Mike Baskett, 2008 Bassmaster Classic qualifier from the Federation Nation, started keeping fishing records early. He was only 14-years-old — that was 20 years ago — when he read an article in Bassmaster Magazine about the importance of keeping good fishing records. He took the advice to heart.
"At the time, I was fishing a five-acre pond near my grandparent's home. I made a sketch of the water, overlaid a grid on it, and marked where I caught every fish. I recorded the weather, the time of day and the baits I used. The only thing I didn't do was record water temperature. I didn't have anything to measure it with at the time," he says.
"That article made a big difference in my fishing. Making a sketch and recording all that information forced me to think about how and why I caught fish. I started off on the right foot, and it made me a better fisherman over time."
Fishing logs or journals are personal. As such, each one will contain different information depending upon the angler's style, technique, wants and needs. Still, some information is basic and should always be recorded:
1. Date and time. Record the date of your trip and the time(s) of your catch.
2. Place of catch. Make sure you detail exactly where you caught the fish. Besides location make sure you include such things as water depth and surrounding cover and structure.
3. Water conditions. Include detailed information on water temperature — is it going up or down — as well as clarity and current flow.
4. Prevailing weather pattern. Is a front approaching; is it overhead; or is it leaving? Is it sunny or cloudy? Is it raining or dry? What about the wind?
5. Barometric pressure. Include not only the current pressure but also its direction of movement. And you may want to include the normal pressure reading for your area. (Normal pressure is different from one locale to another and from season to season. Many anglers think deviation from normal is more important than absolute value.)
6. Moon Phase. Some anglers consider this critical to their success. Others think it doesn't matter. Use your own judgment.
7. Baits. Include running depth, size, color and any modifications you made to the lure.
8. Tackle. Your rod and reel are important but don't forget to record the details about your fishing line. Test weight, physical size, type and color are all important.
9. No bites. That's right — keep track of what doesn't work! Sometimes that's as important as what does.
How you record this information is also personal. Some anglers like commercially available computer software, some use spiral notebooks and still others prefer tape recorders. Quite a few anglers use the Fisherman's Log available on Bassmaster.com and BASS Insider. It will make your record keeping easier and, if you're an Insider, allow you to see what others are doing to catch bass.
"Every angler who's just getting started, fishes different waters or wants to catch more bass should keep a log of some sort," Baskett concludes.
That covers all of us, doesn't it?