Fishing Journal Tips

Fishing is supposed to be fun and relaxing. Keeping a fishing journal should not get in the way of that fishing fun. So for those wondering the easiest way to record your fishing trips to enter into the Pro Fishing Log, this page offers some helpful basic fishing journal tips. Use it as a starting point and adjust it to a style that suits your fishing as needed. This is what I use and this is what I do.

First of all, keep it simple. One of the quickest ways to frustrate yourself enough to stop you from keeping a fishing journal is for it to get in the way of your actual fishing. If you get to a fishing spot and you mess around writing things down for more than a minute or so, you will grow tired of keeping a fishing journal. That I can guarantee you.

My tools are simple. I use a pencil with an eraser, small notebook and a basic electronic aquarium thermometer. I bought a digital LED thermometer that has a fairly long cord with a probe on the end from a pet shop for under $10. I have abused that thing for 3 years now, including leaving it on for weeks, and it is still going. If you have a depthfinder, most come with a water temperature gauge built in, so you won't need a thermometer. But if you also shore fish, it might be a good idea to get one. Sometimes I also print out a lake map, especially if I am new to the lake and the fishing spots are not familiar or established with me. All of these things are kept in a zip lock gallon sized baggie to keep them water proof until I am ready to record my fishing journal data. I am currently working on a fishing log worksheet that you can print out that is simple and geared towards being able to quickly record fishing journal data.

When I get to a fishing spot, to start my fishing journal entry I write down the start time and whatever I have named the location. I sometimes will use my phone to mark it on a map as well, enter the same name of the fishing spot that I wrote down in the fishing journal. You could also do the same without a smart phone using a printed out map where you can mark and label the fishing spot. If I never fished the location before, sometimes I will just use letters to label the fishing spots and name them later. You never know what is going to happen that first time you fish a spot that might be memorable enough to use in the name. If you hooked a snappy turtle, it might become “Snapping Turtle Point” to you. I should also point out that at some point I will also place the thermometer probe in the water, because it can take a few minutes to get the proper water temperature.

Once I catch a fish, the first thing I will do, if I haven't already, is start a species list by writing down the fish species name in my fishing journal entry under the location name. After that, I will record the fish details such as time caught, weight, length and girth, writing them down in my fishing log entry. Then the last thing I do is take a couple of photos before releasing the fish. You may want to get the picture first, as the fish's color can fade with the stress of being out of the water. I do it last because it gives the fish a chance to calm down. If I don't want the fish's vitals, I will just add a tick mark underneath where I started the species list, or write down the species and a tick mark if I haven't started a list for that species yet. Normally I will also write the time I caught the fish next to the ticks while leaving room for more tick marks. I do this after returning the fish to the water (I am a catch and release guy). This works well when the action is fast, like spawning bluegills, where you want to get your line back in the water ASAP. In those cases, all I am entering in the fishing journal is a tick mark, unless I catch a big fish that is worth noting the fish vitals/details.

When you are done fishing the spot, hopefully at some point you will have checked the temperature reading of the thermometer and written it down. If not, I do it now. Then the last thing you need to do is write down the time you stopped fishing the spot in your fishing journal entry. Once I get to the next fishing spot, I start a new page or at least seperate my new location from the previous one by writing the name of the new fishing spot down with a little space in between.

In the PFX Fishing Log app, you can also record other conditions I haven't mentioned. Most of these deal with weather conditions at the location and during the time you fished and other things like water temperature and water clarity. Depending on where you live in the world, you should be able to find a weather website where you can get hourly weather details of a nearby weather station. Don't worry about this fishing data on the water, you can get it from a website when you are home entering the log in your fishing journal. In the US, a good historical weather website to use for this is That is the website I use. Just follow the link and type in the zipcode of the body of water you fished. Then you should find a section labeled 'History & Almanac' under the current conditions on the left side.

If you can't find a good website, but you have a smartphone, you may be able to find a free or cheap fishing log application. Many of these will get the current weather data from the nearest weather station when you start logging your trip in the app.

Be prepared! Have all of this stuff ready and accessible before you get to your spot!

Last, but not least. Be patient and stick with it. Fishing journals require gaining a lot of data over many seasons to really be affective. Don't give up. Even though the more seasons of fishing log data you have, the more helpful it will be, you will have valuable information to draw on one season after starting your fishing log. Plus, keeping good notes and detailed data in your fishing journal will help you remember things you may have forgotten. The next season you can start thinking about identifying patterns and then being able to test your fishing pattern theories. You may go out and back up your theory or find you need fish more testing your ideas and enter more fishing journal data to fine tune and identify a solid pattern. That is just after one year. And from there you can fine tune your ideas about daily and seasonal patterns and in years to come, with enough fishing log data, have the fishing patterns identified to the point you rarely get skunked.

There are even ways to help increase your fishing data pool to make the fishing journal more effective sooner. The best way is to get your fishing friends to join and add them as partners, as well as find and make fishing friends on the website and turn them into fishing partners. Obviously you should be careful and only add fishing partners you trust. Doing this you might get enough data about a body of water and locations in a couple years that would have taken a decade or more on your own.

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