Monday, May 28, 2012

Fish Diary

An anglers Journal

Why do many anglers keep a journal or diary?  Let me give you a clue about why I keep a logbook from my fishing adventures and no it’s not to keep stats on my bragging rights. That’s what my Digital Camera and Camcorder is for. 

Most serious and old school anglers have a notebook or journal in one shape or another, where they keep a diary of their catches. More and more probably use apps for this, but I’m old school and yet have to be converted into this. Maybe if I made my own I would be able to get used to this, but I yet have to find one with all the stats I want in my diary in one app. Also I don’t like the risk of losing my diary if I should lose my phone; have to deal with transferring it to a new phone if I were to change it. Maybe coz I’m a bit too old school and I still see my cell phone as a tool to call people, sure texting can be handy as long it’s not conversations people try to keep with me. Maybe coz I suck at texting, takes me forever to type in a message and specially on those new touch screens. It’s very handy that it got a clock and alarm, I have to give it that but the million other features my phone have, I totally ignore and don’t even bother to try and learn – Ignorance is bliss!?

Anyway back on track, writing an old fashion diary got its benefits if I have to say it and I have to. At least it’s my blog so if I’m not gonna say it who else?  I can easy backtrack in my notes, writing everything down also stores it better in my mental memory bank. So often I don’t have to look in my diary, even though I end up doing it anyway just to be sure that I did remember correct. I’m the kind of guy who like to be right, I’m not opinionated or anything like that. I try to stick to facts.

Now that I mention facts – let’s look at facts and rules for catching fish, well I guess the main fact and rule #1 would be. There are no facts and rules to catching fish, there are a million guidelines, good advice, old sayings and an odd thumb of rule for every old-timer out there. But no sure way to catch fish, you can download charts, set after the moon calendar telling you today will be a bad day for fishing. You end up going fishing anyway, turning out to be a good day for you. Or it’s the other way around, chart said good fishing and no one caught anything. And what have this to do with a fishing diary? Well if you take note after more than the moon, and take note on the many factors in play. You will be able to get a better idea about what will worked for you under different conditions, from previous experiences you made on your other trips to the water. You can improve your future trips to the same or similar waters!

One of the main keys are being able to locate the fish, some use fish finders and that’s fine for big lakes and open ocean. But personally I’m a freshwater angler, I fish carp, trout and pike the most and from the shore. So skills are needed to figure out where to fish from or you will be spending a full day, without as much as a single strike on a poor day. You can toss out all the best lures or expensive baits you want, if the fish aren’t there they will not be able to take it.
Handy and very basic old school tools are a thermometer and an aneroid barometer. With those and common knowledge about fish locating, you can factor a lot of important information that will help your fishing. Many also use a moon calendar, but that will in my experience not help much on how or where to fish. Were most other things you can read out of the water and surroundings, can help guide you to where to fish, how deep and if a fast or slow moving lures will work best? The moon chart will tell you if the day is supposed to be good or bad fishing, but it lags a lot and not much use for a skilled angler who reads the water.

Temperature, atmospheric/barometric pressure and wind direction is some of the most important elements, these can help you determent where the fish will be located. You can read a lot about barometric pressure on many sites, where anglers ponder about how much effect this have on fish and fishing. To give you a straight answer, it does affect the fish but it differs from species to species, how deep the water is and how much the pressure changes. It has been studied by many very clever people, over many decades so there are plenty of real facts on the effect it has on fish. Shallow water fish are much more effected then deep water fish; some species can easier adjust the pressure in their swim bladder and be less affected by rising/dropping pressure. The size of the water body is also a key in this, so a small pond is affected faster than the sea.

If the fish is able to adjust the depth to make up for the pressure, they will do that and the fish will be located according to the pressure and you fish after it there. But temperature also affects where the fish will be, so if the temperature of the water is too hot, the fish will likely swim deep to cool even if the pressure will give it discomfort. In that case, they are less likely to bite making it harder to catch. Again no rule without exceptions, territorial species will often strike a lure invading its territory. In that case you are more likely to get a strike and catch, on an imitating lure then on flavor/bait. So depending on the weather you should maybe change location and fish after a different species then you usual target.

Wind direction/water movement will help you know where the fish are likely to be hunting, as the fish will be following the natural movement of their pray. About wind, there is an old saying that “wind from southeast – fish will bite the least.” It might be true; maybe it’s depending on where you are located in the world. Might be horrible fishing, under these conditions at the west coast in the states, but the perfect condition on the east cost of New Zealand. To be honest I have no clue about this, I personally don’t take notes on wind direction like that. Only to see where the fish are likely to feed in the lake, also as a freshwater angler, tides are not a concern of mine either. Are you a saltwater angler, this is important to take notes on.

I mainly take notes on Air/Water Temp, Air Pressure, Time of the catch, Depth, Bait or Lure type and it’s Color/Flavor, Species, Weight and location.

When you have done this a few seasons you will be able to see a pattern in what colors and lure types, work the best for you in what season and under what conditions. Again it’s a guideline as mentioned in the beginning, but it will help the beginner to learn a lot and improve his/her fishing. For the less novice and serious anglers this is simply a fun activity, geeky stuff to add to this great hobby, something that you might still learn from. The avid anglers, well some grow out of it. Others just keep on keeping journals still after 20+ years, some journals are passed on to younger generations. I remember a good friend I grew up with, in our teenage years he got his grandfather’s fishing journal and we took it with us on a weekend trip to his Grandparents cabin. A place we had visited more than a few times as kids, fishing a private stretch of creek near buy. We had fished this creek many times before, a great place for browns, rainbow trout and eel. But we never had cached before like we did that summer, with a note book with drawings and notes on every curve and every deep hole in the water. Showing where the fish would likely stand ready to strike when pray passed them in the current; it was a gold mine of information for two young anglers eager to learn.

I can only recommend getting started on your own personal journal, no matter what skill level you are at if you haven’t been keeping a fish diary get started!

This is my current Diary, hand bound leather with a casted metal fish logo. Got it on a market from a traveling Englishman. 

Hope you will enjoy making your own fish diary and learn even more from your many future experiences.

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