When I first saw this World War II Emergency Fishing Kit, I knew I had to buy it to see it in person, and it didn't disappoint. This kit and similar versions were created for pilots and life boats. The fishing kits were produced by the Ashaway Line & Twine Mfg. Company in Rhode Island with components and input from others. Ashaway was founded by Captain Lester Crandall who manufactured fishing line. He devised and perfected several line-making machines. Today the company manufactures strings for racket sports.
By 1943, they were standard equipment on all life boats, life rafts and life floats used by the U.S. Navy, Army Transport Corp, U.S. Coast Guard, Maritime Commission, Navy-Air and Army-Air.
Perhaps the most fascinating item in the kit is the instruction manual. Below I've included photos of each item along with the instructions. The kit provided many different methods to catch fish and includes how to make "fish juice"! It also suggests the kit can be used to catch birds.
The rolled-up cloth kits were sealed in metal cylinders.
When unrolled, the kit fit over a life preserver like an apron, with a neck strap and two straps that can be tied around the waist.
The instructions provided both fishing and survival tips, including to try to catch small fish rather than large ones.
The weight, short wire leader and hook are all pre-rigged.
The mackerel jig is pre-rigged, too.
The feathers are missing from the jig head.
The pork rind baits are "bass size". It includes two baits from the Day Fish Bait Company in Port Huron, Michigan. I believe the company still exists today.
All extra hooks come with attached wire leaders that run through the wooden block to keep them from bending.
I didn't attempt to unfold the dip net, not knowing what condition it might be in.
While not mentioned in the instruction manual, the kit includes a weighted snagging hook.
It also includes a harpoon tip that could be attached to an oar. The harpoon tip may be for protection from sharks.
Finally, the manual includes tips on sharks, turtles, eels, snakes and whales, with the final instruction to "...keep using your head. Many other men have saved their lives by doing just that."