By The Lazy Kayaker
When I first started fishing in the Charleston area most of my trips were a last minute decision with little planning, packing the standard tackle, cast nets, plastic grubs, rain jacket, something to drink, and a sandwich. I only needed to know what the tide was to ensure there was enough water to launch the boat. This was easy and lazy and I wasn’t very successful at catching, but fishing was great!
Once I started attending fishing clinics and seminars put on by the local fishing clubs and tackle shops that all changed. Leading these seminars were local charter captains and they taught me everything I needed to know to become a successful fisherman besides the passion of course. Chartered trips with experienced captains were incredibly helpful too. Although my fishing technique did improve, I was still inconsistent with my catch.
Despite this improvement, fishing for me was still a guessing game; never sure of where to go or what was biting that week. To help me with this dilemma, I started reading weekly fishing reports, which did help, but I knew something was still missing. Frustrated, I decided to attend a clinic given by Mike Able at Haddrell’s Point & Tackle in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. Mike pointed out that the charter captains do this for a living. They are on the water so often that they’ve not only learned how to observe changes in the fish patterns, but they also keep tabs on what the “hot bait” is for the week. As easy as it sounded, if you are not on the water every day, it’s very hard and nearly impossible, to keep up with the weekly and monthly fishing patterns. But, my “aha” moment was when the clinic showed me how fishing patterns repeat themselves year after year; so, perhaps, it was suggested, it might be helpful to keep a log book.
Heeding this advice, I started keeping a detailed fishing log book about five years ago and, without a doubt, it has made all the difference in the world. I started with logging the tide and location, but since then, I’ve gone on to add other needed details.
Details that I started keeping in my log book included: recorded the tide times (incoming and outgoing); time of day; water clarity; exact location (sometimes I would even include copies of a printed out map); the bait used (was it live bait or plastic bait, the type, color, and size); the size of the jig head, hooks used, and floats; water temperature; barometer readings; wind speed and direction; and phase of the moon. With tracking this data in my logbook, I have also come to realize that the barometer readings along with the moon phase are very important details and can influence your fishing drastically. A steady barometer reading typically means better fishing as fish can sense the changes in barometric pressure. This detailed little log book solved my problems and, oh yes, I caught fish and still am today!
While the logbook does take some extra time to enter this information after each fishing trip, my fishing success has proven worth it as, years later, I am still using the same logbooks to look back and see the same pattern over and over again, and when the time is right I go catch fish!