Keeping a Fly Fishing Journal Pays Benefits
It took me half a dozen fly fishing years to consider keeping a journal to capture details of each outing. Finally, a fly fishing friend who kept a journal got my attention:
“With the number of times and the different waters you fish, you are losing information that would much help choosing where and when to go and what to use during any future trip.”
Dave was a detail guy, so every bit of information that impacted his fly fishing success during an outing went into his fly fishing journal. I watched him jot down thoughts in a little notebook even while fishing!
“ Yes,”‘he said,”It would mean that after each outing part of the evening or the next day would be devoted to compiling significant details.”
His suggestion seemed at first to me like an exercise in futility. But I dutifully began, and after the first year with about fifty outings described, the “light came on”, and I wished I had started earlier. That revelation came around about 1980 in the days before personal computers were available and notebooks or card files provided information storage. As the 1980s progressed, I could see trends in the captured information developing that provided detail gems that helped in deciding where to fish and what to use while doings so. Since then updating my journal after each outing has become the final part of any outing. Things are different now with such as WORD or EXCELL providing convenient ways to capture and store information, so sometime in the early 1990’s I converted my journal electronically.
So what should be included in a fly fishing journal? That’s a great question, and for the first few years I added categories as I progressed through each season. But here are some basics that should be captured.
Name of Water Fished and Specific Location (include any USGS gage flow reading that influences water fished )
Date and Time of Day Fished
Insect Activity and Other Food Items Present for Fish
Equipment and Flies Used
Catch for Each Fly
Comments ( I include travel conditions especially on back country roads and crowd conditions)
Here’s how the entry for each outing looks in my journal. Consider it just an example, so construct one to your preference, and add anything else that describes your experience and fishing success.
Date: 7/14/2019 Friday Allen Ranch gage 200 cfs Where: Blackfoot River Wildlife Management Area
Time of Day: 1100-1730
Weather: Bright, Building cumulus mainly to east, Nice, Increasing breeze, High Barometric Pressure, Air temp to low 80s
Water: Somewhat high, Some discolor, Weeds growing, 57 Deg. F. at 1200, 60 Deg. F. at 1600
Emergences: Hoppers, ants abundant, caddis activity increases with time, very few PMDs, some rises
Equipment and Flies Used: WF-5-F/S, 9 ft, 2X tippet, WF-7-F, 9ft, 3X tippet
Bead Head Peacock Leech #6: 7 cutts; one is 21.5 “, others 18″, 16” on down to small, some hits
Blond Humpy #12: 3 cutts one is 17” others small, few other hits
Catch: 10 cutts
Comments: Patterns simulating drifting earthworms may be best when river is this high. Missed another big cutt using leech pattern. Small fish rising & LeRoy tries for them, but got nothing bigger than 14”. Two guys fishing behind us. Fish not keying on hoppers yet, may be full of worms. IDF&G fisheries biologist Arnie from Pocatello office present doing fish survey. He says cutts holding their own here. Roads are quite dusty and “washboardy” in places.