Record keeping is an endeavor that has always fascinated many folks. When one looks at the statistics that are kept on major league baseball players or NFL teams, it would appear that there must be literally thousands of well-paid employees who meticulously record these facts. I mean, record of everything seems to be categorized and computed, all for the sake of helping to win a game. Yet, there are anglers throughout the land that do exactly the same thing, all in the name of being able to make the right call for making the biggest catch.
I am no stranger to record keeping involving fishing trips. For a 17-year period from 1977 to 1994, I kept accurate, detailed records of every fishing trip I took. Among the recorded facts were place, dates, exact times, weather conditions, lures and lure colors, or baits, water temperatures, wind direction, depth fish were caught, species caught and exact sizes and weights, along with a few other bits of info I thought worthy to detail. During that 17-year span, I would have to say that I probably learned more about fish and fishing than any other period of my life.
Nowayears, I keep records, but not near as detailed or exacting. Blame it on laziness, old age or whatever - I just don't keep the facts as good as I used to. But I do keep track of what I catch, on what and when. I am more concerned with seasonal patterns and lure presentations than the little stuff. I also observe the weather patterns more than I used to. But, I am sure I could benefit from more accurate record keeping, as could all fishermen.
For the basics, we should all keep a simple note pad or record book either in the boat, afield or even at home. Filling in the info should be done as soon as you come off the water, or, clean your fish. Leaving stuff to memory doesn't always work for me - can I get an "Amen" for that? I would suggest that items like when, where, specie, water depth and temperature, weather conditions and bait or lures be the starting points. You can expand from there. Things like who was in the party, lure color (an important aspect, at times) brand names of lures or lines, and more can be added. As with any good trout angler, they will take at least a mental note of surrounding insect activity and wind direction. Oncoming cold fronts and cloud cover can greatly influence fishing success, so it pays to note these as well.
My 'short-cut' record keeping efforts for the past several years have been to simply write down, on a wall calendar, the date, where and what I caught. I take several hundred photos a year and this helps also in a record keeping venue. For instance, I was surprised to find out when I tallied it all up, that I had caught 2129 fish of all species in 2012. Of that 410 were largemouth bass, with ten fish over five pounds - not bad for a guy who has been labeled a "burnt-out bluegill fisherman." Of the total, however, were 1699 bluegills and crappies, or a 77 percent panfish haul on the year. This expresses my true colors.
So, the bottom line is this: you will always benefit from record keeping of your catches, regardless of your depth of accuracy and info. It gives you a good, solid seasonal base on fish behavior and patterns for the coming year, realizing that every year can be different from the next.