Ask for a Fishing Diary this Christmas

Last week I was blogging about filming fishing with a GoPro camera which stirred up memories of a time (long ago!) when I maintained in depth diaries of all my fishing adventures.  I recorded everything. 

Sizes of fish, species, what time of day I caught them, a map of the successful areas, the line I was using, depth, temps, the odd photograph and I even have some of the actual flies I used during those trips, stapled to the pages in a poly bag.  It is fair to say I was a proper geek about it all.

Nick Harts fly fishing diary showing photographs & maps

A map of the lake, the successful fly and a photo of the catch from August 1993

Looking back at my final completed diary I see that the last day I made an entry was on 11th August 1994 when I was 19 years old, fishing Wimbleball reservoir with a great friend, Phil Prideaux.  It’s not just the techniques and tactics that a diary records but also the fun you have with mates.

Phil was an old boy when we were fishing and sadly he has now passed but when I read back through the many trips we shared it reminds me of all those good times.  How hard am I kicking myself that for whatever reason I gave up on my diary?

That’s twenty years of unrecorded memories not just in the UK but also Ireland, Spain, Norway, Africa, Argentina, The Bahamas, Venezuela, New Zealand and several areas of the USA including Montana, Florida & Louisiana.

Nick Harts Fly Fishing Diary - Aug 1994

The last entry in my last proper fishing diary – August 1994

Maybe that is not strictly true because I was lucky enough to document some of those journeys within published magazine articles, books and on the screen.  And in my role as a guide I have a legion of amazing recollections about days out with clients to all sorts of cool places, recorded on my blog in the trip reports & news section.  But even though I love this vicarious style of fishing it is not the same as being in control of that rod for yourself.

It’s the very reason that in my opinion fishing guides should not fish with their clients because when they hook the fish of the day will their guest truly remember the moment (with their head & their wallet!) for the right reasons?  I am imagining an entry with quite a few of these !!!! and probably a bit of this £$%^*! Anyway that’s an entirely different subject; back to the Christmas list.

There are all sorts of fishy bits you could add to such a list and I will no doubt post some thoughts soon, like I did here in My guide to the fishing presents I would like this Christmas, but something which I promise would be truly helpful and fun is a fishing diary.  I would even suggest that it may just make you (or the angler in your life), a better angler.

Write all those experiences down and it becomes pretty powerful stuff which no doubt assists with our ability to be more instinctive about the choices we make while fishing.  For example if you have recorded that on such & such reservoir in such & such wind the fish seem to be shoaling on such & such bank then the next time you head for such & such lake in such & such wind you already have a decent game plan forming in your head and might well be heading to the very same such & such bank.

And excerpt from Nick Harts Fly Fishing diary in 1993

A tough day but I still remember vividly that Brown sipping down a dry (See picture at top of page)

This may sound a little bit serious but in all honesty it should make every trip even more satisfying (and therefore fun) because there is nothing quite like catching a fish and understanding exactly why the line went tight.  Or not as the case may be!  Whatever the conclusion to the day’s events by recording what you are up to there is no doubt that you will learn.  And just think you could use your shiny new diary as the perfect excuse to get out of the house … on Boxing Day!

So let’s take a quick look at some of the options for documenting your fishing trips.  Some may shout facebook, and there are various spin offs aimed at anglers, inspired by the famous social media platform.  I had a very brief experience with one of these a couple of seasons ago, but it didn’t really feel like a diary and so gave up after just a couple of entries.

I stuck fishing diary into Google and found links to Apps such as this, but I feel they lack the personal touch which a hand written diary exudes.  After all anyone can download an App and populate it, but your own printed diary in short hand or long, with pictures and diagrams is unique to you.

One of the best diaries I have ever seen is kept by a friend of mine who records all his sporting exploits meticulously with both rod and gun, using nothing more than high quality hardbound A4 lined paper which he then populates himself.  This blank sheet approach offers something truly unique and allows your imagination to form the contents of each page.

On a commercial basis my Googling unearthed this impressive looking hand made fishing journal bound in leather at a very reasonable £22.99  It’s a blank canvass waiting for a lifetime of piscatorial pleasure bound between a cover fit to be passed from generation to generation.

Hand made leather fishing diary

An impressive hand made, leather bound fishing diary (Image credit – DiaryShop)

If you are into both fishing & shooting then Quillers Game & Fish Record Book is worth a look, providing prompts to complete and illustrated throughout with fine artworks of popular quarry.  It looks swish, possibly a little too swish, because for the really authentic look I don’t think we should be scared to spill some coffee or something stronger on the pages while completing an entry or reminiscing about times gone by.

In which case there is this, a very reasonably priced (£6.95) but never the less well thought out fishing log book available here through Just Fish & Shoot offering in depth charts to complete and wipe clean covers.  The perfect stocking filler; leaving room under the tree for all the tackle tartery that you are going to need so you have something to record in the book!

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2 Responses to Ask for a Fishing Diary this Christmas

  1. Hi Nick – this post is a year old but just as valid and it’s just made my new year resolution to keep a diary. ( I just wrote “dairy”- maybe save that for another time).
    Like you, I kept an angling diary as a kid and you’re right – apart from becoming increasingly useful to refer to as time goes by, they also serve to rekindle a lot of treasured memories of great days with good friends.
    I spent most of last year fishing Chew Valley lake. This year will see me returning to small stillwaters – hope to catch up with you at yours soon.
    All the best,
    Perry Bamonte

    Perry Bamonte | January 17, 2015 at 11:38 pm | Reply
    • Hi Perry, thank you for taking the time to comment. Yes I am looking forward to getting my diary going again this year and hope to visit Chew Valley myself, love that place and Blagdon of course. Look forward to seeing you at Exe Valley Fishery in 2015. Best Fishes and I hope you finish the season with a bulging diary of exciting adventures. Nick.

      Nick Hart | January 18, 2015 at 1:13 pm | Reply

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