Gill Net Fishing for Survival – Preppers Feed Your Family From The Water…

by Raymond D –  – this is an entry in our non-fiction writing contest.

Gill Net Fishing for Survival

I’ve read quite a few articles on this site and others that recommend survival fishing with hook & line, often with collapsible rods. I’ve fished using pretty much every means available since I was a small boy and the methods are not all equal. Even living on the southeast coast I would not advise planning to use a hook & line in a survival situation unless there’s no other option. The volume of fish caught by recreational fishermen compared to commercial netting are greatly different. If your party requires more than a few fish for survival you need to consider a means to meet that demand that’s not a large consumer of your time and effort. I’m not suggesting one needs a fishing trawler and related gear to catch fish but it would be wise to consider something more in the middle such as gill-netting.

You can purchase gill nets in different sizes from Amazon to Ebay. If you live near a fishing area some fishermen will give you partial nets or charge you a small fee for their scraps. Some as short as 12 feet in length with a 4 foot depth that will work very well in sounds, bays, rivers and creeks. Today most states require licenses to use gill nets but when life changes for all of us and those laws are no longer enforced you should be ready with your net or nets.

Small nets are not expensive and I recommend owning several because they don’t last forever and suffer from snags and large fish being caught that can damage or completely destroy a small net. Obtaining a gill net after SHTF may be very hard if not impossible to do so I’d recommend purchasing some mono-filament fishing line for repairs as needed. Also consider a round cast net used mainly to obtain bait minnows. Minnows are great bait for hook & line fishing but I’ve also caught many pounds of shrimp with them and also larger fish that are suitable for the table.

I’ve spent many nights camped on the shoreline while checking the gill nets every hour or so. Try to keep the nets within sight so if a school of fish runs by you can fish the net before it gets too heavy to handle. When I was young empty bleach bottles on the ends helped us keep track of the nets position and plastic bottles or floats in the center helped keep the nets on the surface of the water until the net becomes loaded with fish. Each end of the net must be either be attached to a pole (think sapling) or the bottom anchored with a concrete block. Some lead weights should be placed along the bottom of the net to hold straight in the water.

I understand now in my state net floats must be marked with the owners name and contact information and in some cases the nets have to be monitored full time but at some point we know the regulations will be but a memory. I recommend everyone check their local fishing regulations and try to get some practice before trial and error becomes the difference between hunger and feast. Net placement is essential to success. Yes you can catch stray fish feeding near the shoreline on a dead tide but a running current or tide will make all the difference in the volume of the catch.

During an SHTF situation you’ll most likely want to run a cold camp on the shoreline since fire and light management would likely be essential. Before that time comes you can often build a fire and even use some light but be mindful of the amount of light near the water. Sometimes light seems to attract stray fish while at other times it often impacts a fish school’s path. If you are hook & line fishing some light may be necessary for short periods. If you are also crabbing you’ll need to actually have a light near the water so you can see the crab as you slowly bring it within range of your dip net. Just keep the light a 100 feet or so from your gill net.

Crabbing is fun and a good way to obtain crabs for the stew pot while monitoring your gill net. A raw chicken back or a couple of dead minnows tied together on a piece of twine along with a lead sinker makes an excellent crap bait. Throw the bait out just a few feet from shore and hold the other end of the twine taunt until you feel the crab having a bite. Very slowly begin easing the bait (and crab) back to you. When you see the crab is within reach of your dip net ease the net in the water to the side of the crab and a foot or two away from it. You want the net to approach the crab from the underside in a quick and fluid manner. Your dip net should have an extended handle if possible to extend your reach. Along coastal areas it’s commonly known as a crab net and already comes with a long (5 foot) handle but you can add an extended handle using PVC pipe to any dip net.

It’s obvious by now that I prefer fishing at night and normally catch much more at night during the heat of the summer day. It should be said you must always recon your fishing spot in the daylight. You need to check the wading depth and if the water is clear enough look for areas of debris in the water that may make wading dangerous. It helps to determine the current and tides near your spot because fishing on a dead tide isn’t likely to be good. It doesn’t really matter if the tide is coming in or going out just as long as it’s moving. Dead tides normally only last a couple of hours but its nice to know the timing to plan your fishing.

Finally, keeping your catch fresh normally requires lots of ice. If you don’t have ice try to keep the fish alive on a stringer tied to a pole in the water or put water in your cooler. We’ve kept fish alive for many hours with both methods. No matter how much you catch the greatest thing you’ll carry home is a new or renewed friendship and fellowship with the friends and family who fish with you.
Good luck and good gill net fishing!

Prizes For This Round (Ends on June 7, 2017) In Our Non-Fiction Writing Contest Include…

First Prize a $999 value:

  1. Numanna Organic Family Pack Bucket a $399 value from LPC Survival Ltd.
  2. CampingSurvival Gear Pack a $400 value from Camping
  3. A $200 gift certificate of prepper books from Prepper Press.

Second Prize a $650+ value:

  1. A case of .308 ammo or $300 off Ammo selection of your choice from LuckyGunner.
  2. A Wonder Junior Deluxe Hand Mill with the Masa/Nut Butter Auger, Drill Bit Attachment, and Bicycle Sprocket Kit a $325 value from

Third Prize a $310+ value:

  1. $300 gift certificate from GunMag Warehouse.
  2. A copy of The Prepper’s Guide to Surviving the End of the World, as We Know It: Gear, Skills, and Related Know-How


  1. JP in MT says:

    I’ve done carbing but not gill netting. The opportunity just isn’t there (yet!).

  2. anonymous says:

    Cast nets are pretty effective, but underwater structure can really cause some damage to the nets. Learn how to repair them and where to cast them for the least amount of damage.

    One of Don Paul’s books (24+ WAYS TO USE A HAMMOCK)
    does list using a hammock as a gill net, weighing one side of hammock with weights, the opposite side with floats. An expedient way to use them to feed your family. A dark or neutral colored net would probably net you (see what I did there? :^) better results.

    Thanks for writing this.

    • Stingray says:

      Yes I do see what you did and fit perfectly. Clear mono-filament seems to work best in my experience. I knew an old fishermen when I was much younger who used a thin hemp mesh net and caught as much as anyone else. His position was it was much easier to maintain but the wet weight of it turned me off pretty quick.

  3. Down here on the Texas coast, it’s so hot night fishing is definitely the way to go. We sometimes use a GREEN fluorescent battery powered light to draw the baitfish & then the larger fish follow. That’s when a rod & reel can really work to harvest a bunch of fish with little effort. Pretty sure gill nets aren’t legal here but after TSHTF, I get it………..

  4. I’m from southeast Texas and when I was younger a group of folks would get together and walk out a 100 to 150 foot x 5 foot seine net with poles on each end. We would swim/wade it out and circle back to shore. Caught all sorts of fish and crabs. A couple of pulls and there was plenty to go around. Using a shorter one in the local tidal inlets are the right time of year would produce loads of real nice shrimp. But of course it is illegal today, but after the SHTF..

Before commenting, please read my Comments Policy - thanks!