Keeping A Fishing Log

By Bill Schultz - June 1, 2001
Athletes in many sports keep a log of their training activity and performances in games or tournaments. They use this information to develop better techniques, make better use of their time while training, and to perform better in competition. Many serious anglers find the same benefits from keeping a fishing log.

Fishing has become a more important part of my activities during the past ten years. To enhance my efforts and have a record of those efforts, I've kept a log of my activity. Recently, I became curious about the logs that other fishermen and women keep. How do they keep their log? What type of information do they keep? How do they use this information? Also, I think it's beneficial to look at how the average fisherman can benefit from keeping a log.

To help me with these questions I talked with Chad Cain, a top Wisconsin/Illinois musky guide; Duane Witzlib, a local tournament angler; Mike Miller, past-president of the Okauchee Fishing Club and tournament angler; JoAnn Kuharske, Okauchee Fishing Club board member and avid angler; and Leroy Johnson, a local angler who's been fishing long than most of us have been around.

All of those I spoke with keep what I would consider detailed logs. Cain notes, "I do two types of fishing logs, both on computer. One is a daily journal in paragraph form and the other is more of a database where I keep track of muskies caught in my boat by either clients or myself."

Like Cain, I also keep my log on my computer, while the others keep a handwritten log in notebook, or, in the case of Witzlib, on forms he has developed specifically for the information he keeps. On his form he records the date, his fishing partner, lake, time fished, water clarity, boat traffic, weather conditions, water temperature and for each fish caught, its length, time caught, area of lake and lure used.

Witzlib says, "Records allow me to go back and research a particular lake during a certain season. You can also check what lures worked, what lures didn't, and what areas produced and are worth fishing again."

Both Kuharske and Miller make a point of noting on-shore landmarks to assist in locating certain areas they want to fish again. With today's sophisticated GPS units this may not seem important, but most of us don't use GPS.

In his detailed log Miller lists the date, lake and weather conditions. For the fish he catches he says, "I find it's important to record lure and presentation, along with the length, weight, water conditions and depth."

In his daily log Cain likes to mention areas of a lake he fished that day, what baits were used, types of structure and fishing action. In his database he keeps date, time, size, lure used, location and who caught the fish.

"If it's the middle of November, I can look at years past and see where I was fishing and what types of patterns worked or didn't work."
Each of these experienced anglers has their own twists on what they keep in their log, but they all keep track of weather and water conditions. In his log Johnson notes, "I record what I did correctly and incorrectly, I also include some of my own observations on the actions of the fish and some theory of what they wanted." He says that sometimes these comments are a couple of lines, and sometimes a couple of pages.

Cain uses the information from his daily log quite often. "If it's the middle of November, I can look at years past and see where I was fishing and what types of patterns worked or didn't work," he says. "It's very helpful."

Kuharske notes, "I use the information in my log during the next season during the same time period, this is especially helpful for me related to locations with my ice fishing."

Along with assisting in what lures worked best on certain bodies of water, Witzlib says, "Using records can help you succeed on lakes you have never fished before. By looking up lakes with similar characteristics like water clarity, water temperature and weather conditions, this will give you a good start on where to fish and what to use."

Witzlib, with a smile on his face, says that over time many fishermen tend to over estimate numbers and size of fish. Records can assist our memories."

Adding a little more humor to our discussion, Miller says, "As you get older you body starts to go, your eyes, wrists, back and legs. A log is good to look back on and see what you've accomplished doing what you love." On a more serious note, he definitely feels that a log will give you a starting point for your fishing outings.

Johnson feels that by keeping a log the average fisherman will enjoy fishing trips much more, with a better understanding of the sport.

Cain says, "Anyone can benefit from keeping a fishing log, whether you're just an average fisherman or do it as a profession. It may seem tedious when you're doing it, but it definitely helps out in the long run. With our busy schedules, it's easy to forget minor details that may help in a future fishing outing, but by having it in a log, you have a reminder.

Witzlib says, "Records are fun to keep. By writing down the results of the day you are expanding your library of fishing knowledge." He feels that record keeping will allow any angler to become more efficient and more consistent.

I appreciate the time these experienced anglers took to share information on their fishing logs. Their comments have identified what type of information can be kept in a fishing log and how best to use this information.

Good Fishing!

Author Bill Schultz

Bill Schultz
Bill Schultz lives in New Berlin, WI and is a contributing writer for www.onwisconsinoutdoors.com., www.lake-link.com, www.smallmouths.com, www.onwisconsinoutdoors.com and various outdoor magazines, including On Wisconsin Outdoors and Kayak Angler Magazine. He is a smallmouth bass enthusiast and since catching his first in 1994 has caught and released over 19,000 smallies. His focus has been the big waters of Green Bay in Door County along with rivers and streams throughout Wisconsin. Bill is a popular seminar speaker and is on the Pro Staffs for Wilderness Systems Kayaks, Adventure Technology Paddles, St. Croix Rod, Crestliner Boats, Mercury Marine, Uncle Josh Bait Co, and has sponsorships with a variety of other fishing and outdoor companies. Email: smalliecentral@gmail.com