Keeping a Fishing Log

Posted by MNAngler On April - 20 - 2010

Why keep a fishing log? Because it will help you catch more fish. And what angler doesn’t want that?

We humans learn by recognizing patterns. When we encounter a situation a more than once, we remember what works and what doesn’t and act accordingly. Experience is a valuable tool because people that have done something a lot will probably have encountered a situation before and know what to do if the situation occurs again. Fishing is no different.

But when we’re fishing, there are a lot of variables that affect where fish are and whether or not they bite. And even if you fish everyday, it’s nearly impossible to remember every variation of those variables.

That’s where a log comes in.

I started this blog as a kind of log for myself where I could record some of this information and remind myself where and how I caught fish. But you don’t have to start a blog. There are many other ways to keep a log.

You won’t be able to keep a log of all the variables that affect fish, but you can keep track of some of the key ones. After a few outings, patterns should eventually reveal themselves.

A log can be as simple as a spreadsheet, or as complicated as a full blown database. Either method allows you to sort and group by different variables so you can detect patterns. Thanks to today’s technology, you can even do it online. I like the online method because it keeps all my information centralized so I can enter or access my logs anywhere there is an Internet connection. The only problem with using an online service is that you are at the mercy of what the creator deems important. But it can still be very useful. I use FishSwami (review to be posted in the future).

Here are a few basic variables to keep track of:

  • Fish caught (species, length, weight)
  • Time caught
  • Where caught (including structure or cover in the area)
  • Lures/bait used – type, color
  • Retrieve speed and style

Don’t forget that sometimes logging where/how you didn’t catch fish is just as important as where/how you did:

  • Locations fished (including structure or cover)
  • Lures/bait used – type, color

As you get used logging this basic information, you can start noticing more advanced variables:

  • Coloration of the water
  • Hours of day fished
  • Weather conditions during fishing (sun/clouds, wind speed/direction, rain/snow)
  • Weather conditions earlier in the day
  • Air temp while fishing
  • Air temp earlier in the day
  • Water temp
  • Moon phase

This, of course, isn’t an exhaustive list, but it is a good start. It may seem like a lot of information, but once you have your log set up, it only takes a few minutes to enter the information from your trip.

If you doubt the effectiveness of keeping a log, read the story of Captain Mann. It will make you a believer.

3 Responses to “Keeping a Fishing Log”

  1. Mel says:

    Good post with helpful insight. Keeping and maintaining a log, data sheet, blog, or whatever an angler might use is a significant step in becoming a more consistent angler. Thanks again.

  2. […] entering fishing trips I had gone on during the year. Most of the variables I talked about in my previous post are included, and then some. The site was developed by a fly fisherman, so it has a severe fly […]

  3. Mike says:

    I couldn’t agree more with, “Don’t forget that sometimes logging where/how you didn’t catch fish is just as important as where/how you did”. It is just as important to eliminate water certain times of the year and during certain conditions.

    I think a lot of fishermen fall into the trap of going to the “secret spot” or “honey hole” all the time, just because they had one incredible trip. Then once it stops producing, some people will avoid the spot or forget about it. This is especially true for people who fish the same body of water over and over. The key is to know when a spot produces and when it doesn’t.

    I have started my own online fishing log and it is still early in its development. I really want input from people to help me shape the applications, because as the developer I am a little too close to the project at times. Sometimes I miss good ideas and what people would really find useful.

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