Survival Trapping and Fishing – A Numbers Game
As I have stated in a previous post, it is difficult to survive in the wild by only gathering wild plants. Unless you can gather nuts or mature seeds it is hard to come up with enough protein to survive. You will almost certainly have to turn to animal protein to meet your body’s needs.
Hunting, in most instances, is one of the least efficient ways to gather animal protein. If you are hunting, that’s all you can do; and you will probably have only one chance to either succeed or fail. Fishing with a pole in your hand presents the same problem. You must remain totally occupied with this one task, and you will either catch fish or you won’t.
Traps and trotlines offer multiple chances for success at the same time, and they will work for you while you take care of other tasks or even while you sleep. The thing about trapping and trotlining is that they are both a numbers game. If you just set out one trap you might as well go hunting. If you just set out one hook you might as well stand on the bank and fish. The idea is to set out as many hooks and traps as possible so that you can maximize your chances of securing food.
Let’s talk about fishing first. It takes considerable cordage to set out a trotline. If you have fifty feet of para-cord you could cut off ten feet, remove the outer sheath, and have seven, ten foot long pieces of 50lb. test nylon to cut up into drop lines. If you don’t have any fish hooks, you can make fifteen or twenty gorge hooks in a fairly short time. If you don’t have any cordage, then I would abandon the idea of a traditional trotline. It would take hours and hours to twist up enough cordage to make such a line. If you have to make your own cordage, then I would recommend that you go with drop lines. A drop line is just a short piece of cordage with a baited hook and weight. Locate an area where low trees and /or bushes hang out over the water, and tie a drop lines to various branches. This won’t get you out into deep water like a trot line stretched across the river, but it will get hooks into the water. You will have to turn up grubs, earthworms, and other insects or larvae to bait your hooks the first time, but if you make a catch you can use fish entrails for subsequent baiting.
Traps can be time consuming to make, but just one trap does not have much chance of securing food. I think that I would set out fishing lines first, then gather materials to make traps around the fire at night. The figure 4 deadfall and the rolling snare are both pretty easy to make. The real time consumption comes when you are selecting locations for your traps and preparing the sets. I would try and set at least ten good traps, and twenty would be better. The more you set, the better your chance of making a catch. If you set baited traps you will have to forage for the initial bait, but once you catch the first animal you can use entrails for subsequent traps.