I’ll bet you can remember the first bass tournament you ever fished. I’ll bet you remember how many fish you caught, who your partner was and where you placed. You probably remember where you were fishing and what you caught them on. You may even remember what the weather was, how you were retrieving your lure and especially the big one that got away. But can you remember what the water temperature was? How about whether a front had just passed? Can you remember exactly how deep you were fishing? Was the lake level rising, falling or was it steady? Was there current or bait fish activity? How clear was the water? If your first tournament occurred fairly recently, you may be able to recall these details. If you’re like me and this happened over 20 years ago, you probably can’t answer all these questions. Now, what about all the trips between your first tournament and your most recent? Can you recall all the details about every trip? Unless you’ve been keeping an accurate fishing log, I would bet you can not honestly answer yes.
If you have the opportunity to talk to any of the big name tournament fishermen, they will all have one thing in common; they all keep incredibly accurate records every time they are on the water. It’s the only way they will be able to recall with any level of accuracy the answers to the questions posed above plus a host of other important details. Even if you have no intention of becoming a serious tournament angler, keeping track of your trips will allow you to duplicate your success and increase your overall enjoyment of bass fishing.
It is true that keeping an accurate fishing log has always been a bit of a chore. Many folks stick to scratching entries into notebooks. Thanks to computers, a few of the more technically savvy anglers can create spreadsheets and with a little programming knowledge, can even make something fancy that allows searches for specific details in previous entries. Whatever method you choose it is imperative that you get in the habit of taking notes and documenting as many details as possible. Some of the critical details you will want to track are water temperature, depth you found your fish, water clarity, the structure and cover that held the fish, and the specific weather conditions you encountered. You will want to make sure you note whether a front was approaching or had just passed because as we all know, fronts have a huge impact on the mood of the fish. And last, but certainly not least; you will need to note exactly where on the lake or river you found your fish. It’s not enough to say you caught the fish on main lake points. You need to state specifically in which portion of the main lake you were fishing. In doing this, you will discover certain portions of the lake or river will be more productive during certain times of the year. You may also choose to include items such as moon phase, lure and retrieve speed, equipment notes, and anything else you feel had an impact on your trip.
Don’t get me wrong; I realize there are some problems you’ll encounter when starting a fishing journal or log book. It takes some time to take accurate notes while you’re on the water and then some additional time to catalog it once you’re home. Often times you find yourself fishing the same bodies of water year in and year out, but almost never are you lucky enough to hit the same body of water the same week as you did last year under the same conditions. Inevitably, something is different. The lake is colder this time or you fished in the rain before and this year you are facing bright, bluebird skies. I have to admit it; this is one of the things that kept me from keeping a fishing journal for the longest time. I just never seemed to be able to find the information I needed in my logs because as a tournament fisherman, I never had the luxury of choosing where and when I was going to fish. Thus, it took years to accumulate enough information until it became useful to me.
Fortunately, there is a better way to collect and sort this information and it’s found on www.FindTheBass.com. This is a website that was started in April of this year that has eliminated most of the problems with previous fishing logs. Inputting your information takes only a few minutes and once it’s stored in the FTB database, it can be sorted in ways limited only by your imagination. You can separate practice days from tournament days, check to see what kind of weights will be needed to break into the Top 10 for any given month, or look to see where on the lake flipping and pitching have been the most productive. It utilizes a unique system to separate any body of water into seasonally productive sections so you can eliminate 90% of the water before you leave the house. The best part of the system is the fact that you’re not relying on the information you and you alone are plugging into the database. FindTheBass.com is combining information from all the members, greatly improving the rate at which you’ll discover patterns that may have taken a lifetime to notice if you were doing this on your own. I can promise you that if you start taking a few minutes to utilize this tool before and after each and every trip, you will become a better bass fisherman.