Lost art of the fishing diary
FOR all the advantages modern technology gives anglers, I can’t help feeling a little sad that we so seldom put pen to non-virtual paper these days.
Sure, we have blogs and endless Facebook updates, but what of those more personal, intimate memoirs we once kept?
A diary is something quite unique. It is not written to flog tackle, collect ‘likes’ or even appeal to an audience. It’s your own personal, blow-by blow account of fishing. Memories of good and bad days, along with lessons learned and, if you’re a bit geeky, meticulously-gathered statistics and findings.
Looking back over the years, so many great fishing writers nurtured their craft through diaries. Dog-eared books that rambled about baits, the weather and all the other things anglers ponder. But if that sounds rather whimsical, it’s also worth noting that to this day specialist anglers love to record their fishing.
Indeed, from the likes of Phil Smith to Dr Mark Everard, those who meticulously log their sessions tend to be annoyingly consistent.
My own diaries sit hidden on a shelf, to be taken down and revisited every so often. Their content ranges from amateur science to bad poetry.
Memories come flooding back and they make me smile and cringe in equal measure.
I used to update these logbooks religiously and every trip would end with another account. I would cut out articles, maps and drawings and stick them alongside my scribblings, along with notes on the conditions and even the exact times bites occurred.
I suppose it all changed with the advent of the blog, which took over as my personal fishing record. A shame in one sense because, much as I like blogs, they are seldom quite so honest or confessional as a diary. The moment there is an audience present, there is always some degree of censorship. Whether it’s sensitive information, or opinions and experiences you’d rather keep to yourself, some of the most candid bits get filtered out.
Has the true angling diary died out then? Not entirely. Chris Yates is probably our greatest living angling diarist, with some of his more colourful personal records passing into the sport’s literature. As for the closest we have to a regular ‘warts-and-all’ journal piece with all the juicy bits and less fashionable truths and opinions left in the mix, look no further than our own Des Taylor.
As for the future, who can say? I’d certainly recommend any would-be angling scribe to start by keeping a diary. In fact, it was a simple journal that got me writing regularly about fishing in the first place. But a diary is so much more than that too. It’s a pleasure in its own right, bringing back happy memories and important lessons.
What a shame, therefore, that the fishing diary has become a bit of an endangered species.
Fishing diaries are a great way to store memories and record vital clues.