Record and Prosper
REMEMBER that amazing fish you caught many years back which you can’t really remember too much of the specifics about, but you do remember it was great? We all have them. Imagine if you could relive that moment and recall all the information from that exact time. Even better, imagine if history could repeat itself!
What if I told you all of this was possible with the simple recording of information in what I like to call the Junior Angler Fishing Journal. My journal has become an essential part of my fishing life. There is no doubt in my mind I have caught more fish because of the information recorded in it.
Every fishing adventure I experience is recorded in terms of date, time, location, specific spots, weather, conditions, bag and special notes. Also included in the back of the journal is the notes I build on specific species such as pink snapper. These may include particular characteristics of the species such as their feeding habits, congregation areas and any special spots I know of. Also in the back is my species count where I record every type of fish I have ever caught, allowing me to accurately pinpoint where and when I caught my first of every species. I’m currently sitting on 99! A combination of all these aspects will allow you to build a hub of information both extremely useful and interesting.
To begin the journal I started by recording, to the best of memory (because I was two when I caught my first fish), my most significant fishing memories up to that point in time. I included everything I remembered, building story after story of all my greatest memories. I then wrote the contract … basically a promise to myself. A page stating my name, my age and the date of signing where I promised to record, to the best of my ability, all my fishing experiences from that point onwards. I’ve never looked back.
My basic page layout is quite simple. First, I record what the activity was, such as fishing, crabbing or netting. Then I record the date. Next is the location, which is usually the town or city I am in. After the location I name the spot, such as Bull Shark Ledge (a spot I have on the marina wall in Exmouth). Then I can go into a little bit more of the important stuff. I like to describe the conditions in as much detail as possible. This became very useful when I was sussing out the patterns of bream at the Bicton Baths jetty and began to notice a correlation between the colour of the water and the ease with which I would catch fish. Eventually I stopped fishing there when the water was a horrible tainted brown colour because I knew I had no chance. Instead I’d go down to the deeper water near Aquarama and get a few fish. In the conditions section I recommend putting down as many details as possible. Water temperature, water colour, amount of blowies, amount of jellyfish, wind, baitfish in the water, etc – it’s all useful information. Jot down anything you can notice because chances are it has an impact on the fish because it’s their environment. I then have a bag section to record the catch. I like to note every fish caught by my mates and I when we’re fishing together, and even fish other people catch near us. I also include the size of the fish, gender (if obvious), exactly where it was caught and what it was caught on (which lure, etc). The notes section is extremely important because sometimes those absolutely amazing things happen that you just need to put into a story. It’s not uncommon for me to take up the whole next page just blabbing on about something crazy that happened that I want to explain and remember. In the notes I usually write things like who caught which fish to reference to the bag section, along with any other special things that seem necessary or important, or even just interesting.
One of the coolest aspects of the journal in my opinion is the species count because it’s a really interesting way of thinking about fishing. It gives you a whole new challenge. You can create a bucket list of all the fish you want to put on that list. You can create goals of species on particular trips you are going on. If I’m going to Exmouth I will tell myself I want to catch at least five different species including a spango on soft plastics or a sailfish out of a trailerboat. Even the more simple goals are a great challenge, like reaching a particular number on your species list or ticking off a particular species. It gives you an entirely new motive for catching fish (like you even needed one!). There’s nothing more rewarding than going back through your information, sussing out some info and then concocting and executing a plan that enables you to cross something off your list! Be creative with the things you want to do. Record everything because knowledge is power and knowledge equals fish!
Fill your journal with every piece of information that you possibly can. Mine is chockas with newspaper articles and competitions I’ve won in the paper and little photos I’ve printed out. Pretty much anything and everything. In the beginning its hard to see the long-term benefit, but if you can persevere and get to the point where that journal holds things that your immediate memory forgets then it’s so much fun taking half an hour to read back and remember the many little things that brought you so much joy or frustration or relief. My advice is record absolutely everything, and in a year’s time you’ll thank me because what you’ll have will be priceless. You can hold your greatest memories in your hand and keep them forever in every superb fishy detail.