The essential survival kit for every fisherman

Imagine being stranded in the wilderness, without any form of communication or food. Food and water are essential to maintaining human life, and survival is the act of remaining alive in the hardest conditions, especially when facing possible life-threatening dangers. Those of us who are fishermen know that a survival kit is essential to allay any fears of being unable to ensure we get to wake up tomorrow. Your knowledge and how to use it could be the difference between living and dying. Most survival conditions end in self-rescue, so one’s rescue depends mostly on oneself.

Of all the situations available to ensure our survival, fishing is the easiest and best way of gathering food.

Survival kit

A must for everyone
A must for everyone

When setting off on a wilderness adventure, a survival kit should be one of the very first things put into your bag. Tim MacWelch mentioned that if you found yourself deserted in a wilderness environment, that as long as you had some fishing gear in your survival kit or if knew how to make some, providing enough food for yourself would be possible if there were fish in the nearby streams.

Survival Fishing Kit

The survival fishing kit need not cost much nor weigh a great deal, just as long as it contains hooks, some line, and sinkers or little stones with a few other essentials. A fishing pole/rod is very easy to make from a sapling branch. But if you have an emergency fishing kit, your task will be so much easier. A supply of good, strongly manufactured fishing line along with good hooks is a better bet than self-made items as they are likely to be less successful.


For the big fish
For the big fish

Although hooks, for example, can be made using thorns, the best option is to use manufactured hooks as they are dependable and affordable. An assortment of small hooks stuck into a cork or stored on a safety pin will enable you to catch all sizes of fish while big hooks only suit big fish.

Fishing line

Commercial fishing line wound on a suitable stick, or dowel, should be 25 to 50 foot long and from 8 to 10 pounds in breaking strain to ensure that larger fish will not break the line. If it rubs onto rough rocks and underwater hazards, it could easily be broken. Fluorocarbon line is better, as it is almost invisible in water and will not frighten smaller fish. An alternative is a braided line as it has three to five times the breaking strength of monofilament or fluorocarbon line.


Knots & nets
Knots & nets

A working knowledge of knots is essential to ensure that one’s knots won’t come apart, letting a good catch swim away as one approaches the shore or jetty because the hook has parted company from the fishing line!

Fishing net

If you have plenty of line available, a gill net could be the answer to netting many fish. Nylon gardening cord would be suitable for this application. It would be wise to practice knotting a fishing net before setting off on your trip.

Hooked line

And that’s how it is done
And that’s how it is done

If knotting a net sounds like a daunting task, then perhaps a long line will suit your needs better.  A trot (main) line with a dozen baited hooks on lines a foot long are tied to a strong piece of 15-foot line at one-foot intervals. A stake at each end is used to secure the line. This does not need constant supervision and could yield a few fish in a couple of hours.

Baited hooks

Baited hooks can be kept on the bottom of the water by using rocks. A 3-foot piece of nylon gardener’s cord needs to be wound around a suitable rock, making a strong anchor around it. This can be attached to a baited hook. Floating bobbers or pieces of Styrofoam will alert you to having a fish at the end of your line. Small paper clips and safety pins can be used to attach weights and floats. Bigger paper clips could easily be made into artificial lures.


Can even be made from beer bottle tops
Can even be made from beer bottle tops

These lures can be used to convince fish that what they are looking at is a frog or crawdad. A big straight hook with a rubber band bound onto a small stone near the eye of the hook and pieces of frayed nylon cord attached could be thought of by the fish to be a moving creature. When the lure has been cast out into the water and has landed on the bottom of the water, light tugs making the lure rise from 9 to 12 inches and then allowing it to drop again, and this will encourage fish to investigate. This repeated process, even though it is slow, could result in a catch. If the line touches the surface of the water and looks as though it is moving quickly, there’s a chance that a fish has been hooked. A hard tug will set the hook.

All good to go
All good to go

Another surface lure can be made from an old metal bottle top. Fold it in half with a pair of pliers and make a hole at each end with a nail hit by a rock. One hole will need a fishing line while the other will have a treble hook attached. This type of lure works best in running water since the constant movement creates an impression for predatory fish of a possible meal.

Casting net

A hand-held casting net can be fashioned from a Y-shaped stick using nylon gardening cord that is tied around it. A couple of rocks will give momentum when throwing.


A small tin or margarine tub with a lid would be suitable for storing bits and pieces or live bait, e.g., worms, crickets, and various kinds of insect or perhaps small fish used as bait to land bigger ones. Even fruit, bread, or corn kernels can be successfully used as bait.

A soft media case, fanny pack, or lidded tin would be a great storage place for your compact survival fishing kit.


Best view in the world
Best view in the world

Patience is the answer to catching fish. A short piece of the line going through the gills and mouth will enable the fish to stay in the water as long as the other end is tied to a tree or rock on the shore.

Other equipment

Some further additions to the kit could be a Leatherman tool with pliers and a knife for hook removal, scaling and gutting fish and making lures.

With a survival fishing kit at hand as you venture out on to rivers, lakes or even the sea, you are assured of a safe return to civilization. Good advice is to put the acquisition of a survival kit at the top of your list of important items to accompany your fishing trips in future.

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fmssolution is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival