Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fishing Logs

Have I posted anything about keeping a Fishing Log before?  I mean, not that I do it, but why and how?

There are a number of reasons to keep a fishing log.
1.  Record-keeping.  A Fishing Log allows you systematically record various metrics of your fishing experiences in a standardized way.  Its funny how innaccurate your memory can be, and a fishing log is an external memory.  When I say I caught x-number of fish or the biggest fish was x-inches long...or whatever...I have the hard data to PROVE my claims.  I'm not just ball-parking or generalizing.  In the format I use, I'm able to store all my digital fishing pictures within the Fishing Log, within the date of entry when the pictures were taken.  Not only is this a good place to keep and organize my fishing pictures, it makes my Fishing Log very enjoyable to go back and look over time after time.

2.  Learning tool.  A Fishing Log allows you to accurately evaluate seasonal and yearly changes regarding your fishing experiences.  For example, after several consecutive years of record-keeping, a fellow angler was able to nail down exactly when to start fishing the shoreline of the local reservoir for White Bass.  He could show when the bite would start, and when the bite would tend to taper off.  There are year-to-year variations based on specific weather patterns, but the more years of data you have, the better you can track the trends.  This is tremendously useful in helping you decide "what to fish for, where, and when" throughout your future years of fishing.  You can choose what parameters YOU wish to track.  I like to track # days fished, total time fished, # of each species, largest of each species, what they were caught on.  You can also tie that in with weather patterns such as wind speed and direction, temperature, barometer.  Or you might wish to see if there are correlations between your fishing success and moon phase or time of day.

3.  There are a number of other reasons for keeping a Fishing Log, and I'm having a big brainfart just now, so....I'll just move on.

I used to keep a handwritten "diary" type fishing journal.  It was OK.  It was interesting to go back and "relive" my thoughts and experiences from each fishing trip.  Back in 2005, a member of our Central Iowa Anglers fishing club gave a presentation on electronic fishing logs.  He used Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, and that method had some major advantages over my handwritten diary.
The major advantages of the Excel Spreadsheet Fishing Log is that I can choose the parameters I wish to track when I develop my log.  I can add/delete parameters as I feel the need.  It standardizes and structures my fishing experiences by recording the same types of information for each trip.  I can use several pages within the spreadsheet to record differnent aspects that I couldn't do on one page.  It also allows me to tally up different items and calculate averages and note trends.  There is the graphing function...but I haven't really utilized that yet.  I also use a separate page to compare a variety of metrics from year-to-year, so I can see how the most recent year compares to past years.

I keep a separate LOG for each year.  I fish so much and insert so many pictures, by the end of the year my Log has become a rather sizeable file!  But I do copy the "summary" from all past years into the newest file so that I can compare all years at-a-glance.

And one of my favorite things about using an Excel Spreadsheet is the ability to "insert comment" into any cell of the spreadsheet.  In these "comments" I can write up a lengthy (if necessary) text description of my fishing trip.  Or, I can insert a fishing picture into that cell, and the picture will only show up when I drag my cursor over that cell.  How cool!!!

Below are a couple screen shots of parts of my Fishing Log from 2011, so you can see sort of how I set it up.  You should personalize yours so it suits your needs.  Click the pictures to make them bigger.

The red triangles in cells denote a "comment".  Drag your cursor over that cell, and the text or picture shows up.

This is the 2nd page of my log.  It specifically tracks what species I caught, when, where, adn how many.  That way I can keep a running tally all year long.


  1. Hi Dave,
    I came across this post while looking for ideas to help create my own fishing log spreadsheet. I need to do a better job tracking my fishing down here in Florida. Is there any chance you could send me a copy of the spreadsheet you use so that I can see how others are doing it. Thanks.


  2. Hello Mike!
    Yes, I can send you a version of my spreadsheet that has all the categories and pages shown, but only has a few example blanks filled in, so you can see what it will look like, and then you can delete/edit the whole thing to suit your needs.
    Just leave me your email address, and I'll get it sent to you.

  3. A very helpful writeup thank you! Being from Australia and the bulk of our fishing is done in the ocean there are a lot more conditions and weather related items I need to track and I have drafted a doc to cater for this. What I am wondering is how do you collate and use your information and turn it into useful results to refer back to later on. Do you do this? how does your analysis and charts work? Do you have a search function to pull out results say for a particular spot under certain conditions? Or do you keep this log as more of a 'brag book' of sorts? Would love to get your thoughts. Thanks in advance.

  4. Hello, Jared!
    I tried graphing something, and failed...its been over 20 years since I had to make an Excel graph! :) I'm sure others can do it with no problems. One guy I know graphed several years of his fishing log data to help determine when the peak of the White Bass run was occurring, and when they were available to shore-bound anglers.
    Mostly, I refer back to previous years to see what was biting and where at specific times of the year. It helps me determine where I should be focusing my fishing efforts at any given time of year. I enter my trip reports in chronological order, so I don't need to do any other sorting later on. However, if I wanted to go back and see where/when I caught most of my walleyes or trout in 2009, for example, then I go to my second spreadsheet page where I have my species listed. Then I can just look down the column for that species until I get to entries where I started catching them. I check the date, and can then cross-reference back to the first page to check the details of those trips.

    I hope that answers your questions? If you have any other questions or comments, I'd love to hear them.

  5. How do you embed pictures, than simply cruse over it to see the picture? Cant figure it out, in your log its the tiny red triangles

    1. Hello, Tony.
      Here's what I do:
      1. Click in the box you want to place a picture in. Then right-click and select "Insert Comment". This opens a yellow box. Around the box is a border that looks like a hatch pattern.
      2. Hover your cursor over that hatch border around the yellow box, and right-click. Select "Format Comment".
      3. In the new box that opens, select the tab "Colors and Lines".
      4. The top section of the next window is called "Fill", and there is a pull-down box called "Color". Click the down arrow and then go to the bottom and click "Fill Effects".
      5. In the next window that pops up, click the "Picture" tab. Then click the "Select Picture" button.
      6. Locate and select the picture on your computer that you want to add.
      Make sure to check the "Lock picture aspect ratio" box, then click "OK".
      7. The picture should now be in the comment window. You can resize the comment window to any size you wish.
      It sounds complicated, but after you do it a few times, it goes pretty fast.
      Hope that helps! :)

  6. Hi Dave, I noticed your happy to send a blank copy of your spread sheet it looks really great and comprehensive, I am a novice angler and looking to start to keep a copy of my catches and would love to get some ideas from others on their detail record keeping....if possible please send me on to you so much form the UK..Tight Lines

  7. Dave,
    I fish tournaments in and around central Florida. I agree with you the memory fades over time and saving data is the best way to help remember. I would really appreciate if you could send me a copy of your spread sheet.

  8. Dave,
    I have been looking for a fly fishing log in excel and I found your blog. Your blog is great and full of good info. I too would like a copy of your excel fishing log spreadsheet. Could you email me a copy.
    Thanks and Take Care,

  9. Dave,

    I have been looking for a spreadsheet that has the ease of use with the correct functionality. I like the look of your spreadsheet, could you send me a blank copy?

    Thanks in advance

    1. You got it, Thomas....its heading your way! :)

  10. Dave, I'm sure this question is overly asked, but may I have a copy sent over to me as well?


    1. Miguel, its not asked enough! :) Its no problem for me to send you an example of the Fishing Log I use. I have sent it to you. Let me know if you don't receive it for any reason.
      Good luck and enjoy, and let me know if you have any questions about it.

  11. Dave, nice fish log spreadsheet. May I have a copy blank copy sent.


    1. A copy is on its way to you, Vince. :)

  12. Hi Dave

    I've been messing about with a log of my own, but its nowhere near as comprehensive as yours - could I have a copy?

    My email is

    Also, how do you get the pics in the comment box to open up in the middle of the screen? Mine open up half off screen.

    Many thanks


    1. You bet, Dave! I've emailed a copy to you. Let me know if you don't recieve it. Also in the email, I tried to answer your question about comment/picture locations on the screen. Let me know if that doesn't solve your issue.

  13. Hi Dave,

    Really like your fishing log concept. Would be interested in a copy if you would be willing to send it to:



    1. Absolutely, Greg! I sent a copy to you, let me know if you have any questions about it. :)