Survival Fishing 101: How to Fish Like Your Life Depends on it

survival fishing 101

Whether you’re a long time prepper or someone who is thinking about this for the first time, food and water are two of the most important priorities when it comes to surviving in a SHTF scenario. Warning – This article will deal with survival fishing in an SHTF scenario, some of these techniques are not legal during the rule of law.

Learning how to fish can not only increase your chances of surviving but it can help serve as the foundation for the development of an entire protein generating system.

It’s important to understand the options when it comes to fishing and develop a strategy that makes the most sense for you, your terrain, and your familial situation.

Choose Your Strategy

The first thing you’ll want to think about is the difference between passive and active fishing. Passive fishing is a method that allows you to “set it and forget it.” These include trapping, netting, and trot lining (I’ll get into all of these).

Active fishing is the more traditional method that requires you to sit by the water with a rod and reel and actively attempt to catch fish. One might seem like the clear-cut winner over the other but don’t be so quick to assume.

Rod and Reel

Fishing with a rod and reel might require the most time but if you know what you’re doing you’ll have a great chance of catching something in any body of water.

Using this method also requires preparation ahead of time. You’ll want to purchase a survival fishing pole equipped with a reel as well as artificial lures. I recommend going as simple as possible with your lure choice and using things like worms and creature baits.

These are going to work in the widest variety of scenarios and allow you to target a number of different fish.

You’ll also need standard monofilament fishing line in the range of 2-8 pound test. I recommend purchasing a few different weighted lines so you can have the choice based on the size of the body of water you’re fishing in.


Using traps and nets is a great passive fishing technique for a world where the supply chain has collapsed and we can’t simply get to the store and purchase whatever we want. Keep in mind that many of these techniques are illegal in our current society but they won’t be when SHTF.

Gill Nets

A gill net is a nylon net with openings large enough for fish to swim in up to their gills. When they reach that point, they’re unable to get out. This is a great way to passively catch fish as long as you know where to place the net.


A trotline is a method that requires you to place two posts on either side of a river or pond and hang a line that runs across the body of water. From there, you’ll place secondary lines that hang down into the water and bait each one of them. Put weights on the secondary lines so they remain in the water and you have yourself a trotline.

Survival Fishing using a trotline


Spearfishing has been around forever and is a great way of fishing if you didn’t do a lot to prepare ahead of time. You can purchase a trigger-activated spear to make things easier but if you didn’t, you can make one out of a tree branch.


What happens if you haven’t prepared at all and you have absolutely no resources? Well, you need to use basic survival instinct at this point and not be afraid to get dirty. Noodling is sight based fishing using your hands.

You’ll need to have top notch hand-eye-coordination for this to work and I wouldn’t recommend using this method unless you’re absolutely desperate.

Choosing Your Bug Out Location

Now that you understand some of the methods involved in survival fishing, you need to have a plan in place for when things start to fall apart. Are you currently in a situation where you could walk to a body of water and fish to survive?

If not, you need a bug out plan. Bugging out refers to your process of leaving where you’re at now and getting somewhere safe and secure in the event of an economic collapse. Where would you go and would you be able to sustain life there?

First, you need a body of water. It needs to be small enough for you to set nets and traps, but large and deep enough to actually inhabit a healthy fish population.

Second, it needs to be close enough for you to easily get to. You want it to be far enough away and secluded from civilization so it’s not difficult to defend. But, it needs to be close enough for you to get to quickly.

kayak fishing for survival

How Much Fish Your Need to Survive

Let’s assume you’ve planned accordingly and you’re not entirely relying on fish. How much fish would you need to catch to create a sustainable flow of protein to feed multiple people?

Assuming every fish you catch has two filets and you fish for two hours a day. If you caught eight fish in a day you would take in approximately 1,500 calories based on estimates of most freshwater fish including bass and panfish. Most fish are pretty low in calories.

This is why it’s so important to utilize passive survival fishing techniques. If you have to fish for four hours a day just to accumulate 3,000 calories, you can see how this wouldn’t be sustainable because you’d spend a large portion of each day simply working to eat.

Putting it Together

Fishing is a great way to accumulate healthy protein in a world where you can’t easily get up and purchase something. If you pair fishing with canning, growing, and hunting; you can build a very successful stockpile of food that can span years with proper storage.

Don’t wait, start planning now! Good luck out there!

Stay Prepared.

Author: Wesley Littlefield @ Your Bass Guy

survival fishing net

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