Fishing Logbook

The History of the Fishing Logbook & Fisherman’s Journal

Using some type of logging system can really help you improve your odds as a fisherman. It may not be the be-all-end-all trick to crowning you king of the water, but it can sure help!

What is a Fishing Logbook?

A fishing logbook is just what it sounds like: a journal for you to record important information about your outings. While most fishermen claim that they can remember what fish they caught, when, and on what lake (do you really?!!), the whole truth of the matter is that there’s no way you can remember every single detail about every single catch. Sure, you’re able to recount how big it was, and remember bragging to your fishing buddies on Facebook, but the finite details slip by the wayside.

But what about the barometric pressure at the point in time you leaned into your five pounder?

Moon phase?

GPS coordinates?

What about the depth you were casting to?

What bait were you using?


No? Can’t remember? Yup. That’s what we thought.

That’s what makes using a log book so advantageous. It allows you to record all of the truly important information so that weeks, months, or years later you can go back to the same spot, replicate those exact same circumstances (to the best of your ability), and have just as much success. Hopefully, it will let you notice patterns in fish movements and behavior related to conditions, time of day and year, feeding patterns, and more. It’s sort of akin to a football coach’s playbook.

Fishing Logbook(1)

A fishing logbook allows you to write down the stories that go with your catches and misses, so you won’t forget about anything when you try to recount them to improve on your fishing.

Using a fishing logbook can just make you a better fisherman. You can use just a lined notebook, or there are a variety of commercially available angler’s logs you can easily get your hands on through many bookstores and online retailers. There are also a wide variety of ever-evolving apps that make excellent journaling entries for you.

How much information you want to log into your journal is up to you, but the more you include, the more it will help you in the future. Typical information includes:

  • Date
  • Site
  • GPS coordinates
  • Weather (wind direction and speed)
  • Temperature
  • Barometric pressure
  • Moon data
  • Water temperature
  • Water clarity
  • Tide
  • Lake level
  • What depth you fished (and caught)
  • Lure description (size, type, color, presentation)
  • How you fished
  • Description of catches (number and size)
  • Anything else that might be helpful to you down the road

Where Did the Fishing Logbook Come From?

While it seems that the story of how the fishing journal got its start, it’s clear that fishermen have been logging their data for centuries leaving behind glimpses into the stories that shaped the open waters. Marine historians are unearthing logbooks and journals from as far back as the 1600’s detailing how pairs of boats began dragging nets between them, creating the real revolution of deep sea fishing.

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Modern fisheries have only been keeping serious track of many marine populations for the past 30 to 40 years, so modern day researchers are using these old fishing journals to piece together what’s been happening to marine life. One account written in Sicily in 1153 described North Atlantic marine life as being so big that islanders built their homes and tools out of their bones.

Historically, ship skippers kept fishing logbooks for their own information. No one else read it, so they had no reason to alter the facts of their day’s catch. Fishing logbooks are now used in the commercial fishing industry to record catch data as a part of the fisheries regulations. The information is then submitted to the fishing authorities of the vessel’s flag state. That means a lot of modern commercial records have been falsified or skewed.

No one is sure when recreational anglers started keeping their own records, but it stands to reason that it is an age-old tradition, born of the desire to be able to repeat tales of conquest, as well as pattern fish for future reference.

Can it Get Any Easier to Keep a Fishing Logbook?

It sure can! Remember we mentioned fishing apps? Yup.

Apps like ANGLR give you the ability to log all of that data seamlessly with the touch of a button. You can plan your trips ahead of time by dropping waypoints, and the app to tracks your GPS path, weather and water data, and more automatically while you fish. Paired with the optional Bullseye, a click of a button can mark your waypoints and your catches, allowing you to notate your presentation right then and there, or to come back later and edit it. You’re even able to attach pictures to each location, catch, or both!

Fishing Logbook(3)

Once you’re home, all you have to do is log in on your computer to look up reports so you can notice predictable patterns as they begin to emerge, allowing you to coordinate your fishing efforts in the future in the right locations with the right approach.

Ancient logbooks are being studied to find patterns in local populations, such as cod off the coast of New England. While you stand to gain the most from reviewing your adventures, who knows how it could help anglers in the future?


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