In fishing, like life, you get out of it what you put into it.  A careful study of past success on the water can lead to consistent success in the future.  However, it requires some effort on you part.  Keeping a fishing journal is a big part of that effort.

We all know that fish are creatures of habit.  During certain times of the year, and under certain weather conditions, they will do certain things.  They feed and move about in response to weather situations.

With the professionalism of angling in the past 20 years, we have learned that the person who knows what the fish are going to do is the one who catches them.  Good anglers keep records of fishing trips, what worked, when and why.  You can too.

The first step is to get a journal in which to record you activities.  This can be a file box or a book.  The book is simpler to handle and takes less space.  Either will work just fine as a fishing journal.

Next set up a system of questions needing answers for each trip on the water.  The questions can be things like date, time of day, day of the year, season, and type of fish pursued and/or caught.  Others might be weather conditions, location of the lake, water temperature, moon phases, etc.

In order to gain the most information, answer the same questions for each trip.  That way you can consistently examine each trip for comparisons and differences.  Look for patterns in fish behavior under the same conditions.

Here is one way to set up your journal.  Start at the top of each page with the date of the trip, time of day, and species pursued.  Then provide the name of the body of water and its location as well as the area you fished.  If you have a GPS, what were the coordinates of the location where you fished and where you found the most fish, largest fish, and whatever other information you find important for catching fish?  What is the elevation of the lake?  Was the water level rising or falling?

The next area might be what lures were used and how they were used.  Did you fish a crankbait over wood, or flip a lizard to the bank, etc.  What presentation caught the most fish, the biggest fish, or struck out.  Were the fish on points, rip rap, over wood, in main channels, or wherever?  At what depth did you find fish and were they in a feeding mood?  Were fish suspended, spawning, or what?

Then describe the water conditions.  Was structure present?  If so, what kind is it?  What kind of bottom was below the boat and how deep?  At what depth did you find fish?  Is the water clear, or stained?  What is the water temperature?  What is the moon phase?  What is the Ph of the water?

What were the weather conditions?  Was it cloudy or clear?  What was the barometer reading and was it rising or falling that day?  What was the air temperature?  What was the weather like the night before your fishing trip?  Did any fronts move through that night or during your fishing session?  Was it rainy, foggy, or clear?

Later when you have a season or two in your journal, you will be able to see patterns emerging.  You will be able to see what tackle, presentation, or pattern is most successful under what conditions and in what body of water.  Keep good, organized records and you will have very productive days on the water.


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