Keeping a Detailed Fishing Journal

I’ve long been a proponent of keeping notes.

When I was fishing only recreationally, I kept detailed notes about every fishing trip, and every statistic and category I could think of. Weather conditions, water temperatures, wind direction, areas fished, etc. One thing that I found vitally important was keeping a log of the techniques that worked, but more importantly, the techniques that did not. Some times, when the fishing is really good, we get caught up in catching as many fish as we can. This is the time that I would experiment, trying every seemingly hair-brained idea I could think of.

Now that I’m a full time fishing guide, with two busy fishing guide businesses, keeping notes is even more important. For Traverse City Bass, I keep the traditional log that I did before. Now, I include other variables like how many customers I had, what their fishing abilities and preferences were, or even how we lost fish. This helps me to track if I need to alter techniques, or use a different approach.

For my salmon trips with Manistee River Salmon, I track the current weather patterns, to help understand what the salmon and steelhead are doing from day to day. I keep careful notes on certain techniques that are effective on a daily basis on the river, certain colors, etc. When we fish with cured salmon spawn, it’s extremely important to keep notes. We use several different egg cures on hand, because the salmon or steelhead bite can be particular on any given day, preferring one cure over another or even variations of color. Keeping notes during the trip allows me to track which cure or color works given certain conditions. It’s common to try a couple of different cures at the same time with my customers, helping to decipher which one will be more effective. This speeds the learning curve, and hopefully allows us to have a more successful day on the water.

Keeping notes takes a little extra time, but the benefits are tremendous. It’s definitely freed up my memory to dwell on other things, and during a long Michigan winter, it’s nice to flip back through my log books and read notes from the good old fishing days!

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