The holidays are over and now that our presents are all unwrapped, our new Freestone gear is all hung up with care, we can look forward to the new adventures 2018 will bring. With that in mind this week in our Freestone Fishing Guide I'm going to go into a few things that can make those new memories even better. Each and every year at this time we sit around with family and friends and reflect on our past year. We plan and make resolutions for the upcoming year. As hardcore anglers most of those thoughts revolve around fishing.
Personally this year I plan on doing 12 new experiences, one for each month and hope that most of them require some sort of fishing. I've picked my weekends, I've started to plan trips and I've gone over this years journal just to see how few days I actually fished. So that brings me to this weeks topic journals.
Each year I sit down with a fresh day planner and look at all those empty pages with dreams of steelhead in the winter months and dry fly sipping rainbows in the summer. I can feel the excitement overtake me. It's a simple tradition that every angler should do. Keeping even a simple journal allows you to go back and look over past years adventures better than any Facebook post ever could. It personalizes it, makes it yours alone and it makes it easy to hide all those skunked days. Even if all you do is write down where you went and how many fish you caught or how many you didn't, the fact you put that knowledge down for future use is enough.
The key things I like to focus on when I'm journling:
The date and time I fished.
Just quick and dirty approximations of time and how much time I actually fished. Whether that be 10 mins or 10 hours I write it down.
What the weather was like.
Again just a quick jot down of what it was doing out there. We're not meteorologists here, we don't need every detail. (Though I know some guys who like to know the barometric pressures and if it was falling or rising, each to their own). Was it cloudy, sunny, approximate temperature etc. Easy stuff.
What rod and lines I'm using.
This might not change much if you only have one rod, but it's nice to know. Especially if you look back and see you've neglected your old trusty 5wt for a few too many months.
What flies I used and how I fished them.
You could write down so much here and still miss a thing or two. Let's say you're nymphing and take off one split shot then add two later and then go naked for the end of the day. Unless your extremely anal about keeping every nuance written down I like to just keep it simple. I fished a size 14 elk hair caddis for the morning, switched to a size 12 prince nymph for the afternoon under an indicator in 3ft of water. Simple and yet effective enough to know what the hell I was doing that day.
The water conditions.
Was the river high and dirty? What was the lakes temperature? Did I see any bug activity before I started to fish? What was the current like? Etc, etc. Ask yourself a few questions and look around even if you just move ten feet up the river. Do it again. If you spend any time doing this one step it can improve your game drastically when it comes to future trips. You can look back and quickly see if anything new happened on the river, if that log jam is still there where that monster cuttie was hiding all day. Or if the current has sped up or slowed down. How the water level is different or the same. All equally important information that makes your fishing time even better.
Simple right? Wrong. I like to go into more depth here than just how many I caught. I like to add how many strikes I missed, where in my drift did they bite, what the size was (estimations are fine but always tell the truth here, this is no place for fish tales. Save that for Facebook). Roughly what time did I catch them and how far between each strike. Take your time here and be thorough and be honest again this is only for your eyes so no need to impress yourself.
This section is for anything that you might want to add. Who you went with and how many they caught, what you ate for lunch. Any cool experiences that happened like that big old Sasquatch that came strolling down the river bank you couldn't snap a picture of. Or that alien looking thing that crawled out from the bushes as you were relieving yourself. That big eagle that eyed your fish like it was supper time.
I find journaling to be an awesome addition to my fishing techniques and I believe it makes me a better angler. Knowledge is power after all and the human memory is a finicky thing that can't always be counted on. So this new year try out this technique, start the new year off on the right foot and buy yourself a day planner.
With all that said Freestone would like to wish everyone a safe, happy 2018. We hope you fill every page of that journal with memories of giant fish and great trips with your family and friends. All the best to all of you and thanks for all your continued support!