The Fishing Log
by Dave Micus
his year, once again, I have decided to keep a fishing log, something that I vow to do every year, but, like New Year's resolutions, seems to fall by the wayside as the year progresses. I think it's because, again like New Year's resolution, I set too high of a standard. I envision myself writing vivid, picturesque tales of my fishing exploits, complete with illustrations, maybe even with stamps like the old whaling logs used, showing whales landed and whales lost. This lasts for a week or two, but then I find myself not recording my thoughts immediately after a trip, then playing catch-up, and then abandoning the project all together. But at least I'm only out the cost of a journal and not, as with my New Year's resolution, the cost of a gym membership.
I realize now that brevity is key, and, remembering the famous U.S. destroyer log entry from World War II, "Saw sub, sank same," I've decided to simplify the log, avoid the long ruminations in which I come off as trying to be Hemingway, and just keep a count of number of times fishing, number of fish caught, and the average number of fish caught per trip. And while it is said that a gentleman only counts his change, I thought, never having claimed gentleman status, it would be interesting to see what my totals for a season would be. By using an excel spreadsheet, maintaining the log will be easy. I set up fields for date, fishing locations, and total fish caught, then added formulas that will tally the fish and figure the average. Plus, it will be legible, and I won't find myself at the end of the season trying to translate my own chicken scratch that is an embarrassment to my Catholic school primary education. I toyed with the idea of adding fish size and average fish size, but that seemed to be getting a little too complex (and potentially embarrassing).
I also considered maintaining a blog, web-log, but, I'm ashamed to say, I'm not that computer savvy, and we all know that autobiographies tend to be a bit less forthright than diaries-just ask Bill Clinton. I would likely embellish the good and down play the bad if my log were accessible to a wider audience, and while I'll lie to friends about my fishing experiences I don't feel comfortable lying to strangers.
To date, I've been quite meticulous in maintaining the log, mainly because it only involves turning on the pc and punching in the numbers. I can now sign on and see instantly how many times I've been fishing and total number of fish taken. For example, in the past six weeks I've been fishing 21 times (or a little more than three times per week), and I've caught 104 striped bass, or almost five per trip. My best day so far has been 18 fish; my worst day was, surprise, zero. During this same six weeks I cut the grass four times and helped clean the house three times (ok, twice), but, fortunately, the bride doesn't maintain a log of my household chores. The fishing log, by the way, is password protected so it doesn't end up as exhibit "A" in divorce court.
It is still early in the season and it won't be long until 20 and 30 fish days aren't uncommon, with even occasional 40+ fish days thrown in for good measure. It will be fun looking back and seeing the leap in numbers that indicates the bass migration is in full swing.
While it probably makes sense to, once I'm in the habit of maintaining it, expand the log and include tide, moon phase, fish size, flies fished, and a text field for observations, there is a certain gestalt to the unvarnished candor of the log as is. I can see at a glance that it is one of the few balance sheets in my life where debits don't exceed credits, and that says more than words ever could.
But if I do add text, I'll keep it simple:
Saw bass, caught same. What else is there to say?
Dave Micus lived in Ipswich, Massachusetts where he was an avid striped bass fly fisherman, writer, instructor and "star" of an episode of the outdoor show, Fly Fishing America. In 2006 he made the move from sea level to the Rocky Mountains of Montana where he has taken up fly rodding for trout, hunting and enjoying life in the "Big Country."
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