Primitive Gorge Hook – Survival Fishing

Primitive Survival Fishing 101 - Catch and Cook

Hey Group, today we're going to be building a fishing rig completely from what I can forage, using just my knife to cut down the tree and do the rough shaping of the hook.


  • Yucca leaf for fishing line - one large leaf
  • Tree branch or shoot - clean most of the small offshoots from the main shaft.
    • I use a Spanish Buckeye, it is green, flexible, and the branches are quite long.
  • Agave spine for the hook
  • Bait - Worms, grubs, small insects
    • Tear into rotten logs, under rocks, or catch crickets or grasshoppers by hand if you can

Yucca Cordage:

  1. Beat/slap/whip the agave against a log, tree trunk or rock. This breaks up the fibers and outer "shell" of the leaf.
  2. When the leaf begins breaking up, separate the fibers with your fingers and continue whipping it to get the fibers broken down even more.
  3. When you have the leaf down to individual fibers, cut them off from the leaf and you can begin twisting the cordage.
  4. For this purpose, I'm using a base of three fibers. For a stronger line I'd use more - if I was snaring large game or catching larger fish.
  5. Begin by folding your small bundle in half, you will pinch this bend to get the cordage started.
  6. Twist the nearest strands to you away from you.
  7. Bring the far strands across over the near strands.
  8. Twist the nearest strands to you away from you.
  9. Bring the far strands across over the near strands.
  10. You've now completed one full twist of the final line.
  11. As you near the ends of your initial strands, grab a fiber or two, lay the middle on your twist and integrate it into the next twists of the cordage.
  12. When it get near it's ends, add another piece into your twist.
  13. Repeat this until you have the full length of your line.
    • This will likely be 10 - 20 feet or longer, depending on the length of your rod and distance to the water from where you're positioned. You can sit a few feet up off of the water by adding length to your line.
  14. Tie a simple overhand knot in the end to secure the twisted cordage.

Gorge Hook:

  1. Using a knife or cutting implement, trim the sides down on the agave spine to rough shape the gorge hook.
    • If this isn't available, you can "file" the whole leaf against a sharp rock edge until it is rough shaped, but this will take significantly longer.
  2. Using a semi-rough surfaced rock, file the side down to make a short double pointed hook.
    • To see what your progress occasionally wet it down by dipping it in water or pressing a finger to your tongue to wipe the dust off of the hook.
  3. When you've got it down to the right length and width for the expected fish, score the middle of the spine against the corner of a rock to give your line a groove to sit in, like the eye on a fish hook.
    • Don't score this too deep or you will break your gorge hook in half.

Fishing Rig:

  1. Using a single strand of fiber, wrap several clove hitches around the gorge hook, securing it on like a leader.
  2. On the other end of this single strand, tie an over hand on a bight.
  3. Pass the bight through the loop that was formed when you made your main line, and then pass the hook through the bight, making a lark's head or ram's head knot. This will actually rollover the main line and make a square knot securing the bights together.
  4. Take the other end of your main line and secure it near the bottom of your fishing line using a clove hitch.
  5. Make a half hitch around the pole every three or four feet to keep the line along the shaft of the pole.
  6. A few inches from the tip, you will want to tie another clove hitch to secure the line to the pole.
  7. Now your rod is set up and you're ready to fish. Find a spot on the water's edge and get to baiting your hook!

Cleaning Fish:

  1. Scale using a knife blade or the edge of a sharp rock, scrape against the scales.
  2. Cut just behind the jaw line/under the gills to open up the abdominal cavity; you can reach in with your fingers and pull out the guts and entrails.
    • You can trash this, or it can be used as bait for catching rodents or raccoons and opossums.
  3. Leave the head intact as it will allow for better positioning of the fish on the skewer while cooking.


  • Find straight, limber, green limbs to use for skewers. Too dry and they will break or burn and drop your fresh catch into the fire.
  • Briar Vine: the new shoots at end of plants can be harvested by squeezing and pulling directly away from body of the plant. Tastes like green beans.
  • Wild Onion: identified by clusters of white seeds, cut the shoots and leave the bulb in the ground.
  • Prickly Pear Tunas: observe the flat beaver tail shape of pads, be sure not to get the thorns (called glochids) in your fingers. When ripe, these will turn pink to purple and have a delicious, sweet flavor. These aren't quite ripe but will tend to a cucumber or okra flavor.
  • Chiltepin Pepper: I had these freeze dried from a prior picking,

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Clean the limbs using hands or a cutting implement to trim any leaves or growths.
  2. Sharpen the tips to make it easier to push into the vegetables and fish.
  3. Make a bundle of the briar vine and onion shoots (and any other forage you have) as you prep each fish.
  4. Stuff the bundle into the body cavity.
  5. Skewer the fish through the mouth and press the skewer toward the tail. You may need to wiggle or roll the skewer to get it through the meat in the tail.
    • Make sure your fingers are out of the way of the skewer when it breaks through the tail.
  6. Place the prickly pear tunas on the skewers so that they will bake over the fire and the glochids will be scorched off
  7. Use two large rocks or stumps, one on each side of the fire to support the skewers.
    • You can also cut forked branches and place them in the ground, but make sure they will not catch fire and they are deep enough to be stable and not fall over.
  8. Turn the fish every few minutes to get even cooking throughout the fish.
  9. Cook until they are a golden brown all around. They should feel firm and a bit crispy.
  10. Try to find the bottom of the ribcage and peel it back. You can then pull the ribs out in a cluster. Alternatively, you can nibble at the meat on the ribs and it will fall off easily.
  11. Pick at the meat wherever you can find it, just be aware of the small bones throughout the fish.
  12. Break the tunas open and eat the flesh inside.
  13. Keep the bones and gristle to the side and they can be stewed up for a nutrient packed fish soup.

Video Notes:

  • I made 10 foot of 1/10" to 1/8" line in 2 hours - that includes cutting the leaf, stripping the fibers and twisting the cordage.
    • This will probably take you three or four times as long the first time or two that you do it. I highly recommend practicing skills like these in a controlled environment, like a camping trip when you have backup food in case you don't catch dinner.
  • Hook is about 30-45 minutes of grinding and filing against a rock.
  • I built a log cabin fire to start, and ignited it using a ferro rod.
  • Sunfish, Bluegill, & Cichlids
    • Texas has no minimum length or bag limit for the sunfish family

[youtube v = "J4KXGjPPlxY" ratio = "16:9"]

Comments are closed.