The advantages of keeping a fishing log or diary

The Friendly Fishers at WFF might find my article on the benefits of keeping a fishing log or diary of interest. It comes complete with pictures and accounts of fishing in WA and an account of some extreme fly fishing on a chalk stream in southern England. You can find it at Enjoy!
I have every day of fishing I've been lucky enough to enjoy in the past 20+ years, save for the handful of years when I was too tied up with school to maintain it. It comprises about 5 handwritten notebooks from the earlier years and about a 300 page word document on my computer for the last 10 or so years. It is a great reference now, but I have some closely held secrets buried in there... It is a pain in the behind to maintain somedays, but it is one of my most prized possessions now.
I tried for a few years. Didn't work out. I hardly had time between tying flies, fishing, and work. No significance to the order. But it seemed like every time I went back armed with info from the previous years, conditions had changed, and a whole new entry was written. I mostly only keep photo journals now, and it induces the memory of of that particular day's fishing.

Kyle Smith

DBA BozoKlown406
Grocery lists, notes back in school, diaries and all that never really did much for me. But this year I have written down every fishing trip and fish caught, mostly because at the end of every year I always wonder how many times I went out and how many fish I caught. Back when I lived in NYC I could almost count my trips with fingers and toes. This year I've already been out 16 times averaging 2.06 fish per trip, and I have been skunked on 31% of those trips. I can't wait to calculate how many miles I drove when it's all said and done.

Old Man

Just an Old Man
The spot I fish in the winter time is 15 miles from my house. I have been there about ten times since the first of the year. Back and forth is 30 miles complete. So far 300 miles drove and only about 11 fish caught. Many more hits but only a few to hand. 8 browns two RB's and one big Whitefish.

Time spent fishing is under a hour each time. I'm not good for any more time out in the cold.

I can't be any more complete than that. And it's all in my head. Now if that was all I wasted gas on, it would be boring. After I fish I go up into the closed area and count the fish. Many, many fish between the dam and Pipe Organ FAS. The river I fish is the Beaverhead.

Maybe you would like me to name the flies. All caught on nymphs. A couple of Pink ones, names unknown and the rest on Black zebra Nymphs, below a SJW. If I want to catch Whitefish I would use a Red zebra nymph. I've never caught anything but Whitefish with that nymph.

This is my fishing log for this year so far.

David Dalan

69°19'15.35" N 18°44'22.74" E
Funny thing. I always said I never needed one. Boils down to two things...first, the conditions for catching don't seem to change much and second I figured I remembered the vast majority of my earned-on-the-river-event-location fish knowledge.

I recently learned I may have some small leaks when it comes to #2. I recently regaled a friend of mine with my struggles to fish a certain river at a certain time of the year. He listened, and the quietly pointed out that the last time I fished it with him (in my defense, 5 years ago) he recalled 3 Steelhead to hand on a 3 hour trip, during the very time of the year I was crying about.

Yes, I gently toot my own horn (not really), but I think maybe a log book or some kind of record keeping would help me focus. But I'll probably never know.

My point is that I would have thought a great day like that would have stuck in my mind. But, alas it did not. So I am forced to wonder what other useful, but less sexy details, may also have wandered down the drain pipe at the base of my brain.


Active Member
Sometimes I fill out the log...sometimes I don't. Seems a bit clinical, and I tend to fish a lot of the same waters with the same flies...with pretty good success. Frankly, I think it has a lot more to do with conditions rather than patterns, etc. there are so many variables we don't have a clue about that we're just fooling ourselves that we can dissect the moment.

The need to have constant input recorded into a diary reminds me of people who experience every special moment though the viewfinder of a camera...rather than enjoying the moment.

And every moment I get to experience out on the water is special...particularly the older I get.

What's that old hippy saying?......'BE HERE NOW'.
This will be year 8 of a fishing log for me. My log is nothing more than a spreadsheet that I have now uploaded into the google cloud. There is nothing fancy in my log: date, time, river, air temp, flow, fish landed and a comments field. There is another column that is legacy - fish landed by my son - now that he's off in college our fishing days are extremely limited. :-(

The flow data is the most valuable to me. Let's me know when it is safe to wade the rivers and streams I frequent. Patterns mentioned in my comments field help a bit too - I don't always put patterns in there.

I have been keeping a fishing journal for almost 25 years. I probably fly fish 90% of the time on Puget Sound. It has proven to be extremely valuable to consistantly have success for the saltwater fisheries. I have often been able to determine the best beaches for the various species as to time of year, optimum tides. time of chum fry outmigrations, patterns to use during various times of year, etc, etc. It has helped me unravel some of the mysteries of the saltwater fisheries which will never be truly understood in a fly fishers lifetime. It is an enjoyable journey and a fishing journal helps out immensely. It only takes 5 minutes or so to write down your thoughts, observations, fly patterns used, and summary of fish caught plus where.

Last year a fishing buddy and I had an incredible top water fishing day. I was mentioning to him last week that we will have to make sure to fish that same location this year near the same time. I though that it was the middle of June but after looking in my fishing journal it turned out to be May 30. So you know where I will be fishing the first part of June this year.

I cannot emphasize enough how helpful a saltwater fishing journal has been to determine when to fish various locations through the year along with tidal conditions.



Well-Known Member
I kept a fishing journal when I first started out fly fishing, but found that I remembered all the important details anyway. So I stopped. Then time passed. Lots of time. Now I CRS, and a lot of those details that I couldn't forget if I tried have somehow slipped down the drain pipe. A journal is a good idea if you plan on living and fishing for a long time.



Active Member
I kept a fishing journal when I first started out fly fishing, but found that I remembered all the important details anyway. So I stopped. Then time passed. Lots of time. Now I CRS, and a lot of those details that I couldn't forget if I tried have somehow slipped down the drain pipe. A journal is a good idea if you plan on living and fishing for a long time.

The best thing about drain pipes is that the bad stuff slips away too! And every day is a new day...full of discovery and new people that claim they're related to me.
When I was about 14 or 15 (Eisenhauer was president then), I started keeping a diary-like journal of every day of outdoor recreation: fishing, hunting, skiing, hiking, mountain climbing, etc. For the first few years it was hand-written. Then I bought a typewriter from my high school English teacher, and for many decades I'd type the entries on blank, perforated stationary paper in three-ring binders. On alternate pages, I mounted photos, memorable adds from outdoor magazines, licenses, etc. As a binder got too thick, I'd start another. It's up to seven now.

About twenty years ago, I went back to handwriting, usually in shorter entries. I told myself that they were just notes; that I'd get a printer for this computer and start writing them there. But I know that I never will. My family thinks that it's the greatest thing since Meriweather Lewis's journal, and should be published. But I know better. The prose is pedestrian, seldom striving for literary excellence. But as a lifetime reviver of my best memories, the journals are priceless to me.
I keep a journal. Mostly it is a fishing journal and I do find it helpful sometimes, but I also keep photos of my fishing trips and jot down other important things that happen in my life. I started doing it because I thought it would help my fishing, but mostly I have found it to be really enjoyable to go back and look at all the places I have gone.

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