Survival Fishing

Survival Fishing PT 1

Gill Nets:�
The Easy, Efficient Way to Catch Fish

Generally any type of fish net is an offense to the average recreational sport fisherman. For these individuals fishing is only a hobby or a sport and his fishing success or failure each day does not impact the future survival of his family. On the other hand, if his family’s survival depended not only on his ability to catch fish but also on his ability to do a wide variety of other chores every day, then the average sport fisherman would probably change his opinion about fish nets.�
Gill Net Basics

There are a lot of different types and designs of fish nets. This article will only discuss one type of fish net that is called a “Gill Net.” Gill Nets have been the subject of several different research studies in a variety of states including Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Canada. These studies date back to the 1970s. These studies include tests using both monofilament nets and nylon nets, in a variety of different mesh sizes, in side-by-side comparisons that were conducted during all twelve months of the year. The average results from these different studies have been consolidated and included in the test result summaries that appear below.�

Applications: Gill nets may be used in either fresh water or salt water.�

Mesh Size: Nets are classified based on the size of the mesh. The mesh opening is formed into a square and the length of any one side of the square is referred to as the size of the mesh.�

The size of the mesh will determine the size of the fish caught in the net. For example, an average size mesh will allow smaller fish to swim through the net. Larger fish will not be able to enter the mesh. A fish of the proper average size will be able to push its head through the net but it fins will prevent it from swimming through the net. When it tries to back out of the net the fish will get caught by its gills and the fish will be trapped.�

Tests conducted on different mesh sizes yielded the following results:Mesh sizes of 1 inch or less capture too many small fish that are not big enough to eat. This is wasteful because these small fish will not have the opportunity to grow into a size that would provide a “good meal.”Mesh sizes of 2 inches or more allow too many average size good quality edible fish to escape. However, if you are only interested in the larger, longer, heavier fish then this larger mesh size is more effective for capturing these bigger fish. For the average fish, the most efficient mesh size is between 1 1/2 inches to 1 5/8 inches (3.8 cm to 4.1 cm). This size mesh will catch the maximum number of fish of average edible size, plus a reasonable number of larger fish. It will also catch more total pounds of edible fish each day.

Gill Net Dimensions: The length and width of your Gill Net should be based on where you intend to use your net. If you will be using your net in a gentle flowing river or stream, and the stream is only 15 feet across and only three feet deep, then a 12-foot by 4-foot Gill Net would work well. But if you are using your net in a huge lake (or other body of water) that is 15 or more feet deep, then a 50-foot by 10-foot Gill Net would be a better choice.�

Harvesting: Several fish can be caught during one day with a Gill Net. Therefore, you should check your Gill Net at least once per day and remove the fish and then reset the net. If you catch more fish than your family can eat in one day, then you should not reset your net until your family has consumed all the fish you have already caught. However, if you have the means to preserve your catch of fresh fish for future consumption, then you may reset your net immediately.�

Cleaning: Nets cleaned of debris once each day are twice as efficient as nets that are only cleaned once every two days.�

Location: Fish are somewhat territorial. Therefore when your daily catch starts to decline then it is time to move your net to a new location.�

Storage: When you are not using your Gill Net you should store it inside a plastic bucket, or a plastic container, or a Ziplock Freezer bag. Punch several small holes in the storage device so moisture can gradually drain out and evaporate, and the net can gradually dry out.�

Gill Net Material

Gill Nets may be made from two basic types of fishing line: monofilament or nylon.

Some commercial fishermen will only use nets made from one or the other of these materials. Their choice is based on their past experience in their specific fishing region and the type of fish in that region. If you know any of these experienced commercial fishermen then you should ask them for their advice on this topic. Most of these fishermen will probably be happy to share their knowledge with you. However, I suggest that you speak to at least two or three different fishermen to get a better idea of what works best for the average fishermen in your area. If you do not know any commercial fishermen then the following advantages and disadvantages of the different types of fishing nets may help you to make the best choice for your particular future application:�

Monofilament nets have the following advantages:

They can be set and retrieved faster.

They experience fewer tangle problems.

On the average, they incur less damage than a nylon net.

They do not adhere to twigs, sticks, or weeds and therefore these items may be more easily removed from the net.

A monofilament net is much easier to clean than a nylon net.

Fish may be removed faster and easier from a monofilament net.

They are clear and they can’t be seen by the fish. Therefore they catch more fish during the day and at twilight.

They catch more different types of fish.

They catch more total fish of the same type.

On the average, a monofilament net will catch twice as many pounds of fish as a nylon net.

Monofilament nets have the following disadvantages:

They are more expensive than nylon nets.

They are not as flexible as nylon nets.

The mesh does not stick to the fish as easily as nylon nets. Therefore it is possible for a fish to more easily escape from the net if it is not entangled in some other way in the net.

In the dark of night a monofilament net has the same efficiency as a nylon net.

Nylon nets have the following advantages:

They are usually less expensive than monofilament nets.

They are more flexible and therefore they more easily cling to the fish.

They will gradually become stained the same color as the water in which they are set. This will gradually make them more difficult to see. Therefore, do not try to wash the water stains off a nylon net.

Nylon nets have the following disadvantages:

In addition to fish, nylon nets also more easily cling to everything else, including all types of sticks, twigs, and weeds. Therefore, nylon nets are very difficult to clean.

It is more difficult to remove fish from a nylon net.

Nylon nets tangle up more easily and they are more difficult to untangle.

The State of Louisiana conducted a two-year test on Gill Nets that ended in 1981. They tested both monofilament nets and nylon nets in a variety of different mesh sizes. The different nets were sewn together side-by-side and they were used in the same waters at exactly the same time. Most species of fish could be caught by either net. However, thirteen different species of fish could only be caught in the monofilament webbing. And four species of fish could only be caught in the nylon webbing. Overall the most efficient mesh size for both monofilament nets and nylon nets was 1 5/8 inch (approximately 4 cm).�

Therefore, unless I had a very good reason to use a nylon net, then I would personally prefer to have a Gill Net made from monofilament line instead of nylon line. The reason is because monofilament line is more versatile, and it will capture more different types of fish, and it will capture more total pounds of fish each day.�

Gill Net Construction

Use braided nylon cord or braided polypropylene cord or parachute cord for the top support line of the Gill Net. This “Top Cord” should be between 1/8-inch to 3/16-inch in diameter. The length will depend on how big a Gill Net you wish to construct. A good size Gill Net� has a 13-foot long “Top Cord.” Use medium or heavy weight fishing line for the mesh. The weight of the fishing line should be based on:

The maximum size fish normally caught in your area (the weight of one fish).

The size or total square footage of your Gill Net (the total number of fish that will be captured each day).

10-pound to 15-pound fishing line is adequate for smaller nets (12-feet by 4-feet) and average size fish (one or two-pound fish).

20-pound to 30-pound fishing line will be needed for larger nets (25 feet by 8-feet) and larger size fish (three pound or larger fish).

If you will be using your Gill Net in a variety of different areas to catch a variety of different types of fish then a 25-pound line is a good choice.

For a 12-foot long net, cut a 26-foot long piece of fishing line. This will be used to tie your top row of Gill Net diagonals.

Tie the fishing line into a mesh pattern going from left-to-right to the thin nylon top cord at 1.5-inch intervals (4 cm) with a 60-degree angle going down to a temporary support stick and a 60-degree angle going back up to the thin nylon top cord with an up and down length of approximately 1.5-inch in each direction. (Note: Some sources recommend tying the line from right-to-left instead of left-to-right. Depending on whether you are right-handed or left-handed, you may do it the way that is most comfortable for you.) The long wood stick or piece of wire will keep the fishing line from becoming tangled. Tie the fishing line to the thin nylon top cord. Continue looping the fishing line around the wood stick and tying the fishing line to the thin nylon top cord until you reach the right end of your Gill Net. Then tie the fishing line to a straight piece of nylon cord that will run from the top to the bottom of the Gill Net.

Note: Instead of two thin wood sticks you could use two plastic water pipes. The Top Cord should be lying flat against the pipe. The equation for the circumference of a circle is C = (3.1416) X (diameter). A one-inch outside diameter pipe will have a circumference of approximately 3.14-inches which will yield a finished square mesh size of approximately 1.57 inches or a little less than 1 5/8 inches. A 1.25-inch outside diameter pipe will yield a square mesh of approximately 2-inches. A 1.5-inch outside diameter pipe will yield a square mesh of approximately 2 3/8 inches. One side of the square mesh will be approximately equal to one-half the circumference around the outside of the pipe.

Cut another 26-foot long piece of fishing line. This will form your second row of Gill Net diagonals. You will need a second wood stick or piece of wire to hold the bottom of this piece of fishing line stable just like you did on the top row of fishing line diagonals. Tie the fishing line to the bottom of each loop of the top fishing line with a knot, then loop around the bottom stick, and repeat until you reach the end of your Gill Net. At this time you can remove the upper stick and use it for your next row of diagonals.

The interior mesh diagonals will be two sizes. The shorter diagonal (side to side) will be approximately 1.5-inches (4 cm) wide, and the longer diagonal (top to bottom) will be approximately 2.5-inches (6.3 cm) long. However, this net would be called a 1.5-inch mesh (4 cm) because the mesh could be stretched into a 1.5-inch square. To create this finished pattern, tie a knot every 1.5-inches. The size of the opening should be based on the average size of the head of the fish in your area. The head of the fish should be able to enter the net up to a point past its gills. However, the body of the fish should not be able to pass completely through the opening in the net. If the fish in your area are larger than normal, then you should increase the size of the diagonals by tying the individual knots further apart than 1.5-inches, such as 1.75-inches, or 2-inches, or 2.25 inches, or 2.5-inches (4.4 cm to 6.3 cm).

Cut a second long piece of thin nylon cord about 13-foot long and tie it to bottom of the mesh diagonals so it can be used to anchor the Gill Net to the bottom of the river after it is placed in the water. Remove and discard the two wood sticks that were used to keep the fishing line from becoming tangled during construction. Your finished Gill Net should look something like the illustration below. (Note: The length and width are approximate sizes and your net may be

How to Use a Gill Net

Gill Nets are generally not used like a conventional fish net. A conventional fish net is cast into the water in the hope that it will fall over the fish and capture the fish inside the net. A Gill Net is typically not used this way. A Gill Net also does not use any fish hooks. The correct way to use a Gill Net is to tie a long rope to each of the top corners of the Gill Net. Later you will use these ropes to pull the net of fish from the water.�

There are two basic types of Gill Nets:

Tie-Down (TD) Nets: Used in flowing water (rivers and streams). A Tie-Down Net has a bottom line and weights are attached to the bottom line to hold the net in position in the moving water.

Flag Nets: Used in still waters (ponds and lakes). A Flag Net has a top line but it usually does not have a bottom line. It is supported by the top line in a manner similar to a cloth flag that is hung on a flag pole by one side of the cloth flag. However, a flag net is hung straight down into the water and not out to the side like a cloth flag blowing in the wind. Floats may or may not be attached along the top line of either a Tie-Down Net or a Flag Net depending on your specific application. There are a variety of different ways to use the above two different types of Gill Nets:

Moving Water Tie-Down Net (Gentle Stream or Gentle River): Secure the end of each rope to a tree or other stationary object near the water so the net can be stretched straight across the water. Tie several weights (rocks) to the bottom of the Gill Net. Drop the weighted bottom of the net into a stream or river. If possible, the entire net should be under water. The fish will not see the thin mesh of the net and the fish will swim into it. Small fish will swim through. But the head of a larger fish will enter the net but its body will not pass through the net. The front gills of the fish will become caught in the net as it tries to free itself. (Note: Do not attempt to use a Gill Net in a fast moving stream because any large foreign objects floating down the stream will rip the Gill Net to pieces.)

Still Water Flag Net (Lake or Pond): Secure the end of each rope to a tree branch near the water so the net can be stretched straight across the curved bank of a lake. The tree branch should have some flexibility in it so the Gill Net can move one or two-feet with the swimming action of a fish. Do not attach any weights to the lower edge of the Gill Net. Lower the net into the lake or pond.

Side, Middle, and Top Net Catch: The fish will swim into the net and the net will move forward with the fish for a short distance. When the net begins to slow the fish down and the fish feels the net against its body, the fish will try to turn and get out of the net. But the sides of the net will cling to the fish and the fish will get tangled up inside the net.

Bottom Net Catch: Lower the net until about six to twelve-inches of the net is lying on the bottom of the pond. If a fish swims towards the lower part of the net and turns away from the net, the turning action of the fish will cause the bottom of the net to rise up and surround the fish. As the fish tries to escape it will become entangled in the bottom of the net.

Deep Water Flag Net: Determine the depth of the water by tying a heavy rock to a long nylon rope and then lower the rope until the rock touches the bottom of the lake. When your raise the rope you can determine how deep the water is at that location. Tie a nylon rope that is one-foot wider than the net to each of the top two corners of the net. For example, if you have a 12-foot long by 4-foot wide net, then tie a 5-foot rope to each top end of the 12-foot long net. Tie a weight to the bottom end of each of these 5-foot short ropes. Then tie two more long ropes to the top edge of the 12-foot long net. These two long ropes will need to be long enough so they can be tied to two trees on the bank of the lake. Tie some type of float (piece of wood) to these ropes at the exact depth that you want the net to be under water. Lower the net down into the water and then secure the ends of the long ropes to some trees on the bank of the lake.

(Rope Note: Instead of cutting your nylon rope to the desired lengths it is better to simply tie one really long rope to the top edge of the Gill Net so that approximately 5-feet of the rope extends down the side of the net. Tie a rock to this short end of the rope. Then tie the long end of the rope to a tree on the bank of the lake. Any rope that is left over can be coiled around the tree trunk or it can be coiled onto the ground beside the tree. This will allow you to keep your ropes at their maximum length for use in a variety of different deep water applications.) In deep waters you should experiment and determine if the Gill Net is more effective in one of the following two situations: When its lower edge is about one-foot above the bottom of the lake, or when it has one-foot of its lower edge lying on the bottom of the lake (tie rocks higher on the short ropes).

Shallow Water Flag Net: In shallow water the Gill Net may be used like a conventional fish net. If you have a partner then your partner should hold one side of the net and you should hold the other side. If you don’t have a partner then you could hold one side of the net in each hand, or you could secure one side of the net to a tree that is growing close to the water. Lower the bottom of the Gill Net down into the water so that the bottom of the net touches the bottom of the stream bed. Pull the net through the water and towards the bank of the stream. Remove any fish that are caught inside the net. This technique is extremely effective when you can actually see the fish swimming in the shallow waters of the stream.�

Emergency Survival Tie-Down Net: In a true survival situation a Gill Net may also be used as a Weighted Net to capture birds or small animals. Tie several small rocks to various locations around the outside edge of your net and then toss the weighted net so that it falls over the bird or the animal on the ground, or over the small bush in which the bird has nested. Please consult any good wilderness survival manual to learn more about how to use a Weighted Net in this manner.�

Survival fishing PT 2

Survival Fishing kit

I have a rather large collection of bush craft books and DVDs, in which fishing kits are always mentioned but the makeup of them is usually left random or very basic to cover all areas. I’ve found when fishing if I use any old hook and rig in the hope of catching whatever fish maybe passing, the only thing I catch is a cold.�

By targeting specific species of fish my luck improves and I usually leave with a feed. This kit is set up to target the main species of fish in the areas that I like to travel and camp around and can be used in three states. The main species are Redfin and trout being introduced. Golden or Silver Perch, Murray Cod, and Tandanus Catfish being the native species to my local area.�

Let me make it plain from the start that I’m not an expert fisherman. I tend to read a lot on subjects that interest me and pick up enough hints and suggestions that allow me to modify these to suit myself and particular circumstances. With enough research this system tends to work well for me or at least allow me to ask the right questions.�

In the book “The River behind the hill” by Philip Weigall, suggests that the following 12 fly’s can be used 90% of the time for southern Australian conditions. Bead-headed Brown Nymph, Tom Jones, Rick Keam Hopper, Foam-Headed Emerger, Brown Nymph, Geehi Beetle, Fuzzy Wuzzy, Black Muddler, Barry Lodge Emerger, Red Tag, Orange Spinner and Royal Wulff. �

In my fishing kit I keep these and the following items. �

Small bright orange floats

Nylon Leader Material

Small Split Shot (snow bee removable assorted sizes)

Assorted� Hooks-Partridge size 8 wide mouth, Gamakatsu size 6 shiner wide mouth, Octopus size 10

Double Taper floating fly line cut in half

Timber Eye Screws – Small

2mm nylon cord for set lines

Gill net

3/0 hook for use as a gaff�

I dont like using nylon. It tangles and degrades after time. I was at a local trout fishing farm and the owner had several handlines set up for children using fly line. It was a lot easier for them to real in and not cut their hands or tangle. I use old fly line that has too many abrasions for feeding through snake guides. I usually buy double taper so when end become too rough, swap it around to use the other end to extend its life. When both are about to be replaced, cut it in half for survival kit use giving me about 30 metres of line and then use about 3 foot of nylon for leader material.This gives me a handline, but I also like having a couple of lengths of 2mm cord thats used for crab pots just to bait of a night and cast out and have set lines. These get checked and rebaited morning and night.What method I use depends on the type of stream or current. A strong current will just sweep set lines back into the bank unless placing them on a bend where they can pulled out into the current.This allows me to fish and not have to be present.The same goes for using a gill net which are usually illegal to use for fishing other than in a survival situation.A handline lets you work a stream by casting into different places along a bank. If fish arent in one position they may be in another.�

I don’t carry lures as I’ve never had much success with them in the smaller creeks I like to fish in. I just seem to scare the fish; I’d rather stick to flies as I’m more familiar with them. If setting up fishing kit for the northern end of the country this would swap around to all lures and no flies.�

If you want a quick meal, bait wins out every time, though there are times when it’s scarce hence the flies. I carry wide mouth hooks as where I like to camp there is always an abundance of river fish and these seem to work better than others I’ve tried. As native fish have very large mouths. It’s also very easy to thread bait shrimp onto large mouth hooks.�

If you’re in an area for a while, fresh water crayfish traps, gill nets, shrimp pots and fish traps are a lot more reliable way of providing a meal than a hook and line. However these are difficult to carry with in a bob, due to weight and size restrictions. Set lines are the best bet in this case.�

I don’t worry about a spear head as most of the streams are not clear enough for its use and making one is quite simple if a spear is needed. Crawford Knives make an attachable three pronged head that screw’s straight to a walking staff and is quite a handy item to have.�

The leader material used is the Water king brand. This is a hard nylon designed to be used as a leader therefore thinner in diameter yet also stronger. This is the heaviest weight that I found that would thread through the eye size of the flies selected. �

This kit is set up from doing research to suit the areas that I intend to fish. To cover the entire country would require at least three different set ups needing different fly, lure, hook and leader combinations.�

For South Australia I would remove the Rick Keam Hopper and Black Muddler, for Tasmania I would use the following flies:

Barry lodge Emerger, Black Deer Hair, Black Spinner, Matchams Caenid, Fiery Brown Beatle, Highland Dun, Nobby Hopper, Pot Scrubber Nymph, Rabbit Fur Fly, Red Tag, Sunset Fly, Thong, Wigrams Robin, Wooly Bugger.�

I’ve tried to keep the list of flies to around an even dozen for each region to keep down cost, choice and ease of choosing a pattern for non fly fishers. As anyone Knows that has fished flies or lures, the collection can become ridiculas. My current boxes are filled with too many of the following to bother counting; dries, nymphs, bead headed, emergers, hoppers, wets, mud eye patterns and most of these I’ve yet to use. At the moment all that seems to work in the areas I venture are small dark nymphs, floaters for small streams and weighted for deeper dams. �

I mainly fish in smaller creeks hence the use of flies for a more delicate presentation to reduce the likely hood spooking trout. However when I have access to larger streams I use lures. The selection of lures in terms of size and colour are similar to fly selection in that the larger the target fish the larger the lure. Small lures can also catch large fish but not necessarily vise versa. It also pays to try and match the lure or fly to the hatch or local bait fish. When choosing colours it’s probably easier to separate the times of day into morning, daytime and evening.�

Early morning I prefer to use natural colours such as gold’s, browns and bronzes with a slight splash of brighter colours. During the middle of the day when fish aren’t as likely to feed I tend to use the more traditional predominantly bright colours of green, reds, etc to trigger an aggression response from predatory species. As the sun lowers I start using darker lures to create a greater contrast or better silhouette. Lures with black or purple colour schemes are ones to go for.Then gently drift the flies or bait over likely places the fish maybe lying, around snags, undercurrents near the banks, overhanging trees and the edges of swift flows where insects tend to be swept. �

When practicing survival fishing, using only the contents of my kit. I use the Huckleberry Finn method of using a thin sapling around nine or ten feet in length with the line tied to the end in several places with Clove Hitches in case of breakages or instead of using knots to attach the line to a makeshift rod, small eye screws can be carried and threaded into a sapling to act as eyelets allowing basic fly casting techniques to be used.�

Then gently drift the flies or bait over likely places the fish maybe lying, around snags, undercurrents near the banks, overhanging trees and the edges of swift flows where insects tend to be swept. Amazingly I catch more fish using this method than with any of my fancier gear. This may be due to spending more time stalking and not disturbing the area such as a poacher might do.�

The 3/0 hook is another experiment. Ive never needed a gaff other than when fishing for snapper, but when fishing from a bank with light line and no way to collect a fish from a drop may come in handy at times and doesnt take up much room and takes only a minute to attach to a branch. Floats also act as bite indicators, when ever a float bobs under the surface a fish has taken the bait.�

The floats are there to adjust the height of the line sitting in the current for fish that feed at different levels.The same for choosing split shot over other sinker styles. they can be removed without having to untie a rig or placed at different heights within the rig.The timber eye screws are a project of trying to make a rod from a branch that allows me to cast out flys like a normal rod would. Having mixed results so far depending on the age/dryness and type of timber used.Mainly trying this to give me a little more range in casting.��

Survival Fishing PT 3

Set Lines

Set Lines Intro

For our purposes there are four types of set lines, two that require some sort of boat. The first is a trot line that that is a horizontal mainline running between both banks with vertical trots hanging from the mainline with leaders running from the trots at various depths. This method really requires a boat to set, unless wanting to swim across a creek with 20 or so hooks free floating around your ankles. the advantage of this set up is that both sides and the middle of the stream are covered aswell as the bottom feeders and surface feeding fish. The disadvantages are requiring a boat and possibly having the mainline severed by anything large floating down stream or another boat etc.�

The second set line is simply a line tied to the bank with multiple hooks attached. This can incoperate a float or simply be a weighted line. Once again having a float will allow bottom feeders and surface feeders to be targeted. During the heat of the day, surface feeders will swim lower in a stream to stay cool even if not on the bite may take bait if opportunisitc. A line tied a branch at ground level, in a strong current will be pulled back into the bank. Tying at a low level will help hide the line but may need to be tied at a higher level, say to a tree branch so it hangs mid stream in strong currents. This is called limb lining.�

Jug Fishing Intro

There are two types of jug lines, one is the free-floating jugline and the other is the anchored jugline. The free floating once again requires a boat to set them from shore. the anchored is essentually a set line using a floating system attached. These can be made high tech or simply. Any float from a shop brought to a coke bottle can do for an anchored jugline. The high tech versions contain weights spread within the float, so when a fish takes the bait the weights will slide to one end making the float stand upright as a bite indicator. This is a good set up if exclusively using jugs for fishing with lots of fish present. I tend to just use an anchored jugline with no weights as I set them at dusk and recheck in the morning and rebait as often as possible. Leaving them set and not checking or rebaiting because the float isnt standing may also mean smaller fish have come and taken all the bait.�



The major advantage of free floating juglines is that you can cover a lot of water and the let the bait go to the fish, instead of waiting for the fish to come to the bait. The biggest disadvantage of free floating the juglines is that there is no weight to hold the jugline in place so either wind or fish can carry them a long way if your not careful.Free-floating juglines must be attended to. You cannot leave them for long periods of time, because doing so will only cause you to lose jugs. A big fish can really move a jugline with no weight on it a long way in a short period of time.

Anchored juglines are the method that is typically preferred by fishermen that fish lakes and reservoirs. Anchored juglines are setup with “drops” or “trots” off of the mainline and then a weight is tied to the end of the line. The weight is placed on the bottom of the lake or reservoir. This weight not only keeps the jugline in place while you are waiting to get a bite, but also helps tire fish out if you land a big fish on your jugline and greatly reduces the amount of area you have to search for your juglines.

Anchored juglines can also be left in the water for extended periods of time and do not have to be constantly watched and attended to. Many anglers will set anchored juglines in the water and leave them while they rod and reel fish or even go home and come back several hours later to “run their jugs”.

The number of hooks employed on anchored juglines is dependent on your local laws, and personal preference. Some anglers use as many as five hooks on one anchored jugline. I recommend using no more than two hooks, because anymore than that creates issues with tangling, but also can be very dangerous. A fifty-pound angry catfish on the bottom of a jug can really be dangerous if there is more than 2 hooks on the jugline. Using only 2 hooks makes the whole process much faster, and safer.

The major advantage of anchored juglines is they do not have to be attended to constantly, and they are typically much easier to locate and keep up with. 99% of the time they are exactly where you left them. The disadvantage of anchored juglines vs. free-floating jugs is that you lose the ability to cover a tremendous amount of water and put the bait in front of the fish. With an anchored jug line you have to wait for the fish to come to you.�

by Keith A. Williams

While speaking to some children the other day at the local boat landing, I became saddened at the realization that there were so many young people who apparently are growing up without even the basic understanding of the practical fishing techniques that had once been considered to be such an important part of every day life in my childhood. With this in mind, I’d like to take a moment to talk a little about Set Hooks and Trotlines. �

When I was little, it was not uncommon to see people using what were known as bank poles. This was usually a bamboo pole with a fishing line attached to one end, and the other, sharper end simply stuck into the bank. If set up properly, this could hold a large fish or even a small gator, but if done poorly, you might well find yourself sitting in the mud while watching your pole swim away. With that in mind, a better configuration was to have a small forked stick to support the pole a little way up the shaft. This kept the lower end in position and allowed the upper end to arch and bend like a regular fishing pole without much fear of having the whole setup being pulled into the water. Although these are quite effective, their usage first requires finding suitable bamboo poles and then having to carry them to the fishing locations and this generally sees their usage in limited numbers. �

A more popular concept is that of the Set Hook. Whether they know them as set hooks, bush hooks, set lines, limb lines, throw lines, or some other name, variations can be found most everywhere, and have been a long-time standard means of catching larger numbers of fish in a given time frame. It has been said that they do this with less effort, but that is debatable as checking them properly can be a considerable amount of work.

Jug hooks are just short set hooks which have been tied to floating plastic bottles or jugs. These can also be effective, but I prefer not to use them as you have to float along with them and I dislike having to keep track of many non-biodegradable objects that have been dumped into the water. They also have a nasty habit of getting all tangled up on snags as they work their way downstream. �

Set hooks are generally simple in construction. You need a strong cord, lead egg sinker, and a suitable hook. The sinker is necessary in current or your bait will be constantly floating on the surface and be much less effective. I like to attach my sinker about twelve inches up from the hook to keep it near the bottom. �

There are two schools of thought for length. One method employs putting live bait, just at or below the water’s surface so that it can move and splash around a bit and the other is to set the bait near the bottom. Up here where I now reside, they have this choice easier for me, as it is illegal to use live bait for these methods. With a little bit of imagination, though- this no longer posed a problem. My original lines were only eight feet long and in order to get them near the bottom of even the small creek near my house, I attached two foot leaders to them to act as extensions. Recently constructed models have been in eleven foot lengths to eliminate this problem. To hang them shorter, you can either tie them higher, or just leave more cord on your tag end when tying them off.

When setting a set hook, it is preferable to use a flexible limb hanging over the water’s edge. These can range in size from the diameter of your thumb, to about the size of a broom handle or so, and I use a simple slip knot to secure them to the limbs. I know this seems a little flimsy, but it is the springy action that keeps the fish from breaking your line. �

In previous years, it was common practice to make an effort to hide your lines, by making them as inconspicuous as possible and putting them very close to the water. Although this might have helped get a few more out than the legal limit, the main reason for doing this was because the world is full of lazy and dishonest people, and it was not unusual to find that someone had come along behind you and taken the liberty of checking your lines for you. When setting out fifty to one-hundred hooks in the dark, this required that you paid attention to where you left them (and no, the bushes do not all look alike). �

Well, as times have changed, I now find myself living in a house with only one small freezer – so setting out that many lines is just more than I need. I generally set out about 15 hooks at a time, and since the law now requires that every line must have your name and address on it, I find it easier to just go along with the program and flag my lines with neon colored tape, with the appropriate information written on it.

I never really expected the stuff to last very long, but have been pleasantly pleased with its durability. I also went a step further and put a small piece of reflective strip on the tag end of each line. This allows it to be seen for some distance away while using the light produced for a common flashlight or headlamp (preferred), and can be a real benefit when you have someone else running the boat. With these in place they can sweep the water’s edge with a spotlight, and quickly see the best route to navigate the way to several lines at one glance.

Sometimes you just can’t find a suitable limb in a spot that you think may be a prime location for a line. Whether this may be under a tree, stump, log jam, or just a snag sticking out of the water, all is not lost. The technique for this requires the addition of a short piece of bicycle inner tube with an overhand knot in each end. About five inches from end to end will do nicely. To employ this you tie off an existing line to the object, and tie one end near the top of the line, and then create a slack loop a little way down and then tie it off to the bottom of the section of tube. You can do this with an overhand knot, a couple of half hitches, or whatever other knot that you happen to be handy with, as long as it is secure. This works well, as when a fish runs with the bait, he will pull against the stretchy rubber instead of the unforgiving line, in the same fashion as the limber pole or branch. I have heard of people just tying on tubing without the loop or cord, but the cord is a better variation because should the fish ever succeed in breaking the tubing, the loop would still be attached and the fish would likely be too tired from its efforts to break the main line. These are so handy to have around; I advise having a few pre-made in advance. Just take care to check the tubing from time to time for dry rotting.

Careful consideration should be given to the hooks that you will be using. Some hooks offer better advantage for catching certain types of fish and, generally speaking, you can put more bait on a larger hook – and therefore it is possible to catch larger fish. While larger fish are a nice, there are larger numbers of smaller fish than larger fish in a given area, and they are often more tender to eat. In the end, the way you go about it will depend mostly on personal preference. When I was growing up, we fished for relatively large catfish, and therefore used large J-hooks, but I am in the process now of phasing them out in favor of circle hooks. These have an advantage of usually sliding out and hooking the fish at the corner of the mouth, and I have come to prefer them for catching catfish.

Whether or not you’ve actually used one, most of you have probably seen or heard of a Trotline. For anyone who hasn’t, we’ll take a brief look into trot lining. A trotline basically consists of a high tensile main line that is tied to an object and has many droppers (called trots) that hang beneath. Depending on how it is set up, it may employ several weights, floats, or both to manage fishing depth, but the end result is that it the individual lines will radiate out from the main line in the direction of the current.

Trotlines are fished from a boat, using a two man team – both for efficiency and safety, as with all those hooks and lines, it is never a good idea to run a trotline alone. One mans the motor, oar, or paddle from the stern of the boat, and one works the line from the bow. One end is typically tied to a bush or tree, and while the mainline is played out downstream, the hooks are set into the water one at a time. When the end of the line is reached, it is weighted down by some sort of improvised anchor. �

Although more area is covered if it is set out across the water way, this can cause a hazard for a boat motor if not set deep enough, and may be illegal in some areas. �

As with set hooks, construction of a trotline, can vary according to the materials you have on hand, type of vessel that you plan to fish it from, time and money that you wish to invest into it, and any number of other individual preferences. Some lines may have fixed trots, and some may be removable. Some may even allow you to change hook sizes without cutting the line. There really is no absolute method of construction – only what works best for your particular needs.

Commercially available versions can be purchased, but I have come up with definite preferences, and so find it more enjoyable to make my own. I like to use genuine parachute cord for my main line. It has an approximate breaking strength of 550 lbs. and its nylon construction handles repeated submersion very well. I make a loop in one end and attach a large stainless steel snap link to it. This allows someone who doesn’t do well with knots to reliably secure my line without my having to come back and cut it loose upon retrieval. I also flag this end in the same manner as my set hooks. Next I come down the line about 5 ft. and secure a dual ended swivel inside an overhand knot, and I put others all the way down the line at 5 ft. intervals. These will allow me to permanently attach my trots to my mainline and give the additional benefit of lessening the chance that a fish can wind my trot to the point of breakage. For individual trots, I generally prefer small diameter nylon cord similar to the parachute cord. This stuff is only rated at approx. 120 lb. breaking strength but it lasts practically forever.

Unfortunately, it is hard to find locally, and so I generally use the best quality line that I have access to. It is a good idea to keep trots at a shorter length as multiple lines and hooks lying across the bottom mean more opportunity for something to get tangled up, and short lines are less worrisome. I like to keep my trots between 15 and 30 inches, and put 13 of them per mainline. At the end of my line, I have another loop, and a smaller snap link. This allows me to quickly attach or remove a weight to the line, and also gives the option of quickly joining another trotline to the first without any trouble at all, should the situation call for it. �

Since I normally fish a slow moving creek, I normally use a 5 lb. weight as an anchor, but keep a cinder block available for faster water. Something to consider when attaching a weight is the possibility that a large fish may carry the line over to a log jam and hang it up. An option is to attach the link a mid-sized zip tie or other break-away device. By using this, it will function under normal conditions, but can be pulled free if necessary. �

If you want to have the ability of easily changing your hooks, then you’ll need to employ the use of smaller snap links at this time. These come in several sizes, and can support more than you might think, but good advice is to up one size than you think you’ll need. �

In closing, I realize that one can only be expected to gain a certain amount of information from an article; I hope that this will at least get you started on the basics of how these can be used to assist you with your endeavors. �


Trot lines and simple lines tied to tree limbs work well day and night, check them intervals or your catch will be eaten! Use nylon rope for trot lines; draped under the waterline after dark, these go unnoticed during the day for retrieval the next night; they allow you to be ‘fishing’ while you’re performing other activities. String trot lines from tree to tree, especially if trees shed edibles/insects that fish eat.�

If you have several fish hooks, light line and a strong line, bait a whole bunch of hooks on short lines, and tie them (a few feet apart) onto a strong main line (550 cord) strung across the waterway. Tie the main linet between a couple trees, a couple feet above the water, so you can either rely on the water flow to keep the bait near the surface; or just shorten the lines so your hooks can’t sink. If the water is moving, your bait will be dancing to entice the fish. If there’s little/no movement, tie some leaf covered branches to the lines to catch the wind, this makes your bait look lively. Now you can walk away while waiting for a catch; check your lines every few hours.

Fishing is a outdoor activity for many sportsman and families. It is a sport enjoyed by people of all ages, and backgrounds. Modern fishing for most people involves boats, depth finders, and various high tech gear to find fish. Fishing reels have came along way from the early models as have the lures and artificial baits. However in an emergency situation these items are not necessary to catch fish.

A few yards of fishing line, trotline, and some hooks added to your bug out bag can come in very handy , if you are in an area with fish. In addition the fishing line can serve many different functions in an emergency situation, you are only limited by your creativity. Adding line and hooks will not take up much space, but could add another way to make survival easier. It may prove useful to have a couple of different sized hooks for different fish and a light and heavy section of fishing line. This will give you the option of fishing for both small fish and larger fish.

You can fashion a pole from a strong branch and tie the line to the end of it. Then you can roll, and unroll the line as needed , this is pretty much the same as the cane poles people used to fish with. You can also use a stick, plastic bottle, or other makeshift item as a handle if you want to fish with a hand line. Wrap and tie the line around the handle, then you can roll or unroll the amount of line you need to fish with. You will throw the line out by hand to your selected area. The handle will prevent you from holding the line in your hand and risking getting cut if a fish takes your bait hard.

Using a limb line, or a trotline is another way you can use the fishing line and hooks to catch fish. Trotline material is designed to work in the water, and could prove useful for many purposes besides fishing. In a survival situation this might be a better method because you don’t have to sit and wait. You can set your line and go on with other tasks and check it later. A trotline consists of a larger main line, with 2 to 3 foot droppers lines attached. However in an emergency situation you will probably only use a few dropper lines on your trotline. A limb line will consist of one or two hooks that are attached to a limb over the water. You want to anchor the trotline on both ends of the line, and the limb line is just tied on one end securely to a tree.


This method of catching fish and turtles is simple and easy to set up. All you need is a jug some fishing line or wire and a hook. Milk jugs will work if that is all that is available, a more durable jug would be a two liter bottle, but in terms of a survival situation we are just looking to fill our needs. The line, or wire should be attached to the jug, and the hook attached at the end of the line. Something to keep in mind is that a turtle can break line alot easier than fish so wire might be a choice. The next thing is decide how you will retrieve or control your jug, obviously it will move and float around with or without a fish. Anchoring it to the bank or a limb would be a good consideration otherwise it may be hard to retrieve without a boat. In fast moving water or rivers your jug will disappear all together.

Just about anything can be used for bait, bugs, worms and grubs, fish, fish parts, or other meat scraps. You can improvise and use what you have to work with. A trotline can yield small fish such as crappie, cat fish, turtles , and others. It just increases your opportunity, and adds another tool to your skills. It is recommended to practice making and using this items before you are in a moment of need.�


Rogue Turtles Trotlines

“Fishing at the End of the World”, by Jason A.�


Making Juglines


Rynos homemade Noodle Jugs�

Cody Millers Homemade Noodle Jugs�

Survival fishing PT 4

Fish Traps

This is a pretty easy post to make, theres nothing simpler than using a fish trap. Traps should be placed in the water with the entrance of the trap facing downstream. As the fish swim upstream, the funnel design of the trap doors directs the fish to swim into the trap. In some fast running streams, it may be necessary to weigh the trap down with one or two rocks. It is also helpful to attach a line from the trap to a buoy or to anything secure on the shore. Fish traps baited with a can of cat food with holes punched into it works nicely.

There are links below on making different sorts, from an improvised bottle trap for bait fish up to traditional Bushcraft traps. Being an Urban blog though, I’ll mention how to construct homemade ones. I used to make them out of 12mm or 1/2″ square wire mesh. Either square or round. Making them round is easier to make the funnel section then the square. Make sure the mesh is galvanised to prevent rusting. I stopped making these after a while for several reasons. They tend to take a little while to make. From a 5.0m roll x 900mm I used to cut them into 600mm lengths then have enough left from the off cut to make the ends and funnels.For a $35 roll of wire I could buy the same amount of nets from the fish shop already made. The wire ones tend to get borrowed should I say on a more regular basis. So after putting in a days effort making them just to loose them the next didnt seem worth the time.

Storing them can also be a pain, when trying to lay down half a dozen traps in the back of the car with camping gear etc. So I ended up just buying the commercial opera house shaped netted variety. These cost under $15 and fold down. The 50mm versions are better for yabbies and the 75mm holes for fish. Make sure they have turtle rings or they tend to catch turtles which are not only illegal but the turtles wreck the pots aswell. I find the opera styled version easier to remove the catch than the square variety.�

Natural Fish Traps�

Improvised Soda Bottle Fish Traps

Homemade Fish Traps