Another terrific guideline to follow when fishing is the ever-popular "Match the Hatch!" This simply means to choose a presentation (a lure) that best imitates exactly what the fish are currently eating. Simple, right? For example, if you want to catch bass and the bass are feeding primarily on shad, then tie something on that is silver and about the same size as the shad the bass are eating. Then give yourself an advantage by making your lure stand out a bit by making it look like the one injured shad in the bunch! Fish are opportunists and love an EASY meal over a challenging one. They are all about easy calories just like we survivalists!
As usual, there are a few exceptions to some of these rules. How you fish also depends a bit on what species of fish thrive in a particular body of water. Some fish (like trout) primarily eat insects as opposed to "bait fish". Others (like smallmouth bass) feed on crayfish (not exclusively however) when available. Carp and catfish are omnivors but usually prefer stationary offerings on the bottom. Largemouth bass are voracious eaters that will even consume mice, frogs, ducklings and other medium sized snacks right off the surface of the water. This is where learning the behavior and feeding patterns of particular fish species can really help you out. Become a student of fish behavior! Go fishing!
Fish Catching Methods
When most people think of fishing, they do tend to picture a classic rod and reel combination, whether you are float fishing, casting, trolling or even fly fishing. If you are even a moderately experienced fisherman, then this can indeed be a great way to reliably catch your next meal. If not, you could be setting yourself up for disappointment. If you are not an experienced fisherman, there are other options. You can set up what is called a "bank line" which is basically a line you lay across the water, securely fastened at each end, with multiple lines dangling down from it into the water with hooks on the end and baited. Fish can also be shot with a bow (or slingshot) and arrow if properly rigged. A spear is also a viable method for catching fish in a survival situation, but bow fishing and spear fishing are methods that will also take practice. You can even catch fish reliably in a survival situation with various net or trap techniques (but be careful... these methods are illegal in some states. Check local laws or practice on private waters).
Most importantly, if you are planning on relying on fishing as a means to provide food for you and your family, don't wait until an actual survival situation to break out your "Altoids Tin Fishing Kit" or other pocket fishing kit. Don't assume that just because you have the "necessary equipment" that you are just automatically going to be able to get results with it. Just like with any of your other survival gear, practice with it. Your life could depend on it!
Fishing is Seasonal
While you may get some great results fishing in the Spring or Summer months catching fish for your lunch or dinner, you may quickly find yourself unsuccessful during the winter months using the very same methods you used to catch fish in the Spring. No problem, just make a few adjustments!
Fish are behave very differently during different times of the year, and there are reasons for this. As indicated before, fish are cold-blooded animals. This means that temperatures have a dramatic effect on their metabolisms. Cold water slows them down. Warm water invigorates them. And hot water can tend to slow them down again and push them deeper to cooler temperatures. So as you can see, fish behavior is not the only thing that is impacted by seasons/temperatures. Fish location is also.
Does this mean that you can't catch fish in the winter time? Absolutely not. Contrary to what many people think, fish do not "hibernate" during the winter per se, but their behavior is definitely impacted by colder temperatures. You are just going to have to adjust your methods significantly in order to cath fish in the cold. For starters, during the colder months you are going to really have to slow down. Fish metabolisms slow way down when the temperatures drop. Factor this into your survival plan. Fish tend to "migrate" within a body of water according to seasons and temperatures. They tend to move toward waters that are more comfortable. That comfort zone is different for different species of fish.
Spawning is another huge variable in fishing and the spawn is definitely correlated to the seasons. Each species spawns at different times because they each need different conditions for a successful spawn. For most fresh water species spawning takes place sometime in the spring. Fish tend to feed voraciously prior to the spawn ("pre spawn")and then don't eat during the spawn. They dedicate themselves to guarding their eggs and fry. Once the fry are big enough the parents then begin to feed voraciously again in the "post spawn". And so on into the Summer, Fall, and Winter. See how this knowledge can help you make adjustments to your fishing patterns?
Choosing Promising Fishing Waters:
More than any other factor, your ability to catch fish is going to be most determined by your access to quality fishing waters. Not every body of water contains quality fish suitable for eating. Fish thrive in certain types of waters and are scarce in other types of waters. Water clarity, good cover, good food sources, vegetation, oxygen, and water temperatures are some of the primary ingredients that make up a good fishery.
Fish can’t just live in any kind of water. Fish require oxygen just like we do, but they use gills to extract this oxygen from the water they live in. Not all water is well oxygenated, so they will move to the water with better oxygen levels if they can.
Fish also don’t generally prefer strong current. They tend to be opportunists that conserve energy until a quality meal comes along, waiting in “eddies” (breaks in the current) for a meal to swim by them. They will however make sure to stay in close range of a food source at all.
In a survival situation, you are going to have to be even more cautious than usual about pulling your food out of polluted waters. Waters will become more polluted in a SHTF scenario, so you are going to have to choose your fishing waters more carefully. Other careless survivors are going to be dumping waste and relieving themselves in the water you are going to use as your source of drinking water and as a food supply.