Survival Fishing; The BASIC Kit

It’s been awhile since we’ve heard from Chefbear, but it appears he’s ready to post again.  He contacted me the other day and asked if I had room for a fishing post.  Hell yeah!  So here’s our very own Chefbear back with some advice about how to catch some fish. 

Hey Chefbear!  Think you could write up your favorite fish recipe for next time?

-Jarhead Survivor


Hello folks, it’s been a little while since I have written a post. With spring upon us and fishing season just around the corner, I figured I would start a series revolving around fishing. As you can see from the pictures (new for my articles!), I am no stranger to wetting a line! These pictures are from a striper/rockfish trip in the Chesapeake Bay last October.

 Fishing is not only a load of fun, but it’s also a great way to teach folks patience, teach folks about the natural world (great for kids), it’s a great way to get outdoors with family/friends … and contrary to common belief, you don’t have to be drunk to enjoy it (but it doesn’t hurt)! Fishing is also a relatively low cost, low-tech, low effort way of obtaining nutrition. What’s really awesome about utilizing fishing as a way of obtaining protein is that in most areas there are predictable migration patterns for different fish species. This will allow you to catch massive quantities of fish and preserve them for later (Learn more about preserving foods, including fish HERE and HERE). Fishing also tends to have a higher caloric return than hunting, meaning that you burn fewer calories for each calorie you obtain.

 Don’t believe the “hype”, some guys on TV say you need some $300 Browning bait-casting rod/reel combo… THEY LIE! I have seen a 9yr old girl land an 11.2lb bass with a snoopy pole!! Personally, I own a fishing pole for almost any situation… from a tiny ice-fishing pole… to a 14’ surf-rod… and even a 4.5’ Extra-Heavy Penn off-shore rig for deep sea fishing. However my FAVORITE “all around” rig is a basic Shakespeare “Ugly-Stick” which is a Medium/heavy freshwater combo, it was $30 and has worked GREAT for 4yrs now. Using 15lb test, I have landed 30lb catfish on this baby!

I am going to explain what I have in my BASIC kit. I keep one in my JEEP, and a matching kit in my hunting pack (doubles as a 72hr bag). This kit is good for catching just about any freshwater fish found near the east coast, and some smaller saltwater fish.

– Water-tight box, mine are about 6”Wx8”Lx4”D, it have a gasket and heavy clips that ensure a water-tight seal. I got mine at Gander Mtn. for $15ea., may be cheaper online

– 150yds- 15lb test Spider-Wire Super Monofilament, wound around a notched 3”L dowel

– 50-75yds of Spider-Wire Super-Braid Saltwater 60lb test, for trot-lines, I use another dowel for this

– Small set of nail clippers, great for trimming line close to knots

– 6 Daiichi red hooks, 3- #6 and 3- #8

– 6 Eagle-Claw gold hooks, 3- #6 and 3-#8

– 6 Eagle-Claw standard barbed hooks, 3-#6 and 3-#8

– 6 “salmon egg” hooks, I like gold Eagle-Claw

– 4 – 4/0 stainless steel circle hooks, I use these for trot lines

– I keep most of my hooks stuck into a piece of Styrofoam that’s about 4”x2”x1”. It can be used as a float if needed

– 1.5-2oz of Various sizes of split-shot weights

– 4 – ¾ – 1oz weights for trot-lines, a rock will work in a pinch

– 1 pack of “Fish-bites” bloodworm, works for salt/freshwater. Mesh inside keeps it on the hook, possible to catch several fish on one small piece

– Berkley Gulp, crappie/trout nuggets- corn/grub “flavor” work best, I keep ½ a pack pink/white and ½ pack chartreuse. Take them out of the jar and put them into a zip-top bag, uses less space

– 6 snap-swivels, I get the next-to-smallest ones I can find

– 2-4 – 8” steel leaders, work great if there are toothed predators (pike… I HATE PIKE!), can be used as snares/lashings

– Power Bar- bait in a pinch (Carp and catfish LOVE peanut butter flavor), eat it if you don’t catch anything

– 3’x1’ piece of folded up tin-foil, use it to cook, tear a couple small strips and glue them to a salmon egg hook to make a lure

– Super Glue- can be used to secure knots, close small wounds and ALWAYS handy!

– Swiss army knife, I prefer the Boy Scout or US Army models

– 4 small 1” cigar style bobbers because they fit in the box better

– 4 “beetle-spin” lures, I like 2 gold and 2 silver

– 8 ½ inch curly tail grubs, 4 white and 4 chartreuse, use with the beetle-spin lures, almost anything will bit this combo!

– 12’ Para chord… among other things, makes a great stringer!

– A small tube of “reel-grease”

– Individually wrapped Wet-wipes

– Small bottle of hand sanitizer

– Pencil wrapped with 6’ duct tape & 6’ electrical tape

– 2 compressed towels; they usually come compressed to 1”x1”. I get mine at the dollar store, open up to 6”x8”

– 2”x2” bag- a few tbsp dish soap, 1tbsp mixed with 1 quart water can coax worms out of the ground, use it to wash up, double bag it!!

– 1”x1” bags of seasonings- I like salt, pepper, old-bay, powdered lemon/lime juice/zest, Cajun blackened seasoning, dill, dehydrated onion/shallots, granulated garlic, powdered coconut milk, yellow curry powder- I pack these in their own bags, about 1.5tbsp each, and then pack the bags into a zip-top “snack-size” bag. This makes it take much less space!

Again this is just a basic kit, and I know that seems like A LOT of stuff to fit in that little box. It does take a little imagination to make it work… but it can be done! If you keep just half of the gear I do, you will be set-up to catch just about anything that swims your way! I also usually keep an ice-fishing pole in my JEEP, it was $9 on sale and works great for pan fish, but nothing much bigger.

In the next article I will explain some reasonably priced (under $50) rod/reel combo options which will cover most of the freshwater, and some lighter saltwater fishing many of us might come across. I will also tell you where you can get them, and what makes them a good choice.

OK guys it’s your turn… Do you have a basic/emergency fishing kit? If so what’s in it? If not have you considered getting/making one? Is there anything you think I missed? Are there any particular fishing rod/reel combos you would like me to focus on in the next article?

As usual, if you have any questions/comments/concerns I am interested to hear (or I guess *read* would be more appropriate!) them, just leave them in the comments section! THANKS GUYS!

23 comments… add one
  • Christine April 2, 2011, 1:02 pm

    That is a great list, Chefbear. It looks similar to mine. Here is something I figured out on my own: You know how catfish and crappie love doughballs? I keep a ziploc baggie of instant pizza dough mix in my kit. Just a pinch of it, mixed with a tiny bit of water or spit, makes a little white doughball that will stay on a hook. My son and I have caught tons of panfish on the spur of the moment with the kit that we keep in the car, without having to stop and buy bait. Also it is really cheap- at Walmart you can get an envelope of the Great Value brand for $0.44. That is enough to make doughballs for a long time, especially if you put it in a ziploc bag after opening. It takes a few tries to learn not to make them too wet. Have something to wipe your hands on.

    • ChefBear58 April 2, 2011, 11:52 pm

      I have used home-made doughballs for catfishing, a couple thingas that I have noticed-
      -If you have an Asian market nearby, (Of course this does not happen in an emergency) DIED PIG BLOOD, AKA blood-cakes, crumbled up into the dough… They can’t get enough!
      -Cornflakes is what we usually use around here, just open a box, add 1 cup of water, mix it up and you get a nice paste, this stuff is like carp-CRACK!
      -Bacon Grease mixed into the flour, etc. makes the dough-balls dissolve more slowly, and if you add garlic salt (the only thing it’s good for, IMO) it will help to attract them from all over the place!

      Christine, I have to admit… I am usually the first person to find an alternate use for any given food! Good job! I haven’t ever thought of just having some mix in my kit, I have always mixed it up at home, freeze it for an hour or so before I leave to hit the water, and pack it in ice while I am not using it. If you keep it as cold as possible, then it won’t stick to your hands nearly as bad; You can also wet your hands just a little, and it will help the sticking problem & make it come off your hands easier. Make sure to either rinse off your hands in the water you are fishing/dump the water you wash the dough off with into the water, it will “chum” the water a little and get the fish to start feeding!

  • Ranger Man April 2, 2011, 4:17 pm

    It’d be interesting to read a post on survival fishing, taking a basic survival kit like this and putting it to use, where to find fish for survival purposes. By that I mean, if you HAD to catch a fish, where is the best place to look, cast your line, etc.

    • ChefBear58 April 2, 2011, 11:56 pm

      Between the spring and summer semesters this year, I am planning on taking my girl on a “back-country” backpacking/camping trip either here in VA, or in her state TN. I was thinking of this same idea for “the project”, but I could work a post out of it to. The only problem is that you could probably dedicate an entire site to finding places that are holding fish! Everywhere is different, but there are some signs that are fairly universal, at least from my experience.

      If we go camping at the beach (it’s a “toss-up” right now), then I can show the same ideas, except for saltwater.

  • Rick Lee April 2, 2011, 6:30 pm

    nice list – thanks for posting this. The superglue idea is great! I *personally* don’t need that ice fishing rig! ;-)
    Rick from Tampabay.

    • ChefBear58 April 3, 2011, 12:01 am

      I said the same thing at first, about the ice-fishing pole, but then I thought about how hard a crappie will fight on my Shakespeare Micro-Light and figured the smaller pole would put up even more of a fight! I was right!
      And if it gives folks a laugh seeing a 6′, 290lb power-lifter/former football player laughing his tail off, while reeling in crappie left and right on that TINY pole… then that’s even better!

      I LOVE super-glue! I actually had to use some earlier today to glue my half ripped off fingernail back to my finger, so I could keep working! Burns like hell, but it certainly does the trick!

  • irishdutchuncle April 2, 2011, 7:39 pm

    good looking fish there Chefbear! leave a few for me at island beach, or henlopen… (i don’t usually get any farther south than fenwick)
    i’ll look foreward to seeing your best recipes for stripers, and bluefish.

  • ChefBear58 April 3, 2011, 12:10 am

    I can’t promise I won’t catch all the big ones before they can head your way after 4/16! Trophy season opens that weekend, and we are heading out to catch them coming into the Chesapeake Bay, last year the biggest was 57lbs, and 5’11”, with a big ol’ FAT belly on ‘er!

    Personally, I can’t stand eating blues, they just have some horrible oily/metallic taste that I can’t handle, but I have had people tell me they love my “mock crab cake”. I use steamed blue fillets to make them.
    Rockfish though, is a TOTALLY different story! I like it best dipped in beer batter (I use Red Hook, or Trinity red ale) and deep-fried in peanut oil.
    I am planning to make the last article in the series a list of simple recipes, which use wild ingredients commonly found in the mid-Atlantic.

    • irishdutchuncle April 3, 2011, 7:53 am

      my mouth is watering, just thinking about it.

    • ChefBear58 April 3, 2011, 9:44 pm

      Sorry I just realized a typo in this comment- where it says *5’11″* it was **4’11’** Sorry!

  • ChefBear58 April 3, 2011, 12:19 am

    Jarhead- I will write my favorite recipe for fish in the comments section of the next post! Just because you asked nice!

    • Jarhead Survivor April 3, 2011, 9:28 am

      Looking forward to it!

  • Nor' Country April 4, 2011, 2:48 am

    I used to make little survival fishing kits out of 35mm film canisters. I put in a couple of steel leaders for pike, a 1/2 dozen or so flies, some lead weights and rubber worms. I put an assortment of hooks on a safety pin. (If you have ever dropped a handful of hooks on the ground, you will surely understand the safety pin trick. I have also poked the safety pin into the end of a stick and used it as an “eye”…) For line, I just wrapped about 50′ around a sewing machine bobbin. On the outside of the film canister, I wrapped about 12 inches of orange duct tape around it. When I need a bobber, I just peel back the tape and lay the line on the canister and then re-wrap the tape. The white plastic canisters are easier for me to see than the black ones with the gray lids… Keep that in mind if you decide to build your own kit. The contents will jiggle enough to drive a guy like me crazy while I walk around with the kit in my shirt pocket, so I stuffed in a cotton ball. I have never tried to tie a fly using the cotton, but I guess it could work in a pinch…

    Remember the fisherman’s creed?
    Early to bed, early to rise, fish like hell, and make up lies….

    • ChefBear58 April 4, 2011, 4:25 pm

      Haven’t said I have heard that one, but I LIKE IT!

      I have never had much luck using flies, my grandfather used to use them when we would go fishing in the mangroves down on the Florida coast, but that was the one fishing skill I was unable to learn from him.
      The smallest kit I have managed was a snap-close bar soap container, but it is set up for very specific areas and species. The kit I wrote the article about covers my excursions into MD, PA, TN, WV, OH, NC and all the local stuff here in VA. It even covers some salt water species.
      The problem with any “down-sized” fishing kit is that you have to decide between gear/space or weight. The key is to find what combination of supplies will give you the best results for areas you will likely find yourself.

      • Nor' Country April 5, 2011, 7:28 pm


        You are right on target… My little kit is very regional specific, even stream specific…

        You have good ideas… Did you ask me about bota bags?

        • ChefBear58 April 6, 2011, 12:23 am

          Thank you for the compliment!

          On Survival Cache wasn’t it? I know I asked someone about them not long ago, I just can’t remember if it was here or there… all this studying lately is literally frying my brain!

          • Nor' Country April 6, 2011, 2:36 pm

            @ ChefBear…
            Yes, on Survival Cache…

            Keep up the good work brother…

          • ChefBear58 April 6, 2011, 8:30 pm

            Thanks Nor’Country, I will try!

            The next article is going to cover rod/reel combos (since it’s a cheaper way to buy a rig). The article after that will cover tackle (hooks, line, weights and a few smaller “all around” lures). I am “on the fence” about the 4th section of the series… maybe you could help me decide… I am torn between going into detail about lure/bait selection for particular environments/species -OR- identification of potential “honey-holes”, or what to look for to increase the odds of finding fish to try and catch.

            What do you think bud?

          • ChefBear58 April 6, 2011, 8:33 pm

            Sorry I forgot, yes that was me! Good to see you on here to!

  • Jennie April 5, 2011, 3:56 pm

    I live in Iowa, where all 99 counties have waterways the DNR classifies as “impaired.” I hear about fisheries in my state that exist solely to stock Iowa rivers with fish every season. Fishers sign up to get text messages when new releases are scheduled for favorite streams, and that just seems really odd to me.
    So, I guess my worries are two fold here.
    1) In a state with more cows and pigs than humans, and massive chemical laden fields of corn, and with all the waste problems that come with those activities, do I really want to be eating fish out of the streams?
    2) Is fishing still going to be around when money dries up and the fisheries quit stocking the rivers?
    I’m certainly not opposed to fishing, I grew up fishing with my Louisiana relatives, and I love (and miss) fried catfish for breakfast.
    I’m just not certain it’s a feasible backup plan for protein in my current state.
    I’d welcome thoughts on either of my points.

    • ChefBear58 April 6, 2011, 1:47 am

      Those are some pretty complex issues!
      For the human-helped fish populations- it is reasonable to assume that within a few years of having less negative human influence, the fisheries should start coming back on their own. This is of course considering that the other issue you mentioned has not completely destroyed the environments capacity to replenish itself. This is also assuming that you find/have food sources that will get you through until these waterways start producing by themselves again!

      One thing you could do is try to locate some of those stocking fisheries near you. I have talked with several similar minded people as myself (and most folks who converse on this and other similar sites) and they haven’t thought of scoping out similar places around here. We have a few trout “farms” that are run by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (same as DNR) within 10 miles of my house. There are also several tilapia and catfish farms within a days walk. The big thing is that the “average citizen” in the area has absolutely no clue where these fisheries are, so they wouldn’t know there were potential food sources nearby!

      In your area finding one of those fisheries might be worth more than striking a vein of gold in your back yard during a TEOTWAWKI situation. Especially since there are various chemicals and farm run-off in the waterways. These fisheries are typically completely separated from water sources such as rivers and streams, or at least they tend to be around here (except in the mountains where they are up-stream from contaminants), to prevent contamination.

      You could also try to find areas near you that are up-stream from farms and the pollutants they put into the waterways, but I don’t know how feasible that is in your area.

      There is another option you could consider, it’s a method my grandfather showed me for “cleaning out” crawdads/crabs of contaminants which could work for fish, at least in theory. If you have access to a pond or could make your own, you could catch fish from the local streams, rivers, lakes, etc. and place them into your controlled pond. Allow them to live in there for a few days/weeks, providing the food for them from what you know to be clean (i.e. vegetation from your garden, or the forests near you, if you have predators like bass you could keep a smaller pond stocked with minnows/bluegill/bream/other small fish and use them as feed). After they have been in the pond for a little while some of the contaminants in them should be “passed”, by keeping a few catfish or other scavengers in the pond you could create a natural filtration system. I will admit that this would take a lot of work. However it might be an option for a long term food source, because without the complex chain of supply we enjoy (and even take for granted) today, obtaining wholesome food will be extremely challenging/difficult (compared to going to the store).

      I hope this helps you, at least a little bit! It might be a good idea to consult your DNR (Department of Natural Resources, for those who don’t know what that acronym means) about state/federal funded fish-farms/nurseries/fisheries in your area, they may turn out to be a wealth of potential
      starvation-staving knowledge!

  • joshua December 5, 2016, 5:42 pm

    Hey what’s the exact number of the Plano box you are using for you kit? 3440? 3700?

  • NY Angler Forum May 8, 2019, 8:16 am

    Hi, Thanks for sharing these Amazing and Interesting Fishing Kit. All of these are very helpful.


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