When I go fishing I’m usually not in it for sport, I intend to eat something. Even if you play by the rules there’s an opportunity to eat for cheap and make a dent in your grocery bill.
HUNTING FOR FISH
The best advice I can offer you is talk to the people in your community
who know the place better than you. Go and do what they tell you. Use common sense, don’t be greedy and don’t fish out the stock. Know what the rules and penalties are where you are going. Don’t leave home and not have gear.
Use live bait when you can. When I was fourteen I landed a 12lb pike with a worm and bobber. I’ve caught fish with corn, cheese balls, frogs, dead mice, minnows, leeches, crayfish, grasshoppers, fish eyes, roe, chunks of bacon, dragonflies, moths, grubs, newts and every kind of lure. If I told you I used a kitten for musky I was kidding. A combination of lure and live bait can work best but not all places allow for live bait fishing.
I use a lot of different techniques in a year. It’s a game of percentages. In the right moment the same trick may work for any kind of fish. Learn the tendencies of different fish. Talk to locals, watch fishing shows, experiment, observe and try different things. Taking account of the body of water, its currents, time of year, time of day, weather, type of bait/lure, types of fish present and whether your technique is working will all greatly effect your odds.
Where legal to do so salt the water with something greasy like a piece of salmon roe. When the oil spreads it sometimes turns a quiet hole into a predator hot spot. I put smells on my hands so that my stinky, greasy, cigarette, liqour smells don’t taint my line and lure. Touch your catches so your hands and lures stink like fish. This is important in murky water.
I’ve done a lot of fishing from shore. I use hip waders and often throw down the rivers current. Getting your lure to play properly in the current is key, sometimes this is impossible standing on shore. I look for deep pockets in the water, drop offs, places where currents converge and hiding places. Learn to work your lures in different ways. Figure out where the hunters hide and get their attention. The hip waders are also handy in lakes where deep water is further from shore and often allow me to safely retrieve snagged lures. If I’m fishing far out in them I bring a net.
I find weights on my line are helpful for getting a good cast off but in shallow water they can lead to snags. Quality 8-12lb test fishing line is worth the extra money; it’s thinner, stronger, casts further, tangles less and you lose fewer lures. Always bite off bent, twisted and compromised line and start fresh. Sometimes I find it handy to go to some shithole, like Walmart, and get those 5 packs of red devils/spoons for $5. I don’t want to throw away my best lures in rough or shallow water.
Cheap telescopic rods break easily but you can clip them on your pack with a caribeaner and go anywhere in the bush. Go to yard sales and buy everything that is cheap. I have eight different rods kicking around I don’t care about for other people. Canoes are easier to fish in than cayaks. Get a second hand motorboat if you can. 9 horse motors are cheap at Crappy Tire and good for trolling. Ice fish if it’s winter.
When a fish grabs your line jerk the rod and set the hook deep in its mouth. Keep tension on the line. Set your drag so that if the fish pulls a bit of your line comes out and decrease your chance of breaking it. Be strong if they are going into obstacles, stay with them but try to keep them deep as long as you can so they jump less. If they jump let off so you don’t pull the hook out of their mouth. Let them run if they want but keep tension so the hook stays set. Let them tire out. Being impatient and trying to get the fish in too quickly may result in losing them within your reach when they flail. Use a net.
A lot of people like to drink beer when they fish, fishing with a bobber
works well for this. I’m an active fishermen and I never seem to be able to take my hands off the rod long enough to drink. That’s why I suggest either hard liquor or pre-rolled joints that can just hang out of your mouth while you fish. Instead of trying to pass one joint around sure everyone has their own. Don’t let your hands get too stinky. If you get caught drinking and boating you’ll have a bad day. Make sure your boat isn’t helping an invasive species of plant or animal move to a new habitat. Be a safe boater.
COOKING AND STORAGE
Why not cook it in the pan with some butter over a shoreline fire. I often cook them whole then pull the spine out. Fillet bigger fish. A
large pike can be filleted so you don’t get many bones. Make sure your fillet knife is sharp. I’ve bought a lot of cheap fillet knives over the years. Make a kick ass soup out of the filleted spine.
I think baked fish is best served medium-rare to medium and cooked at 300-325 degrees. Butter, salt, pepper and lemon are a must. Stuff it with onions and garlic. Make your own tartar out of mayo, relish and lemon juice. If you have fillets or salmon steaks dip them in egg then roll them in flour loaded with garlic salt and pepper. Throw them in the deep fryer or a well oiled cast iron pan. Salmon heads make excellent soup. Eating the brain seems bizarre but that’s what a fat craving grizzly bear would want. The cheeks and eyes are rich. Not all fish are fatty enough to sustain you. By making use of the head and bones you can score more precious fatty acids.
I love my smoker. The Little Chief smoker works well. I have a big wooden box with a door and a hole at the top, there’s oven racks inside and a hot plate. I put a pan on the burner with various bits of wood in it. Sometimes I buy premix packs and sometimes I use Cottonwood or whatever is handy. See what trees in your region are used by the locals.
The brine is important, don’t skip on the brown sugar or maple syrup. You can half smoke your fish for a couple hours or leave it for a day or two so it dries. You can use your smoke house like a big dehydrator, add heat but no smoke. You can freeze your smoked fish. You can freeze all of your fish. Canning and pickling fish works but it’s not really for me. Canning, smokehouse and brine recipes are online.
Lastly always keep a spool of fishing line and some hooks in your truck or survival kit. Becoming a ruthless fish killer takes time. If you’re hungry you’ll either learn quick or be glad you learned before. You will need to do more than just read articles. You’ll have to learn to tie your own hooks and put your own worms on them. Good luck!