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I’ve come to the conclusion that in the world of sports nothing beats speed, in everything else its experience. Only one way to get experience in fishing, you have to get up and go. Once there you can lean on previous trips for an idea of “where to go and what to throw.” As you have more and more success that way you can capitalize on that and make that success repeatable is to do gather data in a few simple systems. One helpful way is to set up an electronic diary, create a spreadsheet that captures details about your kayaking catch. I note several key factors. On my list of notations are wind direction, water temperature, water color, current moon phase and the specific location I fish that day. I also track the number of fish caught, the baits used and any detail about the catch like the cover or depth from which the fish came. The value to this diary is the seasonal habits of most game fish are very predictable if couple in the weather and water conditions you have a gigantic advantage and minimize the time to find and catch fish under similar circumstances. Another plus is identifying your best months, fishing holes and bait choices.

A personal handwritten journal gives you the chance to note additional details and specifics about your day and results. I also track my mileage and expenses for tax purposes. A photo of your catch can also be affixed to a paper copy of your fishing journal. This copy almost becomes the bass fisherman’s bible. You get to build a library that will treasured by you and your family in later years. Photo evidence of your fish creates a memory and memorializes the significant catches.

Several years ago I made a decision to take my river research to the next level. After reading about a tagging program I looked into the idea of doing an independent study of my own. I contacted the Floy tag company in the northwest United States and ordered a tagging set for myself. The tags would have your name, phone number and a consecutive tag number printed on them. The tags themselves were approximately the size of a spaghetti noodle. In the kit came a tag applicator, a hollow aluminum tube that you loaded the tag into and then inserted at the base of the anterior dorsal fin of the bass and gave it a quarter turn to lock the tag into the flesh of the fish and firmly into the skeletal bone of the fish. I had great success with tag retention, the fish often, even three years later had no ill signs of health from the tag and gave me knowledge about habits, growth and other fishy factors. I pretreated the applicator with betadine, a type of iodine, so as to not create a bacterial infection on the fish. The details of the fish caught are transcribed into a pocket journal about the date, the length and weight of the fish, where it was caught and on what bait. The hope is that the fish will recaptured by someone else or you. *(check your local and state regulations as to the legality of tagging fish) I learned a lot over the years doing this. I tagged one fish on a river system and caught the fish two years later a mile and a half upstream from our initial meeting. I had a local angler call me with a tag number and he chose to eat the fish but I interviewed him and got some valuable information about the size of the fish and other details.

The best information I got came from a small section of river that I fished frequently. In one particular incident I caught a nice bass, in the four pound range. The fish in a river hole I frequently fished hit a Texas rigged plastic worm in the early summer of 1990. With many return trips to the same spot I catch that same fish five times in the next 18 months and each time on a “feel” type bait a plastic worm or a jig! While I caught hundreds of fish in that spot on spinnerbaits, buzzbaits and crankbaits that fish never hit anything but a slow moving, silent, soft plastic bait or jig. It grew steadily and was in great health. That fish taught me many lessons I still lean on today.
Computer programs, hard copy journals or tagging all have turned into great largemouth lessons for me.