We are winding down to the end of the year; that is a time when folks like to pause and look back on the year that was, and look ahead to the new year to come. If you know me, you know I take my fishing seriously. In fact I take it so seriously that I have been keeping notes, or a log-book of all my fishing trips since I was about 10 years old. Yep, that is A LOT of log entries! I make it a point each year to review the season, summarize my time on the water and evaluate what I could have done better. Yes, I am a fisheries biologist by training and I love all the numbers and statistics; inside those numbers you can learn a lot about yourself and you can become a better angler.
I record dates, time fished, location, weather conditions, water conditions, fish caught, baits and presentations for every fishing trip. There are commercial log books or even computer programs you can use, but I developed my own format years ago and I continue to use that. I guess you know you are getting old when you can review old log entries and see trips that you cannot recall–the only recollection I have of some of those trips years ago is what I wrote down in my fishing notes. I try to include as many details as possible because you never know when being able to recall some little detail will help in figuring out how to catch more fish.
At the end of the year I like to summarize the numbers and species of fish that were caught, baits they were caught on, locations where they were caught, depths fished, weather influences and more. That is a great way to identify hot waters where you should spend even more time in the coming year. Likewise you can identify hot baits. You can also see where perhaps more fish could have been caught or different baits and presentations could have been tried. I believe being versatile is very important in consistently catching fish. Each year I pay special attention to the number of different species of fish that were caught and the number of different baits and presentations that were used to catch fish. I always can see there are new things to try, new waters to fish and perhaps new species to catch. I also can see where being versatile has resulted in more and bigger fish over the years–more and bigger than I ever dreamt possible.
Do not neglect to log unsuccessful trips! Sometimes you can learn as much from trips where you did not catch any fish as you can from trips where they were jumping in the boat. Yes, it is painful to go back at the end of the year and review those unsuccessful trips, but many times failure is the best teacher.
I could bore you with more details but you get the idea. I am not saying that everybody should keep a log-book of their fishing trips like I do, but I am saying that it can help you become a better angler. If you choose to keep a fishing log, it is not important that you do it exactly like I do, make something that will work for you and “Get-R-Done”. It only takes a few minutes after every trip to jot down the details while they are still fresh in your mind. At the very least there will be great sentimental value to being able to go back and reminisce about past trips; at the most there will be some nuggets there that will help you catch more and bigger fish!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!