Today, I have been thumbing through my outdoor journal, a collage
of memories of the past year. It is a ritual I enjoy on a cold day,
when spring still seems too far away.
In the journal are the little pieces that make up the big jigsaw
of the past season's trips. The companions, the successes and the
failures, the weather, the places, the wildlife, the fish landed
and lost and the knowledge hopefully gained. To me the journal is
indispensable, as important as the rest of your gear.
First journal entry
The journals first entry starts with an outing in the Terrace/Kitimat
area for cutthroat and rainbow. The rivers there open earlier and
the chance to get out and wade always prove irresistible. It is
the opportunity to fish clear water before the run-off can turn
our water to chocolate. There is snow in the shady areas, but the
sun tempts you to remove your jacket. The fish are hungry and will
readily rise to the dry. There are some steelhead about but we prefer
to let them get on with making babies.
The next entry comes when I first hear that strange, bugling note
high in the sky. The Sandhill Cranes are back and I know I can take
the binoculars and spotting scope out on the Telkwa Hi-Road to watch
them. A beautiful bird to watch, the sandhill will feed in this
area for several weeks before heading to the nesting grounds in
When the sandhills show up it also signals the ice coming off the
lakes. Journal entries come fast and furious now, and ice-off is
some of the best fly-fishing of the year. Huge chironimid hatches
begin. Chironimid fishing is high concentration fishing, and the
fish can be extremely selective.
The journal reminds me that on this date, on this lake, the fish
preferred a size 16 Chan's midge in dark brown to all the other
offerings. I have found it's always better to give the fish what
they want, rather than what you want to give them.
Litle black book
Especially with fishing, the journal becomes the little black book
with all the good names, details and addresses. For example, a trip
to Round Lake in May started slow with the micro leech picking up
lots of squawfish but few trout. Slowly moving around the lake we
finally located a feeding area where the trout were active. Checking
stomach contents showed the trout were gorging themselves on damselflies.
(All previous issues are stored in the ARCHIVE
for your convenience)
retrieve was a strip-strip-pause and they gobbled it. Water temperature
was 13C. A Bald Eagle and an Osprey were giving us some friendly
competition, and a few squawfish became target practice for the
birds. Canada geese protested our presence, and on the way out we
saw 6 mule deer. If I schedule a trip this year I will know exactly
when to go, what to use, and what action to impart to the fly.
The journal also notes four trips to the Kitimat River in pursuit
of the chinook and chum, incredibly strong and very tough to land
on a fly rod,. Special notes are taken on water clarity, depth and
speed of flow. The Kitimat can rise and fall drastically and it
is important to know what you are dealing with before making the
drive. Colors of flies and methods for achieving the right depth
and swing will insure the homework is done before this year's attempts.
I will stock up on the flies that work and take the correct lines.
There are other notes, on hikes taken, sites camped and photo opportunities
that should be followed up. There was a quick trip up to Malkow
Lookout, unfortunately, without a camera on an incredible day. The
fields halfway up were alive with color. Dandelions, lupines and
Indian paintbrush against the intense green trees of spring and
blue skies remind me to return. Perhaps I might see the sow bear
with her two cubs peeking above the flowers again.
Lots of data
Your journal entries as a fishing log should contain specific information.
Data should include date, location, companions, time fished, water
and air temperatures, water conditions, depth, flies or lures used,
tackle, wind direction, success of other anglers etc. It sounds
like a lot of work but it is an invaluable tool for becoming a 'luckier'
(read better) angler.
The journal doesn't need to be fancy. An ordinary notebook will
do, or you can buy a proper journal with spaces for the important
info. For sheer bang for the buck, nothing beats the writings in
your outdoor journal. It's educational, brings back great memories
and makes that cold winter day go by that much quicker.
(We are changing to a new publish day - Monday
of each week)
More of Bob's photos on the Photo