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Keeping log of fishing helpful for future trips

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POSTED June 10, 2010 2:27 a.m.
With the tremendous snowpack we got last winter, most Sierra Nevada streams are still running high and roily with snowmelt.

I figure it will still be another couple weeks before my favorite streams are low enough to fish safely. Heck, one day last week I was reading a local paper and realized that there were stories about four drowning deaths of fishermen or rafters on that one day!  

Sure, you might be able to get a line wet in the next few weeks, but is it worth dying for?  As the watch sergeant on “Hill Street Blues” used to say, “Let’s be careful out there”.

Since I’m not going fishing this weekend, I did the next best thing — I drug out my old fishing logs and began to relive fishing trips from years past.

Actually, reliving old fishing trips is only one of many great reasons to keep your own fishing log. Recording stream conditions, weather patterns, and flies, lures, baits and techniques used can help improve your fishing.

Jotting down unusual wildlife you spot, or interesting rock and mineral formations, notes on mining ruins, or Indian artifacts can help increase your enjoyment of your outdoor excursions.

If business ever gets really, really, bad I can always go back to that molybdenum deposit I found in the Stanislaus National Forest and stake out a mining claim. (I digress, back to fishing logs).

A ritual I observe every New Years Day is to go through the previous year’s fishing log and tally up the years fishing results.

I count all the days I fished, how many fish I caught, how many I released, my average catch per day, what species were caught, how many different streams I’ve fished , etc.

Sometimes it’s troublesome to write all the base information down, but it really pays good dividends over the long haul.

I used to be especially proud of how many fish I caught, but as years went by I was more concerned with how big the fish were, and eventually I became more concerned with how many weird species I could catch and identify.

1973 was a banner year for total number of fish when I caught 824 trout in 29 days on the water for an average of 28.41 fish per day. I released 67 percent and kept 33 percent.

Ten years later in 1983, I only fished a total of 14 days, but the size of the fish was much larger and I was releasing 81 percent of my fish unharmed.

Now, I find that I’m placing more emphasis on interesting events that occur astream, like the time I floated sideways down the creek in my car, or the thunderstorm that terrified my dog so that I had to carry her under one arm while I tried to fish one handed.

In September of 1976 I caught two fish at once, a Smallmouth Bass on my top fly, and a Rainbow Trout on my bottom fly!

I heartily recommend that you keep an angling log to record your fishing progress as well as to preserve the memories that you’ll savor so much in later years.

As you read your old fishing logs, you’ll relive those great days when everything went perfect, and laugh at those days when you couldn’t do anything right.

I remember telling a novice angler to watch his step on the slippery rocks just seconds before I slipped and fell into the water with a great splash.

The images of angling buddies long since passed on will come to mind and you’ll smile at their memory.

You may even get a tear in your eye when you remember fishing with a cop who was once a young buck in the prime of life but who can’t walk at all now because a junkie stabbed him in the spine.   

You can become a better angler by studying your old logs to find out what techniques work under certain conditions. When you face similar conditions again, you’ll have a head start.

I record water temperature, air temperature, altitude, water clarity, cloud cover, precipitation, which flies I used, and which caught fish. I have designed my own pre-printed form and included sections for fish caught (by species), line and leader used, starting and ending time and then a big section for general notes.

I try to always try to take a long lunch break on the stream, not only to eat, but to make log entries, and sometimes even just take a nap on a sunny sand bar. I’ve never taken my blood pressure while I’m fishing, but I’d be willing to bet it drops substantially the minute I step into the stream.

Maybe you ought to try an angling log this year. It’s simple, free, usually improves your fishing, and sure as heck increases the enjoyment you get out of fishing. What the heck, give it a try!
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