This 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
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
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
Dave Micus lives in Ipswich, Massachusetts. He is an
avid striped bass fly fisherman, writer and instructor.
He writes a fly fishing column for the Port City Planet
newspaper of Newburyport, MA (home of Plum Island and Joppa Flats)
and teaches a fly fishing course at Boston University.