Over the years I’ve intermittently kept a fishing journal. It hasn’t been a great success. I’ve never been faithful. Over the past few years I’ve resorted to Facebook and Google Photos as a sort of de facto journaling system. Geotagged photos from my phone have been great to help me remember previous fishing spots and on my latest Wisconsin Driftless adventure I resorted to geotagged photos on more than one occasion to remember which stream I was thinking of from my previous trips. Memory is so fallible and those meadow streams sort of blend together after a year’s absence.
Facebook plays an interesting role too. I’ve had my Facebook Memories remind me that a certain hatch may be happening on a certain stream just now. Or maybe just remind me of a place I haven’t visited in a while that may be worth revisiting. This passive and haphazard system is far from perfect but not totally useless.
But recently, when picking up a notebook to write a shopping list I found one of my abandoned fishing journals. It was not extensive, but it did capture each day of a spectacular trip I’d had in Wisconsin a few years back. Paging through this notebook was absorbing and engaging in a way that my Google Photos/Facebook system is not. And it did remind me of some places that I needed to revisit.
However it did not give me any sense of the daily, monthly or yearly changes on any of the fisheries that it mentioned. The real wisdom and experience of a journal was not there. It was interesting but not really what a journal could be.
Recently there’s been a development in my life that and I’m hoping bring back my journaling and finally have the resolve to keep it going. I now have a second base of operations minutes from some of my favorite trout water in Pennsylvania. I can’t tell you how excited I am for that. And one big reason for that excitement is to finally be able to watch a particular piece of water over the course of the year and hopefully fill in some gaps in my fishing knowledge.
I think that’s what has always stymied my efforts in the past. Living about 3 hrs from my favorite trout streams, I’ve never been able to fish them often and consistently enough to get real sense of the flow of time. I’d get intermittent snapshots. And journaling those snapshots never formed a very complete story of the seasonality of the streams and the variability with weather, etc. I know one of the biggest gaps in my angling is that knowledge of trends in fish behavior, location, feeding habits, etc. over the course of the year.
What Should I Keep Track Of?
Here’s what I’m thinking:
- Time of day
- Weather conditions
- Water Conditions, temp, general description of turbidity and flow (perhaps I can find a USGS gauge for reference…)
- Noticeable bug activity.
- Observable fish behavior; feeding behavior and holding locations, etc.
- Successful/unsuccessful fly patterns
- Successful/unsuccessful techniques and rigging
What About You?
Do you keep a fishing journal? If so what types of things do you keep track of? Is it a data driven notebook or more of an anecdotal journal?
Has your angling journal enriched your fishing and helped you grow as an angler?
Part of why I’m writing this article is to have some accountability. I figured if I wrote this and put it out into the public it might motivate me to stick with it. Another reason for this article is that I’m hoping to hear that some of you have actually been able to do it – and thus also be motivated by your success.
So please leave some comments on your journaling experiences. Thanks!
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