Survival Fishing | Unconventional Methods To Catch Fish

One of the best sources of protein and other nutrients in a survival scenario is fish. Fishing is safer and expends fewer calories than hunting or trapping.  It also gives you better nutrients than collecting wild edibles.

Survival Fishing | A Means To An End

However, you likely will not have a rod and reel.  If you have a few basic resources, there are ways you can fish that may seem a bit more unconventional.  However, remember that most of the world fishes with these more primitive methods.


Using nets either passively or actively is one of the most common ways that people fish worldwide.  A small net can easily fit in a pack better than a rod and reel.  I like using a gill net, which is designed to be rigged up vertically allowing fish to tangle in the net.  It has floats at the top and weights at the bottom and normally works best in moving water.  Throw nets take some practice, but are a more active way of fishing. You must be able to fling the net off of your shoulder casting it into deeper water.  You then let it sink to the bottom and pull in your haul.  Seine nets are designed to be dragged through the water by two people.  It requires wading, but one person gets on each side and just pulls it through the water until fish get caught in the net.

Survival Fishing | Unconventional Methods To Catch Fish

Survival Fishing | Unconventional Methods To Catch Fish

Nets often require no bait, so they can be ideal for survival.  They also can be used passively.  You can set up a gill net, go work on other projects, and then come back several hours later to collect your fish.  This is a huge advantage in a survival scenario.  Nets roll up to be compact, so they can be perfect to fit in a bug out bag.  They also allow you to catch more fish at once.  The biggest issue is that you often have to get wet in order to set up or use the net.  This is not ideal in colder weather.

Trot Lines and Branch Poles

There are two passive ways to use cordage and hooks to catch fish that can be done without a rod and reel.  A trot line is a long primary line with several shorter lines tied to it.  Typically the main line has loops tied into it.  The shorter lines are two to three feet long with baited hooks at the end.  One end of the main line is tied to the shore, while the other is weighted and cast out as far as possible.  This gives you baited hooks in several locations and at several depths.  It also allows you to catch more than just one fish at once.

Branch poles are another way to use a line to fish.  You can either find low-hanging branches along the shore or can cut off branches that are straight and at least five feet long.  If you cut the branches, drive them into the mud on the shore as hard as you can and completely vertical.  Then tie a line with a baited hook to the end of the pole or the end of the low-hanging branch. Cast it out as far as you can so there is little slack.  When the fish strike you will see the branch move and you can go collect your fish.


This is actually the version of primitive fishing that is the closest to using a rod and reel.  Find an object on which to spool your line with such as a bottle or a chunk of wood.  Tie the end of your line to the base, and then wrap it around the object until you have about six feet of line left.  Attach a baited hook, and make sure it has some weight to it. Hold the spool in your left hand and the line in your right.  Spin the line underhanded until you have some momentum, release the line, and then hold out your left arm to let the rest of the line unravel.  You can then re-spool the line as you draw it in so that it will not get tangled.

Do you have other unconventional ways of catching fish? Let us know in the comments section below.

Up Next: 5 Unconventional Fishing Techniques  

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