Anglers keep a lot of details in their heads about their best days of fishing, but they would have even more such days if they kept those details in a journal and studied that journal over time. It's not just the good days they should keep records of though. Writing down all the details of the bad luck days can be just as valuable.
Sumter's Morgan Watt started off like most anglers do – making a mental recording of a stellar fishing day he had in a backwater creek near Fripp Island.
"A few of us caught over a hundred fish that day in a short period of time, and we caught multiple species with a number of different techniques. It was one of those days when everything was working," he said.
Watt remembered the date, the tide cycle and the time of day. He went back the same day one year later with that little bit of knowledge, and got skunked.
"I couldn't understand it, but then I started looking at other factors. I didn't pay attention to wind speed or direction on that 100-fish day, and I didn't know the barometric pressure, water temperature, moon phase, recent rainfall or a number of other details. That's when I started a written journal."
Watt lives two hours from saltwater, so he likes to maximize his time on the water, and keeping a journal has helped him do that. Even when the fishing is poor, he records everything meticulously.
"This doesn't mean I won't go fishing on a day that's a lot like one of the poor days in my journal, but it does mean I will likely try fishing in a different place and/or use different techniques or try fishing at different times. I'm going to approach things differently for sure," he said.
Anglers shouldn't overlook any detail, no matter how small it may seem, Watt said. That bit of advice paid off for him when fishing in Beaufort County's Hunting Island Lagoon recently. The wind, moon phase, tide cycle, water and air temperatures – and really every other detail was in place to have a great day for redfish, according to his journal, but he was struggling to get a bite.
"I read a little more in-depth and discovered that on two previous occasions that we'd had good luck, we scaled our bait down from live shrimp to tiny pieces of cut shrimp, something we had initially discovered by accident years ago when I first started keeping the journal. I had forgotten that one detail, but once we made that switch, our luck changed," he said.
Watt goes old-fashioned with his journal, writing it all down by hand in a hard-back version, but other anglers use electronic versions like Fishing Logs (www.fisharc.com) or Pro Fishing Log (www.profishinglog.com).