How To Use A Fishing Journal To Catch More Fish
Keeping a fishing journal is one of the best ways to figure out what works and what doesn't. Learn what you need to write down to catch more fish here.

How To Use a Fishing Journal To Catch More Fish

Fishing is great because of the mystery. You never know when the fish of a lifetime might take your carefully placed lure, and it’s that not knowing that keeps us going back for more.

But when the fish aren’t biting, that mystery quickly turns to frustration. Is the depth wrong? Do they want a different color? Did I get on the water too late? There are a million variables and sorting them all out often feels like it comes down to intuition, but it doesn’t have to. Keeping a fishing journal can help you keep track of the things that actually catch fish and the things that don’t.

What To Write In A Fishing Journal

I keep a (fairly) meticulous journal whenever I go out fishing. I like to know what I’m using, where I’m using it, and what the conditions are that call for it. Whether I catch a fish or not, all that information is valuable. When I go out, here are the things I note before I even toss a line out:

  • Location

  • Weather conditions: Overcast vs. sunny, air temperature

  • Date (to keep track of seasonal influences)

  • Water temperature

  • Water conditions (cloudy vs clear water)

These are important to get a base-level idea of what the fish might prefer. Hopefully, at this point, you have an idea of the lures or baits you want to use, but keeping more notes will help you narrow down exactly what they want at what time. From here, take some more notes about lures and baits. Here are the things I keep track of.

  • Lure type (jig, spinner, swimbait, etc.)

  • Lure color

  • Lure depth

  • Retrieve speed (for spinners and swimbaits)

  • Bait type/scents

These variables should be noted with a tally of the number of bites and/or species of fish landed. You don’t have to get crazy specific, and you don't have to keep track of everything listed here. But remember that the more info you have, the more you'll thank yourself later.

How To Organize A Fishing Journal

When it comes to organization, that part is up to you! But using grid lined waterproof field notebook (like the Rite in the Rain 946) can be a huge help.

With the gridlines, you can create a few tables for comparing different lure colors, times of day, or different locations. I like to set up one table for each location, then label the left side with the time of day (usually one row for each hour). I’ll leave a little extra room at the top and sides for taking notes about conditions, and then I’ll add any gear changes I’ve made to the top row as columns.

This way when I start catching fish, I can tell exactly where I was, when it happened, what the conditions were, and what I caught it on. This makes it easy to look back at old notes and figure out what worked best.

With all of this data, you can look back at old journals and know exactly what to use for different conditions. That doesn’t mean the color you used last year on an overcast day will always work perfectly, but it’ll give you a much better idea of what should work, and that will lead to more hookups and more big fish in the long run. Keep taking notes, and tight lines!

Author: Brady Fraser. Brady writes about fishing and the outdoors on his website, The Wild Provides.