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Journey Journal

With 2021 behind us many fishing folks reflect on the results of their outdoor adventures. Keeping a record of last season’s trips can help develop a map to future fishing guidelines.

The point is to memorialize details (good and not so good) of your trips with the goal being creating repeatable results. The things revealed for me are the predictability of weather and water conditions, lures used, species caught and even the best chance at that trophy fish.

This can be done simply or in great detail depending on your time and interest in record keeping. A daily planner or even a calendar are two possibilities. I do both.

  • Journal Jot Downs- Capturing a lot of data points and information makes for a great guideline to season after season of fishing fun or even the failures. The entries on my pages include:
  • Duh, the Date- knowing throughout the month what happens can be important. Weekday or weekend, the beginning of the spring or the end of fall?
  • Moon Phase – I’m a believer of the importance of the moon phases. The timing of the reproduction of fish (spawning) and their food is closely related to the moon phases. Heightened activity on the full and new moons are well documented on the pages of record books for fresh and saltwater species.

  • Surface Water Temperature- I carry a small pool type thermometer tethered to a piece of strong braided fishing line. Throughout the day I toss it over and make mental notes of the Fahrenheit readings. Feeding, spawning modes in the early portion of the year (pre-spawn, spawn, post-spawn) all give you clues as to the feeding frequency and location of different fish.
  • Wind Direction and Velocity – Some chuckle at the notion that the wind has anything to do with fish biting, others swear at it (kayaks and wind are not a good combination) or by it. Simply stated a north wind brings cold fronts and cooler temperatures, a south wind generally is accompanied by a warming trend.

  • Water color- Because most game fish are sight feeders the color of the water dictates the size, profile AND color of my baits for bass, crappie, bluegill and more. Ultra-clear water or muddy water both make for tougher lure choice. My basic rule of thumb in gin clear water I downsize my baits (fewer negative clues for the fish to spot) in murky to straight muddy water larger lures, rattles to add the audio and more easily spotted because of size.
  • Likely Lures – We all have our favorite baits, ultimately the fish decide. Becoming proficient with a few and knowing when to launch these IFO’s (Identified Flying Objects) is critical to consistent catches. I mark my lure choices, sizes and colors along with other information. Success or failure I note what I tried.

  • Down to the Details – Moving water, flat water, specific cover that I fished, shoreline composition, type of aquatic vegetation and more all make their way to my notes. Patterns emerge and become evident, more important repeatable. Another aspect for me is RETRIEVE SPPED, this is the most under looked, misunderstood and important aspect of BIG fish catches. Tough fishing, slooowww down. Under the correct conditions, warmer water (65-78 degrees), full moon and slightly stained water you can do it about any way you want. Anything else experiment until they tell you / show you what they want.

Seem like a lot of trouble? I believe record keeping leads to my consistently catching more than 1,00 fish a year and trophy catches from almost any location, any time of the year and under most conditions.

Take the time to journal your trips and you’ll reduce your search time and increase your catches.