The Diary of Future Past

One of the great things about writing a fishing blog is that it gives you a near-permanent record of the season’s fishing exploits. I often scroll through my old blog posts recalling trips and thoughts. It’s a funny process really, a bit narcissistic, but it’s also very enlightening. It’s possible to ‘chart’ the evolution of one’s fishing life, with all the highs and lows, the glory and the disaster.

The only problem is that it’s actually quite a bit of effort to keep a blog updated (eh…), and so inevitably one doesn’t record all a season’s trips. The real nitty-gritty detail of a trip is also lost on a blog: stuff like the atmospheric pressure, the temperature and the colour of my socks. I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately: there are bound to be some hidden jewels of fishy information in those lost and under-reported trips.

I think the solution is the Diary of Future Past. A concise, all-encompassing record of every fishing trip I make. We’re talking hardware here folks, the real stuff, not just 1’s and 0’s and digital trickery. It’s the kind of record the real folks of old used to keep, the kind you can carry around and flick over whilst on the bus. I’ve been meaning to do so myself for the past couple of seasons, but it’s only now that I’ve discovered the secret to making good such ambitious intentions. Preparation, preparation, preparation.

In my old folly I thought a simple notebook would suffice. A few ruled lines, a ballpoint pen and a little determination. But the time folks, oh the time. I am really just as lazy as the next man, and it just takes too much time to start a fishing report with a totally blank sheet of paper. I need a little prodding, and the Diary of Future Past prods nicely.

There are lots of commercial fishing diaries out there, but the ones I’ve seen are rather expensive, not very good and full of advertising. So I decided to make one myself, using the glory of JFig, my printer at work and the lovely folks in the graphics and photocopying wizardry department of the University of Edinburgh. The lovely thing about making your own diary is that you can include precisely the empty spaces you want. There are also no adverts, dodgy photographs or deeply inspiring quotes from Robert Redford. It’s a diary without the fat and cholesterol, streamlined to sharply prod me into faithful adherence.

I think I’ve included the most important stuff: empty spaces for the date, details about the weather, the general hatch and trout activity, notes about the flies I used and plenty of space for meanderous wanderings. The Diary is A5 size, so it’s nice and portable, with a stiff cardboard backing and clear plastic covers. Each report has two pages: one with the writing, and a second on the back available to stick in wee photos if desired. Book one has space for 83 diary entries, which should see me through a season or two. I reckon it should be possible to file a report in about ten minutes, which fits nicely into my morning turd regime. No more excuses.


  1. The Trout Underground’s avatar

    I kept a fishing journal the four years after I moved to the Upper Sacramento River; it was handy enough that one of the guides kept calling me to check on the timing of hatches the prior years.

    Unfortunately, it became One More Thing to do after each trip (clean lines, hang waders, tie flies, etc). Plus, I discovered it’s a lot easier to simply pretend I know what’s going on…

  2. mike’s avatar

    Hi Tom, thanks a lot for stopping by. It will be interesting to see how long I can keep up my diary entries. Hopefully things will be simple enough that it won’t be too hard.

    I can certainly understand the One More Thing thing though.. except the cleaning stuff part doesn’t really figure in my routine…

  3. opax’s avatar

    Good thinking here, Mike. One year made a recordings to my cell phone of my fishing trips on the drive home. I have no idea where those recordings are now…

  4. Ralph’s avatar

    My Dear Mike, So sorry to se you think you might be ‘a bit narcissistic’, next time we meet we can arrange some psychotherapy although you may need to pay my fee in trout, or salmon would be acceptable.

    Can I assure you that a diary is a most useful tool and if kept will become a precious part of your life which you can look back on with good memories of sitting in the cold and rain catching nothing, but, it is all good fun and too be enjoyed. Keep going.

  5. Tony’s avatar

    Thanks for the link to jfig.
    I tend to keep notes for each trip,basically a set of random nature notes and I enjoy dipping back into these. But your post has made me think that I should be more disciplined! There again, I quite like the indiscipline of it all as well, so I am torn! But I think I will add some structure to the notes.
    PS March Brown Hatch on the Welsh Dee is beginning to wind down again.

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