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January 8, 2009

Survival Fishing by Jason A.

Survival Fishing

From the Yahoo Group Surviving the Day After
Fishing at the End of the World, by Jason A.
Fishing with a single line is not the most effective or efficient use of one's time when the goal is to harvest fish for food. At the best, I have seen fishermen attend to four or five lines with limited success. Any more than that will cost the fisherman bait and bites. When TEOTWAWKI arrives the chances that we find time to enjoy the simpler pleasures—such as wetting a line in the shade while enjoying a brew—will vanish. The purpose of this writing is to describe the several methods that will produce large catches with little or no attention needed. The techniques have varied names depending on where you are from and some work in different ways but the goal is the same: To present lines to the fish with a means to work against the fish, thus hooking it, fighting it and/or notifying the fisherman of a bite. Thus, many of the techniques act essentially as water bound traps. The primary prey pursued with these techniques is catfish. Catfish are one few fish with a very wide range. According to author Joseph S. Nelson, different types of catfish can be found on every continent except Antarctica. (Fishes of the World, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. ISBN 047125031) However, they may not all be edible (I know of several saltwater species that are not). Catfish are very nutritious as well. According to one Internet reference, one three-ounce serving of freshwater catfish contains "about 146 calories, 17 grams of protein and 8.7 grams of fat." Not to mention essential vitamins and minerals.Smaller variants of the methods described and different baits can be used with other species of fish however. It must be said, also, that when fishing for catfish, turtles are likely. However turtles are usually not an unwelcome catch as they are as tasty as catfish (though they are more difficult to pull up). In my home state of Kentucky most if not all fishing techniques have clear and strict regulations to ensure fair harvest and safety. For instance, here in Kentucky sport lines such as are described in this writing must be certain distances from dams and are restricted in bodies of water of certain sizes. In Kentucky, Each sport fishing trotline, jug line or set line must be: 1) permanently labeled with the name and address of the user; 2) baited, checked and all fish removed at least once every 24 hours; 3) removed from water, bank or tree when fishing ceases. Important warning: Check your state and local regulations before embarking upon any fishing venture.Jug LinesI begin this writing with the subject of jug lines because of all of the techniques in this article, there are none more productive or entertaining. As with most fishing techniques there are several variations so experimentation cannot be discounted. Anything that fits the purpose is sufficient. That purpose is nothing more than to present a baited hook to your prey and attach it to something (a jug) that pulls back sufficiently to hook the fish and notify the angler. The jug line advantage is that the line depth can present the bait at multiple depths if the feeding zone is not known. This allows the angler to set multiple jugs at varying depths until a successful depth is discovered. The simplest and most recognizable setup involves nothing more than a jug, a line, a hook and a sinker. The jug could be almost anything that floats. Two liter or 16 ounce soda bottles are fine. Empty and cleaned detergent or bleach bottles are superb as they are thick and float well. As of late, more and more anglers are determined to refine the technique by "building" jugs. The most effective ones are nothing more than a length of PVC pipe threaded through a "pool noodle". The pipe should be longer than the noodle and the noodle should be pushed on and secured to one end. The line and accompaniments are tied to the pipe at the exposed end. Thus, when the fish pulls down, the noodle stands up as notification of a "fish on". The jug can float on the current or it can be anchored by tying on another line or by placing the hook line off the main line by using a swivel. Kentucky laws restrict the quantity of jug lines to no more than 50 per boat. Jug lines may contain only one hook per jug. Check your state and local regulations.Limb Lines (Set Lines)Limb lines are simply lengths of line with the end opposite the hook secured to an overhanging limb. This technique is probably better suited for rivers because limbs overhanging lakes will more than likely be located in shallow water. One variation of limb lines is cane poling, where the limb is provided by the angler. Basically the longest and most sturdy (while flexible) length of cane is equipped with a hook, line, sinker (optional) and bait. The opposite end of the cane is driven deep into the ground of the nearby bank. The arc of the cane is the indication of the bite. Kentucky laws restrict the quantity of limb lines to no more than 25 per person. Set lines may contain only one hook per line.TrotlinesTrotlines are simply limb lines with more than one hook. The additional hooks are attached to shorter lengths of line which are attached to the main line via swivels. Knots keep the swivels from moving the shorter lines where they are unwanted. One end of the line is attached to a stationary object on shore such as a tree (limb or trunk) or a fence post. The other end should be anchored in some way. A coffee can filled with dry cement and an eye bolt is fine or a brick works equally as well. Do not do as most old timers do and bait up your hooks from shore and toss the brick. It is a good way to get an arm (or head) full of hooks. There are variations to the standard trotline. Both ends can be tied to stationary shore objects and the line can be strung across the water with a weight in the center. As with the other techniques improvisation is an art and can yield better results. Kentucky laws restrict the quantity of trot lines to no more than 2 per person. There are also strict regulations on the quantity of hooks per line as well as the spacing of said hooks. The line must also be set three feet or more below the water's surface. HooksHooks must be chosen based on the application. As a general rule, for these techniques, the stronger the hook the better the performance. Stronger is relative not only to the material of the hook (which should be steel) or the thickness (thicker the better) but also the coating. The hooks should be zinc-coated at the very least. Stainless steel is best. Remember that these hooks are going to spend a great deal of time submerged. In fact, the best trotline hooks are probably saltwater hooks. The style of hook to be used is mostly personal preference. Some will argue that certain styles work better. Choose the appropriate hook for the prey and bait. I personally prefer a circle hook as I think it does a better job of hooking the fish and keeping it hooked. I don't have any data to back up this claim. The engineer in me tells me this is correct and that also the deep circular bend would also prove stronger. Maybe one day I'll test that theory. The size of the hook, again, must be chosen to fit the application. Most sizes from size 3/0 to 6/0 are used commonly. The middle ground is the most common. LineThe line used should be strong and most synthetic materials can be used. Cotton should not be used, however. Surveyors twine is strong when dry but is absolutely the worst line to use. The line must be like the hook, impervious to the effects of being submerged for extended amounts of time. Some suppliers in New England offer a line that is tarred for water resistance. Heavy braided fishing lines can also be used. The diameter is not very important. The fish will not see the lines or hooks; they will come to the lines by smelling and feeling the bait. Bait The bait placed on the line will, in most cases, determine the catch. Flathead catfish are notoriously picky and most times will only take live bait such as shiners, chubs or bluegill. Most times, these baits can be lip-hooked. I feel, however, that hooking them through the eye or toward the tail improves the bite. It may seem cruel but the more injured the bait appears, the more likely the predator will strike. Blue catfish and channel catfish will bite live bait and almost anything else including but not limited to: shrimp, leeches, worms, chicken liver or gizzards, catalpa worms, doughbait, stinkbait, and cutbait. It is important not to overlook anything as bait. It should also be noted that certain baits work better on certain days or seasons. The good news is that you can set enough lines to experiment and see what works. LocationThe best places to set jug lines are along large, long flats where large catfish roam, hunting their prey. On lakes, creek arms or shallow bays are prime locations. TimingMost fishermen prefer to try their luck during the hours just before and after dusk and well into the night. Full moon nights seem to produce the best. Catfish are great hunters in any light due to their amazing senses however. Catfish can taste with many different parts of their body. They are sometimes called "swimming tongues". Combine that with the electro receptors in its head and it becomes the perfect killing machine—a virtual freshwater shark—in low light conditions. While Blues and Channels will eat anything, including junk, the Flathead prefers live bait and thus is more vulnerable at night when hunting is easy. After the CatchDespite what many people say, a catfish can be filleted as any normal fish might. Skinning is not necessary but can decrease the amount of meat that is wasted. The knife used for filleting must be very sharp. Use caution. Start with a cut that runs parallel the fish's gills but is rear of the pectoral fin. Make that cut, also parallel to the cutting surface or ground, until the knife hits bone. Remove the knife. Reinsert the knife, with the flat of the blade parallel to the bone you just hit, starting with the tip at the fish's back. While slicing, insert the tip further and work the cuts toward the rear of the fish. If you are contacting the rib bones you are making the cuts deep enough. Once you move the knife rear of the ribs you can insert it straight down and out the other side at the bottom of the fish. Continue rearward, keeping the knife as close to bone as possible. When you have reached the tail, flip the meat over and severe any additional attachment points. After the fillet and skin combination has been removed from the fish lay it on a flat surface with the skin down. Lay the knife blade parallel to the cutting surface and remove the meat from the skin. Place the first fillet in cool clean water with a dash of salt added. The salt will prevent bacteria growth and will season the meat a bit. Repeat for the opposite side. Once your fish have been filleted, wash your hands and proceed with steps to cook your catch. Pat the fish dry and dredge in cornmeal, fry in a cast iron skillet full of cooking oil. Enjoy!ConclusionWhen securing food is of a higher priority than having a good time, the techniques described in this article are far superior to rod and reel. That being said, the entertainment value of simply providing food for the table by hunting a prey and succeeding make the reward just that much tastier.