Survival Fishing Tips for Putting Food on the Table Fast

In this article I’ll give you some fishing tips that are optimal for survival situations. Keep in mind that this isn’t covering recreational fishing or fishing for giant fish; it’s completely focused on catching fish to eat and survive in a difficult circumstance and social environment.

That said, until and if some drastic happens, this will put a lot more eating fish in your freezer and on the table.



I want to start with three types of lakes and their general characteristics. The reason for that is if you face a difficult time finding food, there are certain types of lakes that have a lot more fish per acre than other types.

As far as lakes go, there are three basic kinds: oligotrophic, mesotrophic and eutrophic. The least fertile are oligotrophic, which are identified by very clear water and containing primarily fish like trout and salmon, although they can has sizable numbers of walleyes as well. Under natural conditions, these are usually characterized as younger lakes.

Mesotrophic lakes have more nutrients, and the predominant species are walleye and smallmouth bass. They will include northern pike and some largemouth bass, but they won’t dominate in numbers. These lakes, which are the equivalent of middle age, can have some decent clarity. There will be some evidence of largemouth bass present in small sections of the lake, but most of it will be fairly clear of a lot of weeds.

Exceptions to the above would be large lakes, such as I’ve fished in northern Minnesota, where the lakes are so large they can have some sections that are mesotrophic, and others that resemble eutrophic lakes; although those areas, which usually have a lot of cabbage weeds, contain a lot of northern pike. Largemouth bass still tend to be present in comparatively small numbers.

As or eutrophic lakes, they include a lot of nutrients, and are coffee-stained in color, and have a lot of weeds along most of the shoreline. How many weeds depend upon how quickly the bottom drops off into deep water. The same lake can have weeds growing far out from the shore because of a gradual, shallow contour, while others can have few weeds at all because of dropping quickly into deep water.

Some of these shallow water areas include lily pads, which can be extremely difficult to fish because of how thick and tough they are. In an emergency situation, I would try another area of the lake or pond so you don’t lose fishing tackle if you don’t have a lot available. They definitely won’t fit into the type of fishing I’m going to tell you about in a moment.

My recommendation for those that find themselves needing food quick, is to choose an eutrophic lake as your main option. It should be chosen before any sign of trouble begins, and it would be best to even fish it a few times if you’re able to, in order to find the best spots to quickly catch some fish. No other type of lake as the poundage of fish per acre eutrophic lakes have.

So what is the best method to catch fish in order to survive? It would be to go with smaller fish. What that means if you use lighter rods and tackle if you have them, and use smaller fishing lures. Myself and others have tested this out numerous times, and have found that we’re always able to catch far more fish with smaller baits than any other method.



Again, I know when fishing for fun and if you know a little about what you’re doing, that you can do very well with larger baits. But again, this article is for the purpose of catching fish quickly and for emergency food; not for pleasure or to get some nice-sized fish.

When in this type of situation, you also shouldn’t care what type of fish you catch. You’re catching to get some quick food to eat, and if you have some type of storage capacity, to build it up quick in order to have enough food for the longer term.

In an eutrophic lake, you’ll have largemouth bass, bluegills, sunfish, crappies, and northern pike for sure. Many eutrophic lakes have walleyes stocked in them, although in most they’re not able to reproduce.

As for the best way to quickly catch fish, there’s two to seriously consider. One, just have a bobber or float, line and hook, and use a worm as live bait. If you have large nightcrawlers, I would break them into smaller pieces and use one small piece at a time to fish with.

This is especially important if you’re trying to catch bluegills or sunfish, which will peck on a big worm and eat most of it up before finally getting hooked. That’s a lot to waste.

If you struggle to find worms, just look for a grassy area is moist, and you can either use a small shovel to dig and get them, or wait until night for when they come out and lay on the ground for easy catching. In the latter case you’ll have to have some type of light; although you don’t want to shine it directly on them, as they’ll quickly pull back into their hole and get away.

The reason for the float or bobber is to keep the bait off the bottom, and if there are weedy areas you’re fishing, allow you to keep in above the weeds if they’re not to the surface. It also allows for better control of where you cast to. The best location in my experience is in areas that are clear of weeds but close enough to draw the fish out.

Most the fish you catch using this method, will be bluegills or sunfish, with the possibility of an occasional bass.



The other method, and one that could quickly bring a variety of fish, is to use a small spinner bait. Unless the weeds are so thick it’s impossible to retrieve the lure each time without getting snagged, you should be able to real it in quickly with the rod tip held high in order to keep the lure near the surface and out of the weeds.

You can catch any of the fish I mentioned earlier using this method, which is a good alternative if you’re having trouble finding bluegills and sunfish.

One nice thing about a eutrophic lake is you don’t need as light a monofilament or line to hide it from the fish. The darker stained water allows you to use a stronger line that can, in most cases, allow you to land any size fish you catch with the smaller lure.

Those not big into fishing should at least learn to cast and retrieve using a rod and reel, and have a least a decent assortmant of fishing lures available if something happens where you need some quick food.

With the fishing strategy in mind, and a lake with a lot of weeds and assumed lack of a lot of fishing experience, I would recommend a medium action rod rather than an ultra light rod. The reason for that is if you are fishing for survival, you don’t want to deal with smaller diameter monofilament breaking if you have to fight a fish in the weeds.

Medium action rods can still handle a fairly small lure; one which would be easily used in the scenario outlined above. For the most part I used 8 pound test for many years, and it handled almost any fish this type of lake could offer (except the one monster that got away, but that’s a different story).

For worm fishing, I used a 4/0 or 6/0 hook, and found they both worked well. For those unfamiliar with those designations, a 4/0 hook is the larger of the two. I prefer the Mustad Octupus style because of the types of knots I tie.

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