Whether you’re out on a planned camping trip or in a survival situation, if you are near a body of water, fishing can prove to be a very useful source of food. Unlike other methods of getting food, after the initial setup, fishing can be done while you take care of other tasks that require your attention. While you may not experience the “thrill” that comes with a traditional “rod and reel” fishing trip when you have a potential prize catch on the line, you can still get food and a sense of accomplishment with these techniques.
Since most fish give birth to a larger number of offspring each time (laying eggs, not live birth) they have not needed to develop minds capable of complex thought, unlike many mammals and other predatory animals. They play the odds based on a higher number of attempts with fewer evolutionary advantages rather than a few attempts that have elevated functionality. In other words, fish as a whole, generally speaking, sacrifice intelligence for a higher number of offspring (not by choice, as far as I can tell). As someone that is camping or in a survival situation, this is an advantage to exploit that can be the difference between life and death due to starvation or having to eat whatever you packed for your trip versus a fresh caught meal you can turn into a campfire story later.
While we have gotten pretty advanced in our methods of fishing (compared to early settlers), the tried and true methods originally put to use by our ancestors still work and can often be seen at the core of our modern techniques. With that in mind, here are some ways to catch fish with supplies you may find around your campsite or have with you already.
DIY Fishing Hooks
Hooks and lures are still used for today’s fishing trips, typically for individuals or small groups. Though we have gotten technical with our equipment (adding specific weights and hook sizes and types or different looking lures and bait to catch specific types of fish), the main idea remains to be, a tool capable of impairing a fish’s ability to escape once it enters the body by lodging itself directly in the tissue of the fish or using its gills to achieve the same goal.
Seeing that people have explored most of the earths dry surface and in some way changed it, there is a good chance of encountering leftover materials that can be used to your advantage.
Soda Can Hooks:
As popular as soda is worldwide and with our current trash disposal methods, it is highly likely you will be able to find a can laying around somewhere in your vicinity. These can be used in multiple ways to make hooks for catching dinner.
The pull tab can be cut on the larger opening (the part usually lifted by your finger) on one side to create a hook like opening while using the other pre-cut hole for tying line through.
If the tab is missing, the body can be used to create a hook as well. With some careful folds and cuts, a hook shape can be fashioned for use. You can remove the top and bottom from the can (being careful to not cut yourself of course) leaving an aluminum rectangle to work with. From there you can fold the material in half and cut out a “J” shape with more of an upward curve (like a “U” but not equal height). Since aluminum cans are thin enough to rip, I suggest folding the can so your hook is reinforced. Once you form the “J” shape, you can fold the bottom edges over to hold the halves together. Then you can either puncture a hole in the top to thread your line through or roll it over the line a few times for another threading option.
Bones and Sticks:
If you have access to the remains of an animal, you can use the bones to create a hook as well. With the wish bone from a bird, you can make a quick hook by breaking off piece of one side and attaching some line to the longer side. The same can be done from the claw of one of the larger ‘birds of prey’. If you have access to a knife, you can whittle bones and/or sticks into a hook shape as well.
Another style of hook that still works well is a “gorge” hook. These are made in three different styles, Single-Point, Double-Point, and Composite. The Single-Point gorge is simply like a thorn on a line. You get your sharp object (big thorn, bone/stick with 1 side sharp, etc.) and tie your line to the blunt end with the line ending up going in the same direction as the pointed end of the object to create something similar to a traditional hook with no solid “spine.” This is not the optimal version of a gorge, but can get the job done. The Double-Point gorge is typically made from bones or sticks that are sharp on both edges. You tie your line in the center of your gorge and place it inside of your bait with the line and gorge as parallel as possible. When the fish bites, the Double-Point gorge is meant to go perpendicular to the line and hook the fish’s insides or protrude from the gills enough to lock the fish in place. Finally, the Composite gorge is similar to a traditional fishing hook. Rather than one piece like modern hooks, this is created by combining two different pieces (one having a sharp edge and the other having 2 blunt ends) into a “V” like shape.
Anything that can be made into a sturdy, water resistant, “V or J” shape with a sharp end can be used as a hook to catch your next meal. While there are plenty more materials that can be used, these are commonly found and ready for use.
In future posts, we will get into DIY fishing line, rods, traps and other methods that you can use to catch fish. Hopefully, this will begin to prepare you for any situation in which you would need to rely on fishing for a source of nutrition.