When we talk fishing and about the tools of the trade, some of the things that come to mind are rods, reels, lures, bait and a long list of others. However, one of the best tools for fishing is probably not in your tackle box at all. That tool is information.
How you use information can mean a world of difference in whether or not a bad day of fishing is a terrible day of fishing. You can buy the best of rods and reels or that top of the line boat. It won’t make a difference if the fish aren’t there.
Every good, professional captain knows the best way to use information is in the form of a daily log. It doesn’t matter what state you live in, if you are an offshore angler, inshore, backwater or even a freshwater angler. Keeping a log will definitely make you a better angler. The more information you write in this log will make it easier to determine, in the future, where the best place to find and catch quality fish on any given day will be.
Now, the more you are on the water the more data you will collect, but you weekend warriors don’t have day after day to go searching for fish. You go fishing no matter what conditions Mother Nature has dealt.
You, especially, need to know where you are going before you launch the boat on Saturday morning. For you a log should be your diary. Amongst the obvious important information to jot down, like fishing locations, date and species caught, should be other data like barometer readings, water and air temperatures, wind speeds and directions, moon phases, bottom structure and tidal stages, just to name a few. Fish are creatures of habit and follow certain patterns, but even though you caught fish on a certain date doesn’t mean they will be there again on that day the following year. The conditions all need to be close to the same.
Now there are angler’s trip logs that you can buy in local marine stores, but I think you can custom make your own using a computer or just a notebook and tailor it to your needs.
I know that most people, after a long day of fishing and then cleaning the boat, don’t feel like coming home and writing down what they’ve learned on the water that day. Most might not even remember all the important details of the day’s trip. That’s why that log should be with you while you are out there on the water. Keep it dry in a zip-top bag and write the info as it comes to you. We all, well I should say most of us, take a sandwich or soda break at some time in the day. This is the perfect time to take 90 seconds to write down what’s going on. If nothing is going on, that is also good information. Log it anyway.
Weeding out bad spots is a good thing. Just remember, it doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to be thorough. Until I talk to you again, may your lines be tight and your drag washers stay hot.
Capt. Steve Henon fishes out of Marco Island and Goodland in Florida and can be reached at (410) 925-9908.