This year I made a promise to myself that I would do two things this coming fishing season. The first was to file a float plan when I go out, and the second was to keep a fishing log. Neither of these things is new - I’ve said I was going to do them before, but for one reason or another I rarely do. For this year I came up with a new strategy to get them done.
Filing a float plan is one of those things we should all do when we go out on the water, but I’m willing to bet few of us actually do it. I’m am as bad or worse than most - mine normally consist of a Post-It note with my launch location and the time I plan on calling home, left on the fridge for my wife. This is especially bad due to my propensity for venturing out solo. While most of the time I rarely find myself alone on the water, I know I really need to start doing this. My plan is to fill out a one-page form which I will make a copy of to leave with my wife and place the original on the seat of my car. Eventually I will place it in my log book, but more on that later.
You can find lots of sample float plans online, or you can make your own. The form I made is fairly elaborate. Most of the information on my form will be filled out once and never changed, and some of it will rarely be used. The most important thing is to find or make one that you will use. Another thing to remember is when you use a float plan or tell somebody you are going to be coming back at a certain time, make sure you call them and let them know you are back safely. This prevents the unnecessary mobilization of emergency personnel while you are driving home, which is never a good thing.
Fishing logs are great tools, especially when you fish the same areas regularly. If you collect enough of the right data, you can determine patterns that you would not find otherwise. These could be related to the time of the year, weather conditions, water temperature, water clarity, time of day, level of the tide, moon phase or some other variable. There are lots of ways to keep a log. You can write in a notebook, use a computer program or online service, or some other invention of your own design. The only requirement is to record information on what, where, when, and how you catch or don’t catch fish.
My plan is to use a small “Rite-in-the–Rain” notebook while I am out on the water to write down notes. When I get off the water, I will transfer the information onto a log I made on the back side of my float plan. Hopefully this will help me get in the habit of using the float plan as well, as it has information about the trip. I will keep the logs in a three-ring binder, and eventually transfer the information into one of the online services. I plan on trying several services this year to see which one I like best. The final step will be to use the information to plan future trips.