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Another year, another resolution; whether paper and pencil or downloadable APP, make this season you stick to your plan to create and maintain a fishing log to help improve forecasting and success in the future.

By Jim Hutchinson, Jr.
Various phone apps make forecasting and tracking fishing success a snap, but even for the most tech savvy anglers the key to data collection is the initial commitment to collecting the data somewhere.

Lose weight, eat healthy, be kinder to others and ignore Internet tough guys…

There are plenty of resolutions that will fall quickly to the wayside in 2018, still others I think worthy of adding to a prioritized list. Personally, maintaining my active fishing logs is high on that list in terms of ways to improve personal fishing success in 2018.

We all know how it is; every year we promise to start one of these detailed catch and effort logs. But once the steady fishing gets started we think “at this point in my life, why bother?”

Why? Life changes for one thing. Back in 2006 when I first moved to New York to work in The Fisherman Magazine’s home office in Shirley, NY, it was easy to finally start that surf fishing log I’d always promised to start. I didn’t have the “why bother” mentality because this was new-to-me, uncharted territory. And in that first fall run in New York working my new stretch of beach, the very basic and simple fishing log I started on my laptop at home made learning a favorite new fishing spot a lot easier with each fall run that followed.

For me the surf log was fairly basic; date with results was pretty important, though immediately following each trip I would start a new entry and spend a minute or two logging the session. Looking over those entries a season or two later can provide a good trend analysis of what to plan for on subsequent outings.

October 3, 2014 (8 stripers, 1 blue, 1 fluke)
First on the beach at sunrise on a Friday, offshore winds, slight swell. Very first cast with Little Neck at jetty produced a short fish. Low tide at 9:30, current sweeping east to west. No visible signs of fish to start; a few mullet, mostly small fish chasing skinny bait at the lip. Deadly Dick was deadly on fish until I lost it – also took fish on small white shad (wished I had lighter tackle). Fished until 11 a.m. Jumped fence again to get in (the folks fixed the fence crawl space behind the house – need to get a parking pass).

And yes, for my longtime buddies back in Jersey, looking at how many New Yorkers are forced to deal with restricted parking and locked up beaches by fence jumping is an interesting snapshot at what we will forever be looking to defend from the south!

Where possible and when time allows, it’s good to follow up your information with a visit to NOAA’s Coastal Water Temperature Guide (CWTG) website to grab an approximate water temp, and logging the stage of the moon could provide great data for later forecast efforts.

If you’re buying new boat, switching marinas or making a wholesale move to a new area, a more detailed fishing log really must be on your priorities list for 2018. In addition to the simplest of diary listings, by grabbing varied water temps from your fishfinder at different locations you’re fishing on a daily basis will really help zero in on the bite in future trips. I know some folks who keep a pencil and notepad in the helm for keeping such details for later logging at home.

A basic WORD document with journal entries is simplest, especially for surfcasting; Excel of course provides you with same better sorting options while those who are into database programs could use Microsoft ACCESS or the like to really juice up the options.

On the other hand, I can’t gush enough about the Navionics software. First of all, the Navionics Boating APP for your smartphone provides the same detailed charts as you’ll find on your onboard GPS, and a one-year subscription includes download updates and the Community Edits which allow you to share and contribute chart updates with other users. On my little bay boat, I have an old Garmin unit that I rely on for popcorn trails which I use in conjunction with the Navionics Boating APP on my phone (just remember to go to your phone settings to change the Auto-Lock feature in your Display setting so your screen doesn’t constantly go to sleep on your during your trip) and my fishfinder.

What’s great about today’s plotters is that the likes of Lowrance, Raymarine and Simrad can record your daily trips allowing you to export to a card and upload them later at home. Here’s where you can get enhanced SonarChart data of your favorite spots through Navionics; some of the best fishermen I know isolate some of this log data to review in the offseason to figure out where they’d actually marked fish and where they caught fish.

But short of that complex research, just taking screen grabs from my cellphone with the Navionics APP open can provide a photographic reference (with GPS numbers) to use later in my home fishing logs; in fact, if you’re using Word to create your daily fishing diaries you can actually embed photos of the fish you caught, screen shots with GPS numbers, or snapshots of your onboard electronics.

It’s up to you of course what you actually decide to include in your log and how detailed the information; the morning I actually got hung up by my waders while hopping a fence on the South Shore of Long Island before dawn and dangled for 2 minutes while laughing uncontrollably was not entered for future reference.

But here are some specifics you may want to include for own records.

Air temp:
Water temp:
Wind direction/speed:
Water conditions:
Stage of tide:
Bag & size fish caught:
Depth where caught:
Type of baits/lures:
Bottom structure:
Fishing partners:
Miscellaneous comments:

For a look at more detailed fishing logs and available software programs online, check out John Skinner’s FishersLog!