Survival Fishing Methods

Picture the scenario: You are camping with your friends and have gotten lost. You do not know where you are or which way. There is a small lake nearby with fish to eat, but you do not have any of your fishing equipment. How can you fish without the right fishing gear?

Survival fishing techniques are all about using makeshift gear and techniques to fish. We here at offer some tips on how to procure fish in a survival situation. If you are in a wilderness survival scenario, you can provide food for yourself and others by checking out the local waterway and trying some of these survival fishing techniques.

1. Hand Fishing

Hand fishing is, as the name would imply, fishing using just your hands. It is likely the very first fishing technique to ever exist and is the simplest method of survival fishing. Hand fishing is sometimes called noodling, graveling, hogging, fish tickling, or stumping, depending on your location.  If you want to practice hand fishing, grab some gloves and head on out to the murky shallows of your local lake where all the catfish reside.

2. Spear Fishing

Fans of the movie Castaway likely remember that scene in which Tom Hanks’ character skewers a fish from 20 feet away using a makeshift wooden spear. In actuality, spearfishing is much more difficult than Tom Hanks makes it look but is still a viable method of survival fishing. Simple grab a suitable sized stick, whittle a sharp point using some stones, and get to spearing. Just remember to compensate for the water’s refraction and aim below the fish.

3. Hand Line

A hand line is a fishing method that uses a simple hook and line which you manually reel in. Hand lines are thrown out by hand and then pulled in by hand. If you are in a pinch, there are several materials that can be used as a makeshift hook such as wood, shells, and bone, or even the pop tab from a soda can.

Makeshift fishing line is a bit harder to come by but can be made from clothing, vines, twisted bark, animal sinew; whatever materials are flexible and strong enough to pull on. Alternatively, you can attach your makeshift hook and line to a stick to use as a makeshift fishing pole.

4. Fishing Weir

You could also make a fishing weir like those used by Native Americans and other indigenous tribes all over the world. Simply grab some wooden stakes and drive them into the stream so that you make a rectangle with one open side. Next, grab some more stakes and fashion a V-shaped opening that is facing the down current. The down-current pulls the fish through the small opening where they are then trapped in the rectangular enclosure. Trapped fish can be caught either by hand or by spearing.

5. Fishing Net

You likely won’t have access to a nylon fishing net but there are many materials you can use to make your own. You can use a large shirt or a stirp of clothes tied between two wooden poles. Drive the poles into the ground of the body of water so that fish are pulled by the downstream and get caught in the cloth net. You can then pick them up by hand or with a spear.

6. Natural Fish Poison

Posion is rarely used in the context of commercial or recreational fishing, but in a survival situation, you can take advantage of nature’s toxic flora and fauna to kill and capture fish. For example, walnut husks can be poisonous to fish in large quantities, and so is lime that can be gathered by crushing seashells. There are several potential plants you could use, but these differ depending on your location, so make sure you are up to date on your local flora knowledge.


These survival fishing techniques can be a literal life-saver if you find yourself in a wilderness situation. If you are a big outdoors fan, consider taking some time to practice theses survival fishing methods so you can always be prepared.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *