Fish Snares – Yo-yos, Gill Nets and Trotlines
Everyone has heard the saying “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you give him an occupation that will feed him for a lifetime.” This saying takes on more significance when you put that man in a SHTF scenario. If the world as we know it endures catastrophe and people are scrambling to feed their families, then the food animals in your region will likely be hunted out fast. Both hunted and foraged food will become scarce fairly quickly. Thankfully, since fish reproduce rapidly, there will likely continue to be high quality protein available in larger lakes, rivers, and our oceans. So, becoming proficient at using fish snares is a skill that could mean the difference between starvation and survival.
There are many different ways to catch fish. Fishing with a rod and reel is fun, but time consuming. Just like snares on land can be more productive than hunting, “fish snares” can do the fishing for you while you are doing other things. In this post we cover three different types of automatic fishing solutions: fishing yo-yos, gill nets and trotlines.
I had never heard of a fishing yo-yo until I was reading the Grid Down Reality Bites book series. Yo-yos are a very low cost way of fishing multiple spots, using a variety of different baits set at different depths. Each automatic fishing reel is made of galvanized steel so it will not rust. They have a spring loaded action that automatically sets the hook and reels in the line when the fish takes the bait. After catching the fish it allows the fish to pull on the line and continues to reel them in. This keeps the fish fresh and alive until you have a chance to retrieve them.
These little mechanical fishing devices can be attached to tree branches, boat docks, the side of a boat, floats, buoys or any way that will suspend the reel a couple of inches above the water. Since they are light and small you can pack a dozen in a bug out bag easily.
Gill Net Fishing
What is a gill net? It’s really nothing more than a net wall, weighted at the bottom, with floats pulling the top of the net taut. Each end is attached to buoys or to the shoreline of small waterways. Fishing with a gill net is incredibly effective when they are set up properly. Unfortunately gill nets do not have a very good reputation, especially in the oceans where endangered turtles, dolphins and sharks are often snagged along with the fish the nets are intended to catch. Often very large nets are left unattended, ending up as ocean trash that kills fish needlessly. Many states ban them completely. But used as a survival gill net in a SHTF situation, you can efficiently harvest fish for food.
Image from Michigan Sea Grant
The weight and bulk of the gill net varies depending on the length of the net and the size of the flotation devices. But you can save space for a bug out bag item by removing the floats and tying wood chunks to the top like the Native Americans did.
What is a trotline? It is really nothing more than a long line with a bunch of hooks on it. Obviously the construction of the line is a little more complicated. There are trotline clips with swivels on them to allow the hooks to move around a little. Then there are trotline brads attached to the main line so that the clips stay spaced properly.
If you know how to run a trotline you can catch different types of fish. If you let it rest on the bottom you will catch bottom-feeding fish. Known as a catfishing trotline, these can catch a lot of large fish if left out over night. The best trotline bait for bottom feeders tends to be smelly. Use cut up fish, liver, or commercial catfish baits.
If you add floats to the line or pull the line tight between two solid structures you can raise the line off the bottom and catch a whole different type of fish.
Once you have seen a trotline, you know how to make a trotline for yourself. But unless you want to do something special you might as well buy one that is already put together. They typically come with a trotline winder and a plastic bag to keep the trotline hooks from getting caught on things. This makes it convenient to add to a bug out bag.
If you are interested in a crab trotline, click over to Crabbing HQ for more information.
Be Careful With Fish Snares
Just like land snares there are laws and restrictions in every state and country for fish snaring. In a SHTF situation, you do what you have to do to survive. But until then, find out what laws apply in your area while you experiment and practice your snaring skills.