Survival Fishing and Snares

Recently Rourke posed a question for his readers regarding inclusion of fishing tackle in the survival ruck. My thoughts follow.

fishing kit next to Altoids tin
fishing kit next to Altoids tin

Inclusion of fishing gear in your survival rucks is likely situationally dependent. If your primary/expected travels are all in desert regions, likely not – but living in a land of many lakes and abundant fish I include a minimal kit of fishing equipment.

No rods or reels, these are primarily for the sport fisherman, but my ruck has a gill net, heavy test catfish line on the factory spool, a spool of small monofilament line, and an assortment of hooks including treble.

For those of you unfamiliar with a gill net (, Amazon, etc.), they are so efficient at fish gathering as to be illegal for sport fishing in many locales. Survival situations trump logical laws aimed at preventing overfishing.

The heavy catfish line has many other uses including the making of snares, equipment repair, and even treble hook turkey trotlines (again for survival hunting only). The monofilament fishing line could even be used for suture material whenever later removal is possible.

If you are located in, or plan to possibly traverse regions where fish might be expected, by all means include minimalist fishing gear, especially that efficient and effective gill net. Fowl can be taken using the turkey trotline approach. Small mammals and even deer can be trapped with snares and I include a number of commercially manufactured stainless snares in all of my rucks.

These snares are quire strong, can be boiled to remove the man scent, will never rust, and unless they ‘run off,’ will last for generations. There is even a ‘quick kill’ device that can be added to the snare. Whenever I find a cheap tool that will provide food for generations, I buy in bulk. Suggest you do the same.

Of course without proper training followed by actual experience few will ever catch anything but a cold or perhaps the diarrhea. I heartily urge each to take the time and learn fishing and trapping skill sets before experiencing a situation that might just provide the exam first with lesson afterward.

I was fortunate to be raised in a place and at a time with parents who insisted on making one-match fires and if in the summer, a no match fire was made with magnifying glass. When camping, it was expected that at least one meal would be prepared from game caught either by snare or hasty made trap of local materials. These skills mastered as a pre-teen have served me well over the decades and none of us is too old to learn. My daughter the physician and other children learned the same skill sets. I insisted. The wise will have a quality 3+ diopter magnifying glass in their survival rucks as well. This is another multi-use item as it is also useful in finding those irritating too small to easily see splinters, etc.

Like being able to swim, fishing and trapping are life skills that everyone should master. Other than death sounds, snares are otherwise silent and hunt around the clock with no effort other than proper site selection and set up; likewise with trotlines, either in water or on land. In a survival setting, you might consider setting snares around a turkey trotline or bird trap as struggles of the birds and death smells are likely to draw small mammals.

Remember folks; there is a huge difference between survival hunting/fishing and sport. That difference may mean the lives of your family members or even that of yourself. [Rourke: Go back and read those last two sentences again. Very important!]

My thoughts,

Panhandle Rancher


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6 thoughts on “Survival Fishing and Snares”

  1. Thank you PR, I over looked this one, will add gill nets to my supplies. I currently have net hammocks that can double as fish nets and snares and I have Casting nets, they are incredibly fast and effective.

  2. Badger359, good for you. Nets are so very effective but as many locales have outlawed such for sport fishing, many are unaware. As with so many things however, the tool is useless without proper practice.


  3. Rourke, my first African hunt was long and I was in country for a while. Our camp which included trackers, skinners, cooks, laundry maids, laborers, etc. were all fed from the muzzle of my rifle. It was great experience hunting the Big 5 and plains game for sport while feeding a crew of 60 souls. Most of the meat was lean so keeping energy levels up took a vast quantity. We had a few days when game was scarce and people were starting to get hungry. The PH suggested a modification of good sportsmanlike hunting as it was, “for the pot” because the camp was hungry. Everything I had learned about good sportsmanlike behavior told me this was wrong, yet I knew upon returning to camp there would likely be hungry eyes if I didn’t change my views. We ended up taking several hartebeest that day using non-sportsmanlike methods. Upon seeing the happiness when the meat was brought into camp that evening, I developed a new appreciation for my friend’s wisdom. Hunting for the pot is a serious business totally unlike sport fishing and fair pursuit sport hunting.

    My kit always includes protected Gen III+ pinnacle autogated NV. Hunting animals at night with NV provides opportunities that other techniques do not. I often wander the woods in the night with NV just watching the animals and the occasional raccoon hunter. Of course I don’t actively hunt that way but I spend enough nights in the woods to know that I would be a serious apex predator with NV and a suppressed rifle. If hunting that way in a region with others equipped with only rifles and telescopic sights, the NV equipped hunter would excel, likely taking game when otherwise highly experienced hunters fail. This technique would have additional value as game became depleted.


  4. I have carried a few hooks, line and sinkers in my pocket most of my life. I started back in the early 70’s, when I was flying in the Air Force. I still carry the same small metal, water proof match tube containing several matches, a couple of needles, fish hooks, line and sinkers. I keep everything from rattling with a ball of cotton packed down on top. This fits nicely in my pants pocket and is always there. While I have never had to use it in a life saving situation, I have used the fishing equipment a couple of time while camping to catch a few fish. Cut a long limber stick and roll over a couple of logs to find worms or grubs and you are set to go.

  5. Good article, Rancher 🙂

    Gill nets are not legal here for “sport fishing”. Got one anyway. 🙂

    As an aside, a “minnow seine” (small gap net) IS legal. when fishing for “bait fish” to use for bass. etc.

    If you just happen to snag “Moby Dick” , then “Ooops, officer, I was trying to catch minnows and crawfish for bait”, when the Game warden shows up. If you are REAL careful, not a bad emergency hammock, either.

  6. At an early age I remember using the Yo-Yo type fishing reels on our weekend camping trips to the lake. The folks put a lot of meat in the fridge from those little Yo-Yo’s. Years later I’m wondering if one or two in the BOB might be worthwhile. They can also be used as a trip style snare if needed.


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