Fishing is not only enjoyable, it's a good way to introduce healthy proteins in your diet, while avoiding genetically-modified foods (GMOs) that are being fed to farmed livestock, poultry and fish. What's more, freshly-caught fish just tastes better. Keep in mind that it's not just fish you can harvest from America's lakes, rivers and streams. These waterways also hold an abundance of edible crustaceans like clams, crayfish and snails. Fishing is also an essential survival skill and one of the easiest ways to find food in the wild.
Nutritional benefits of fish
There are many benefits to eating fish and seafood, even if you're not in survival mode. Fish are low in calories, low in fat and contain Omega 3 fatty acids, which offer protection against heart disease and possibly stroke and inflammation, according to Dr. Frank Sacks of Harvard University. Catching your own fish and seafood also ensures that you're not consuming any genetically-modified food, since little is known about the long-term effects of consuming such food.
Storing your fresh fish
In order to keep the fish you catch as fresh as possible, be sure to dress them immediately. The head, tail and internal organs should be promptly removed, according to the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. After they are dressed, UKY recommends using two pounds of ice for every pound of fish when storing your fillets in a well-drained cooler or other container. Stored this way, fish should last from 10 to 12 days. Marine life, such as shrimp, clams and snails have a much shorter shelf life. They should be consumed within 48-72 hours. If you're in the wild and there is no ice available, cook and consume your fish immediately.
Fresh fish preparation
Cooking fish in the wild requires a little ingenuity. Since most freshwater fish contain parasites, it's not advisable to eat it raw. Instead, steam it by wrapping the fillets or the entire gutted fish in leaves and boiling them in a makeshift cooking pot over an open fire. You can also cook them on a stick over an open flame, or broil them if you have the means.
Fishing licenses around the United States
Essentially all U.S. states require that you purchase a fishing license to fish on public property. The penalties include fines ranging from a few hundred to thousands of dollars depending on the state and municipality. The cost of a license is relatively cheap compared to the fines. For example, an Alabama boating license and a small boat can give residents of that state access to the Gulf of Mexico and several lakes and rivers for an entire year.
All states make exceptions for true emergency situations, such as if you are lost in the woods and face starvation without harvesting your own food. Always carry a basic fishing kit in your car or backpack. Corcceigh Green, of Survival and Beyond, recommends packing two or three automatic reels, six to eight small sinkers, fish hooks, swivels, nail clippers, a spool of 10-pound test line and small gauge wire for making ad hoc fishing rods. You can also fish with a net if necessary.
Some fishing gear, such as automatic reels, spears and traps are not legal to use in some states, particularly in the western United States, except in an emergency. Check the current regulations when you obtain your license.
Fishing and trapping marine life is a good, healthy way to supplement your diet while getting out and enjoying America's beautiful waterways. It's also an essential survival skill that everyone should have a basic knowledge of doing.