Five Ingenious Tips When You’re Living Off-Grid and Need to Fish without a Fishing Pole


Many people don’t like eating fish; but when you’re faced with a disaster or are living off-grid, you might not have much choice. Fish is a low-fat, high-protein food that’s packed with the good fats your body requires. You can easily create a satisfactory, compressed fishing kit that can be placed into your survival kit. But that fishing kit won’t do you any good if you don’t have it with you when you need it. Yet, with some practice and the correct information, these off-grid living survival tips will help you catch fish without the use of a fishing pole.


Trap Fishing – This type of fishing is a more conventional technique that’s also called weir fishing. Using three stakes, stick them in the water flowing downstream; align them so that they form a “V” with the open end of the “V” pointing upstream. Next, you should close off the two sides utilizing rocks, cloth, other stakes or other material that you can spare; but the side that faces upstream should remain open. Now you just wait for the fish to swim into the trap and, when they do, cover the open end to keep them in. Pull the fish from the trap with your hands or you could use a spear.


Improvised Lines, Hooks and Lures – There are many things that can be used to make your own fishing line; anything you happen to have handy like vines, strands off your clothes, sinew, shoelaces, wire and long grass, seaweed stems or flax will work well. If you use threads, grass or flax you may need to twist several of them together to create a strong line; if you’d like, you can search for a strong branch for a pole and tie the makeshift line to it or you can just create a long fishing line and use it alone. Once that’s done, think about the items you have available for hooks; some terrific things to transform into fish hooks consist of needles, safety pins, bones, nails, wood, soda can tabs and large or small paper clips. Bend, carve or cut the object into the shape of a hook and bind the fishing line to one end. Now you’ll need bait—frogs, leaves, jewelry, dead bugs or even a brightly colored bit of cloth will make excellent fish bait. Attach your new-found bait to the curved end of your hook. Fish are likely to take cover in dark parts of the water near rocks, under extended banks, in water plants or below looming trees so try “casting” your line there first. When a fish bites, don’t pull it up by the line as the line might break. Rather, scoop up the fish with your hand, a pan or a pail.


Hand Fishing – Shallow, warm water beneath rocks and by logs or banks are the ideal places to go hand fishing. Utilizing this technique, an easy type of fish to grab would be catfish—but it won’t be as simple as you might think! You’ll need to keep both hands in the water for a long time; this will enable your hand temperature to be similar to the water’s temperature. If you’re lucky enough to have a fish swim in the range of your hands, grasp the fish by the gills and/or its mouth. Since fish are slippery creatures, you might consider holding on to a hook underwater that you created; this will raise your chance of securing the fish. As you may have already guessed, hand fishing will require plenty of patience.


Spear Fishing – While any straight sapling will do for a spear, the ideal wood is a green willow. Look for a sapling that’s roughly 8 feet long and 2 inches in diameter—about the width of a broomstick. There are three ways you can make the spear: use a knife to sharpen the sapling’s end to a point; cut toothed edges that are about 1 inch apart from each other; or just affix a knife to the end of the sapling. If you’re going to attempt spear fishing, realize that it’s not without its limits. First, you’ll need a great deal of swiftness and patience. You’ll need to have a lot of skill to spear fish; it should be done during the night with the use of a lantern or torch and should only be done on the bigger fish. Don’t get frustrated, just keep at it and you’ll eventually get your fish.


Create Nets – Don’t worry if you don’t have a fish net; you can develop your own with items such as towels, clothes or blankets. First, you’ll need two sturdy sticks or tree branches that will support the weight of not only the material but the fish you ensnare. Use rope to tie the ends of blankets or towels to the branches or, if rope or twine isn’t available, you could tightly tie the ends of the blankets or towels to the sticks. Seek out schools of little fish—there will be plenty in shallow water. Once you’ve found them, herd the fish with your makeshift net toward a dead end or bank. As you come up on the fish, quickly lift the net up under them and out of the water. If your net is secured properly, you will most likely be successful in catching at least a few of the small fish; like hand fishing, this takes practice.

Fishing without a pole has been perfected over many centuries and these are just a small sample of the myriad of methods that you can use to catch fish. It’ll take lots of practice to master one or a few of these fishing techniques; but when you’re living off the grid or faced with a harsh survival situation, you’ll find that the best fishing can be done with just a few odds and ends around you.

If you’d like more fishing tips or just need help with off-grid living, please contact us.

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