When you are stranded in the wild, there are certain tools that can make all the difference in the world. This means that you must be very selective about what you might carry with you in the woods. To make this decision, you must consider the four pillars of survival. These are food, water, fire, and shelter.
The reason that these items are considered the four pillars of survival is called the rule of threes. You can survive three weeks without food, three days without water, and three hours without warmth from fire or shelter. Items like a fire starter or water filter become very important, but why would a pocket fishing kit be so important if you can make it three weeks without food? Most survival scenarios are resolved within a three-week period.
To understand this, you must understand the effects that starvation can have on your body. Yes, you can stay alive for three weeks without food. However, as you go several days without food your body starts to eat itself for energy. It starts with your fat reserves, but once they are depleted your body moves on to muscle tissue. This will cause fatigue, muscle pain, and a lack of muscle coordination. All of these symptoms make it pretty difficult to survive in the wilderness.
However, your body is not finished. It soon will move on to eating your internal organs including your brain matter. Over the course of three weeks you can lose almost 1/3 of your brain mass. This leads to nausea, confusion, disorientation, migraines, extreme abdominal pain, lack of ability to reason, and blackouts. These symptoms can actually kill you before starvation does, and they make it almost impossible to survive. It is so easy to make survival mistakes, vomit up all of your water, get lost, or collapse and crack open your head when dealing with extreme starvation.
There is a big reason that you almost always see survivalists on television trying to fish to survive. Your body needs protein, fats, and calories more than anything. It is easy to get vitamins and minerals from foraging for veggies, but it does not provide much protein or many calories. You can try to hunt or trap for meat. However, hunting and trapping expends calories and has a very limited rate of success.
Fishing is one way that you can have success in almost any body of water. If you have the tools that are needed, you can successfully fish in ponds, lakes, rivers, streams, and the ocean. Fish provide high levels of protein, calories, fats, and vital oils. One of the best meals you can ever consume in a survival scenario is a fish stew with a fatty broth. You can even use the scraps for trapping or for bait for further fishing.
I personally have used a pocket fishing kit on several survival challenges as my only source of food. In my very first survival challenge I spent the entire first day building my shelter and trying to stay hydrated. Then, on my second day I spent just 30 minutes at a pond close by and caught a five-pound bass. After the three hours it took to start a fire, I had a fish feast. I made a broth for a meal later on, and I buried the head to make fish-head soup the next day. I ended up getting a total of four good meals out of just that one fish and made it through my first survival challenge just fine.
What is a Pocket Fishing Kit?
A pocket fishing kit is exactly what the name states. It is a kit for fishing that you can fit in your pocket. Many people put their kit in a mint tin or a bandage tin. They must be small but also packed with useful tools for fishing. You are probably used to taking a rod, reel, tackle box, and net with you when you fish. None of this is needed if you are selective about what you pack in your kit. Some people carry these kits with them every day, while others put them in their bug out bags.
What to Pack?
There are several items that should be in any good pocket fishing kit. Here are the ones I suggest:
Hooks – There are dozens of different sizes and styles of hooks, and they are a vital part of your pocket fishing kit. It is likely you will fish with some live bait at some point, so this is where hooks will come in. There are three types of hooks that I always have in my kit.
- I like to have some medium sized treble hooks. If you are not familiar with these, they have three separate barbs to hook a fish. They are great for snagging fish if you have a high density of fish with no bait. You can also string worms or any other live bait on them. These take up some space, so just two or three is fine.
- I like to have some large bass hooks that are ideal if you know that there are fish two pounds or larger in your water source. These are perfect for going after a big meal.
- Finally, I like to have some small trout hooks. If you know the fish in your water sources are smaller than two pounds, this is the way to go. Because of the metallic shimmer on hooks, you can sometimes get a fish to strike even without bait.
Fishing Line – Obviously you need something to attach to your hook to reel in your fish. There are a variety of different strengths and styles of line available.
- If you are only going to use the fishing line for fishing, I would suggest five-pound test line. This should handle pretty much any normal fish you would catch in the wild.
- The exception would be if you are going to an area with an abundance of very large fish, or if you plan to use the fishing line as cordage. You can use fishing line to build shelters, fashion tools, and weave nets if it is strong enough.
I personally pack five-pound test line, but I have seen people use line all the way up to 50 -pound test. Keep in mind that the thicker your line is, the less you can fit in your kit. I like to have between 30 and 50 feet of line in my kit as this is the range to which I can normally cast. You only need more if you are using it for cordage.
Sinkers – It is a good idea to have some weights in your kit for dropping your hook and bait to the bottom. In some cases, this is the only way you will catch a fish. You can have a variety of different weights if you want, but I like to go very small with my sinkers. You can always put multiple sinkers on a line if you need to add weight. Small sinkers fit best in your kit as they will fall into the little nooks and crannies.
Bobbers/Floats – Bobbers are always nice as you can cast your line and then just watch for a bite. They are also great for setting your bait at a specific water depth. However, most traditional bobbers will not fit in a pocket kit. To make this work you must get a little creative. I like to cut up corks into small pieces and paint them hunter orange. These will fit in your kit and work just as well. Just be careful how much weight you put on your line as you might pull the cork under.
Lures – Artificial lures are great for bringing in fish, but most do not fit into a pocket kit. However, there are a few exceptions. You can often fit a couple small spoons or spinners in your kit. To create a similar effect, you can also include some aluminum foil for a shimmer. Plastic worms are a classic, but I typically tear them in half, so they fit better. This also allows you to feed your hook into the center of the worm. I find this allows you to set the hook better once you get a bite. Rubber jigs are great for crappie and bluegill and are small enough to fit into your kit.
There are a few other things you may want to consider with your kit. Organization can be an issue as all of these items can become a tangled mess. You may want to get some tiny ziplock bags to keep some of your items separated. You also want to be sure that your case will not open in your pocket. If you wrap your line around the outside of the case, it will keep it closed and free up valuable space inside. Hooks can be shoved into a small piece of cardboard to keep them organized. I also sometimes put some hooks or lures in the bill of my ball cap once I hit the woods to free up some space. If you can make your kit water tight, it will float in the case that you drop it in the water. These can all make your pocket fishing kit more efficient.
A good pocket fishing kit can give you an almost endless supply of quality food in the right circumstances. However, the choices you make about the items inside will have dire consequences. There is nothing more frustrating than needing food, having a pocket fishing kit, and it not producing any fish. One suggestion not mentioned above is to adjust your kit based on your surroundings. The kit I take to the Ozark Mountains would be completely different from the kits I would take to a beachside location. Know your area and make adjustments, specifically with artificial lures. If you evaluate your kit and make the needed changes, it will surely help you stay alive.