Though math isn’t my strong suit, I am very much a numbers person.
But, for whatever reason, I have struggled to keep a complete hunting and fishing journal over the course of a calendar year. In 2020, I finally accomplished that feat.
If you are passionate about the outdoors, I strongly recommend you make time for keeping a journal or log. I’ll even help you get started.
Before turning the page to 2021, I wanted to share some of the more interesting numbers that came out of my record keeping.
166 – Outdoors trips
In total, I spent 346 hours partaking in outdoor activities this year. Fishing was, more often than not, my activity of choice, encompassing 133 of my 166 trips. I ventured out on 26 hunting trips and seven dip netting outings.
502 – Fish caught
Averaging just under four fish per trip, I was able to catch more than half a thousand water-dwelling critters this year. I pulled in 17 different species from 12 different bodies of water across four counties here in Wisconsin.
Fish No. 500 came on Nov. 10. If you so wish, you can read the story behind that trip here.
Smallmouth bass made up the lion’s share of my total, 357 of my fish this year were smallies. Rock bass were the second-most popular fish to end up on my hook. I hauled in 37 during the open water season.
A complete breakdown of my 2020 catches, by species, is below.
24 – Ducks our group shot on my best hunt of the year
A four-person limit in just over two hours is, by far, the most productive waterfowl hunt I have ever been on. As I have mentioned many times and in many places, being able to share this adventure with two first-time duck hunters made it even more special.
10(th) – Highest finish in a bass fishing tournament
I tried my hand at tournament bass fishing for the first time in 2020. I fished my first online event through Lucky Go Fishing in mid-September.
During the one-day event, I landed 35 fish, including 26 smallmouth bass. I placed 10th out of 30 anglers in my region with the combined length of my top-5 bass measuring out at 51.25 inches.
15 – Suckers caught dip netting
With all of the craziness going on in the world, I was late to the dip netting game this season. The sucker run was nearly over when I went out for the first time in mid-to-late April, but I still managed to find a few fish well into May.
Fifteen is certainly not an impressive number. On your steady nights, you can manage that in a few pulls. But I’m just thrilled I was even able to go this year and I wanted something in this recap to reflect that.
67.5 – Best combined length, in inches, of my top-5 bass in a tournament
A couple of weeks after my first online bass tournament, I fished a weekend-long event with Lucky Go Fishing.
Over the course of the three days, I caught 216 fish (all from shore). My top-five bass scored out at 67.5 inches, 16.25 inches longer than my top-five from the first tournament. I finished 73rd out of 180 anglers in my region.
4 – Deer harvested in 24 hours of our group’s annual deer drive
The last weekend of each gun deer season is reserved for a series of deer drives with my friends that has since been named “The Big Push.”
We generally enjoy success during these outings but this year brought one of the best harvests I can recall. In roughly 24 hours, we put for does on the ground and everyone went home with some venison.
98.6 – Percent of fish I caught that were released
I’m certainly not here to shame anyone who wants to bring home their legal allotment of fish. But I am very proud of the fact that nearly 99 of every 100 fish I catch go right back into the waters they came from.
I kept seven fish for the table this year, three rainbow trout, king salmon, a lake trout, and two walleye.
19 – Length, in inches, of the biggest smallmouth bass I caught this year
This fish (pictured above) was one of the highlights of my year. In fact, there’s a complete chapter about it in my upcoming book (shameless self-promotion).
It was early September and I was fishing one of my most consistent spots on the Sheboygan River. I hooked into, what I thought was, a carp. It ended up being the longest smallmouth bass of my life.
I have caught hundreds of smallies in this spot throughout the years, but nothing that ever would have led me to believe something of this stature was swimming around.