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.|