Guest post written by Almo Gregor
If you’ve been around the prepping and survival community for any length of time, you’ve heard of a bug-out bag. While each person’s idea of one has slight variations, the core components are the same. But as far as I’m concerned, they all have one flaw in common: food rations.
I’m not sure where the idea of carrying only three day’s worth of food came from, but pretty much everyone says the same thing. Well, I don’t know about you, but I intend to survive for more than three days. If I’m stuck having to walk, it’s probably going to take more than three days to get to any place I can call a survival retreat.
That means increasing the amount of food I’m carrying. But even that won’t be enough. I’m going to have to eat once I get there too. So I either need food cached at my retreat or some means of getting my own food; preferably both.
That’s where fishing comes in. The idea of hunting for food may seem like a great idea, but as any hunter can tell you, you can spend a lot of days hunting, without bagging a thing. So it’s not a very secure way of feeding yourself, no matter what anyone says. On the other hand, if you can get to any body of water, chances are pretty good you can get some fish; all you need is the right equipment in your bug-out bag.
Building Your Survival Fishing Kit
This is why many people list a “survival fishing kit” in their bug-out bag. But I’ll have to say: what they’re listing in that kit isn’t enough. Most don’t include much, because they’re trying to keep the weight of their bag down. I understand that, but fishing gear isn’t heavy. Cutting down a dozen fishhooks to two really isn’t enough of weight savings to be noticeable.
So, what should you consider having in your bag’s survival fishing kit?
- Fishing hooks – At least a couple dozen. You might want to bring along more than one size.
- Fishing line – One spool; 20-pound test. Yes, you can use the inner cord from paracord, but that’s pretty expensive fishing line.
- YoYo Automatic Fishing Reels – These allow you the “set and forget” option for fishing.
- Bobbers – Several, they tend to get lost; and the Styrofoam ones don’t weigh a thing.
- Fishing flies (optional) – If your bug out location is going to take you to a mountain stream, fishing with flies might catch you more fish.
- Fishing weights (optional) – Don’t get carried away, as you can always use rocks.
- Braided expandable plastic sleeving – Commonly used to cover wire harnesses in cars, this can be used to improvise your own weights.
- Fishnet or another mesh material (a 2 to 3-foot square piece) – This can be used with a forked tree branch (no more than ½” thick) to make a fishing net. It can also be strung between sticks in the water, to make a trap.
- Small bright pieces of cloth and aluminum foil – To use as lures on your hooks.
You might also want to consider an ultralight telescopic fishing rod and reel. I have one that’s only 5.5 ounces, and breaks down to 12 inches long, including its case. While I prefer to do my fishing with the YoYo automatic reels mentioned in the list, this gives me the option of fishing areas farther away from the shore, which I can’t reach with the automatic reels.
In addition to these specific fishing items, you want to make sure that you have extra plastic bags along. These would be useful for a lot of things, like storing food. But they’re also useful for storing bait. Make sure that you have at least one knife that has a thin enough blade for filleting fish as well; most hunting knives aren’t all that good for this, as the blade is too thick and too wide.
Using the Braided Sleeving for Weights
Assuming you limit yourself to an ultralight rod, the heaviest pieces of fishing gear that most of us have are weights and lures. You may have noticed that I said they’re optional in the list above. That’s because the colored pieces of cloth and aluminum foil can be used for lures, tying them to your hooks, and the braided sleeving for weights.
To make the weights, simply fill the section of the sleeving with pebbles. Cut it slightly longer than the part that’s filled, then heat seal the ends. You can either do this with a flame, pushing the end together once it’s heated or by heating the backside of your knife blade and pressing the tubing up against a rock.
Weight of this sort merely needs to be tied to your fishing line, just like anything else. The line can even be run through the sleeving and then tied to it for extra security.
Using the YoYo Automatic Reels
YoYo Automatic reels were specifically created for survival situations. With them, you can bait your hooks and leave them sitting in the water, waiting for fish to come along. When they take a bite, the slight jiggling of the line is enough to trip the reel, causing it to set the hook and hold the fish. However, it isn’t strong enough to pull the fish out of the water.
The YoYo reels are lightweight and come in packages of several reels. That’s so that you can set several at once, spreading them out along the bank, and increasing your chances of catching fish. Don’t cluster them together, as that will negate the benefit of having several of them.
To use these, you need to tie them to something sturdy. I recommend tree or bush branches that are overhanging the water. The line on them is rather heavy and visible, so I like to use a leader out of regular fishing line, which is basically invisible to the fish. You’ll need a weight to hold the bait in the water, but shouldn’t need a bobber.
These are a “set and forget” method of fishing, much like using a trap. So, once you’ve set them, you can do other survival tasks. Going back to check them later. If you haven’t caught anything, you might want to consider moving them and putting fresh bait on the hooks.
Almo Gregor is a firearm enthusiast and avid hunter. Outdoors, hunting and shooting were big part of his childhood and he continues with these traditions in his personal and professional life, passing the knowledge to others.