Keeping a Fishing Journal

Posted on July 11, 192001 at 16:47:17:

Keeping a Fishing Journal

Few of us are able to recall the details that may have made a particular trip memorable several years ago. In addition, if your anything like me, the details have a tendency to blend together with those of other trips furthering your confusion. As time passes fish become larger and trips of the past always produced more fish than trips of the present. Yes, those were the good old days back when you could catch seventy five stripers a day and fifteen of them would be over thirty six inches in length. Or how about that time when you caught a dozen browns on dry flies and all but three were over fifteen inches. Do you remember what you were using? How about the water temperature? What was hatching? These variables might prove useful in the future. Start to write them down.

A fishing journal may take several forms. Commercially purchased journals or fishing logbooks are one form. In some cases you may choose to use a completely 'open ended' style of journal which may be nothing more than a notebook. And finally you may choose to make your own journal. I have used all three types and will discuss the merits of each.

Commercially purchased journals allow the angler to enter data in specified fields. Many of these journals provide space for a sketch or additional comments. This is a great way to get started. The specified fields will prompt you to enter those variables that are likely to affect the fishing. Such variables may include: cloud cover, precipitation, air temp. water temp., barometric pressure, the phase of the moon, etc. It is not necessary to fill in all fields only those that you think are important. In addition a good commercially purchased fly fishing journal will include space for hatch information and fly selection. Most of these journals include some sort of appendix section with useful information on insect identification, leader tippet and fly size tables, and a wealth of other reference material.

At the other end of the spectrum is the 'open ended' journal. I like to think of this as the 'naturalist's journal.' This journal can be whatever you want it to be. You are not restricted to entering information into specified fields. My only suggestion is to get one that will survive the elements if you choose to go this route. I do not use this type of journal for fishing but prefer it for hunting. I get mine from the local art store. It is basically a hardbound sketchbook. They come in a variety of sizes and are tough. The paper is great for writing as well as drawing. The only obvious disadvantage to taking the 'open ended' approach is that you may leave out some important variables because you are not prompted to enter it.

You can always make your own journal. I find myself doing this for specialized fishing. Most of the commercially purchased journals do not include the fields that I think are important for fishing in the saltwater. I created my own journal that best fits my needs. It contains fields for needed information as well as an open-ended section for sketches and additional information . Making your own journal pages can be easy if you have access to a computer and printer. This can provide you with the best of both worlds.

Your journal will provide you with an abundance of useful fishing information that you can rely on from year to year. Don't let your journal be chock full of analytical data and nothing else. This makes for very boring reading. Instead take the time to mention the people you fish with and all of the other things that make each trip to the water unique and worthy of return. The best reason for keeping a journal is to go back and relive the great angling moments of the past.

Gary Scavette is a registered Maine Guide, USCG licensed captain, and the founder of Northeast Anglers Inc. You may contact him with questions or comments at 1-800-558-7658 or

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