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Diaries are good for more than secrets

Judy Van Put - Columnist
Posted 4/26/21

It was nice to see so many people out and about this weekend -- riding bicycles, picking up litter, frequenting local businesses, fishing the Willowemoc and Beaverkill.

Area rivers and streams …

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Diaries are good for more than secrets

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It was nice to see so many people out and about this weekend -- riding bicycles, picking up litter, frequenting local businesses, fishing the Willowemoc and Beaverkill.

Area rivers and streams continue to drop as they have since the beginning of April. On Sunday afternoon, April 25, the USGS website revealed that the Beaverkill at Cooks Falls was flowing at just 362 cubic feet per second. This is below the average flow for this date of 1030 cfs based on 106 years of record-keeping.

As we are still in the early weeks of the trout season it might be a good time TO consider keeping a fishing diary. Why keep a diary you might ask? Keeping a written record of your fishing is a valuable learning tool - in fact some may remember the DEC advertising angler diaries, requesting volunteers to keep a fishing log which was turned in at the end of the season, tabulated, and compiled with other information that was used to assist in determining future fishing regulations. Journaling can enhance your fishing outings and add to your enjoyment of the sport. In addition, you can look back on your angler diaries in days and years to come and re-live experiences that you might have forgotten about.

Fishing is a life-long pastime that can be enjoyed from childhood through adulthood and well into your senior years. No matter where you may go, there are many species of fish and types of fishing to enjoy - and learning more about them will make you a better angler.

A diary that fits in your fishing vest may be especially useful as you will have it with you on each fishing trip to jot down information you might forget about by the time you return home.

Whether you use a small notebook or ready-made fishing journal there are a number of things to record.

Start off with the date and time of day. You'll begin to see a pattern in your success rate whether fishing mornings, afternoons or evenings, for example. Next record the stream or body of water where you fish, with the name of the pool or access site. I'll often make note of the air temperature and water temperature - you'll need a stream thermometer for this; especially during the heat of summer, a stream thermometer is a valuable tool that should be a part of a serious trout fisher's equipment. Stream conditions would come next - whether the water is high or low, muddy/discolored or ‘gin-clear.' You can check the USGS website for the streams that have water gauging stations, such as the Beaverkill, East and West Branches of the Delaware, among others, and become familiar with river levels when the water is at a low, average or high flow.

Take a good look around to see what else might be of importance - if you're a fly-fisher, that would include whether or not you see any flies hatching or on the water, or if there are any fish rising. I'll note things like mergansers, eagles, beavers, mink or other wildlife. All this can be observed even before you start fishing!

Of course you'll need to record your catch information - type of fly or lure used, species and length and number of fish caught, whether the fish was kept or released. Be sure to also record when you do NOT catch any fish, and as time goes on, you'll begin to see a pattern of when you were least or most successful and under what conditions: for example, having no success while fishing a large caddis imitation on a sunny August afternoon under low water conditions, or doing well fishing a very small dry fly in late June just after dark.

Reviewing and utilizing this information will help improve your success in future fishing trips.

Judy Van Put is a long-time member of the NYS Outdoor Writers Association, and is the recipient of the New York State Council of Trout Unlimited's Professional Communications Award.

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