The act of fishing is for most of us a learning experience. We go fishing and almost inevitably reflect upon the outing.
If we don't think about every session then we do recall the successful outings. They are the ones that draw us to repeat the experience again, and again. In practice what we do is to reflect upon the good times and explore what we did and how we would do the same again to experience it all over. Yet having gone to the same swims and used the same methods later we don't have the same success. At this point we 'put it down to experience' and try another water or swim or method or bait the next time.
In practice we often don't learn as much as we might from the experience. In practice we develop a set of methods and use baits and fish waters and swims that 'usually' succeed. Occasionally we branch out onto another bait or method or water when the word is put out that such and such is catching them or get into the hot-spot swim where a big fish was caught a fortnight ago. It's human nature after all.
But, we could learn a lot from those Sessions where we blank and don't catch anything. By simply recalling those exact circumstances of weather, bait, method or swim we can learn not to repeat the same combinations. We can try somewhere else or try where you first thought of, but be prepared to be disappointed and learn from it.
The obvious learning tool is to keep a record of your fishing. Especially when you weren't successful, because we learn as much from not catching as from catching. By reflecting upon our experience in these circumstances we will start to question what went wrong. The natural extension of this is to experiment and try something else. Say, another method, or bait for example.
To Illustrate the Point
You had decided to go fishing this Saturday coming. You have your heart set on a Swim that did well last year in the same month. You prepare for it and arrive at the Water really early. Your swim is free and you move in. You bivvy-up and are soon fishing. But the Session is a blank. What went wrong? You used the same bait. You fished as near as damn-it the same marks. You used the same rigs. Why didn't they show?
Well, lets consider all the things that were different from the session last year, assuming you had kept a record. Actually, you fished two marks last year whereas this time round you focused on what you remembered (wrongly) was the most successful one. Last year the temperature was 18 degrees centigrade and had been stable for 8 days and there had been a light breeze from the West for most of the day. The fish (a 15lb and 18.5lb) were caught at 21:05 and 23:15 that day. This time the breeze was stronger and blowing from the east at 15 degrees centigrade. Perhaps the weather had something to do with it? The moon-phase was different? The fish were focused on another bait flavour? And so on. It's only by recording and then learning and adapting to this experience that we improve our chances.
Another Example to Illustrate the Point
You are planning another visit to a swim you were successful in earlier in the season. You remember a couple of good fish were caught and there is a general impression formed by those captures that the swim was good to you the last time. But then you go to your records on the Anglers Database and find that the swim did produce two good fish on one session but you fished it on three other occasions over the last two years and you only managed two other fish. Until earlier this season this swim was a hard one for you. At this point you start to compare the sessions. By looking at the information you captured about the sessions there are two potential reasons why the last time you were successful, the bait - you used a different bait from the other sessions as you tended to use only one bait last year. In addition the water Temperature - it was warmer earlier this year than when you fished the Swim last year. Maybe you should use the same bait and see if it really is that or mix the baits you are using to see whether one performs better than another? Also, let's keep an eye on the temperature and the weather just in case this influences the next session. Lastly, if the swim is occupied when I get to the water, what other swims have I fished (or not) so I have an alternative or three in mind?
With the above reasoning you have a plan from which you will be able to draw learnings and add to your experience with. This is often how the more successful anglers approach their craft - through thought and experiment. The Anglers Database is the perfect tool for adopting this considered approach to angling.