By CAPT. C.A. RICHARDSON
Experience is fishing’s greatest teacher, all that being said… recording your experiences will help you become a much better angler in due time. Drawing on years of tournament fishing know-how, I’ve learned what techniques work in varied scenarios such as… cold water, windy conditions, dealing with turbid water challenges, high barometric pressure, and the list goes on and on. Because I keep a journal of all these encounters, good and bad; it allows me to catch tomorrow’s fish with greater ease!
The first concept you have to accept when starting a fishing journal is to log your failures as well as your, let’s say, more spectacular outings. In baseball a good batting average is around .300, relatively speaking, in fishing you’ll find a similar average most of the time. Sure you’ll have back-to-back outings during major runs when you are slaying the fish without much effort. But when you start factoring in those trips with tougher weather conditions or when you’re exploring new water it all averages out. Fortunately you will learn much more from your failures rather than your victories, here’s why… first, you’ll have twice as many of those lackluster experiences to record, funny but true. And second, when the fish aren’t coming over the side every ten minutes you’re more apt to be paying attention to details like retrieve tempo, water temperature, bottom features, bait activity, etc. Whereas when you are on a “do no wrong” catching excursion and taking plenty of “grip n’ grin” photos… you tend to lose some of the details within the trip.
I find that a standard composition notebook is the perfect logbook with a few tabs for your favorite locales for easy reference. There are also few software products on the market for keeping fishing logs on your computer as well as websites like inshorefishingjournal.com for the techy angler!
Below are criteria that I choose to keep in my journal:
Date, Location, GPS coordinates, Water temperature, Tide info (height & time), Moon phase, Solunar times (major/minor), Wind (direction/velocity), Weather (general description), Barometric pressure, Water clarity, Bottom features, Depth, Lure/Bait selection (profile/color), Equipment used (rod/reel, line, leader), Fish caught, and maybe even a sketch when applicable. Also, it helps me to use both a satellite chart and/or Google Earth in conjunction with my journal to get a better understanding of the area or to help develop a pattern.
A few website suggestions to use for weather and tide info are protides.com, whattideisit.com, and windfinder.com.
In most instances, it’s truly impossible to remember every aspect about each fishing trip without keeping a log or journal. Hopefully by recording regularly it will keep you from repeating the same old mistakes and your batting average (number of fish caught) in time will go up!