OKC angler has been journaling more than 50 years
Tom Friedemann can tell you all the details about that nearly 2-pound bass he caught on April 9, 1963, from a Payne County farm pond.
He can tell you all about the 39-inch northern pike he caught on a fly rod from Black Sturgeon Lake in Ontario, Canada, on May 30, 1995. And the 20-inch brown trout on Feb. 1, 2006, on Argentina’s Alumine River.
And the 22-inch rainbow trout from Red River, New Mexico, on Sept. 29, 2017. The 6-pound bass from an Alfalfa County farm pond on April 29, 1972. The 27-inch carp from Oklahoma City’s Lake Hefner on April 2, 2005.
The 71-year-old Oklahoma City angler can tell you all the details about the 814 other fish he has caught: the dates, the fisheries, the weather conditions, the water clarity, the lures used, the rods and reels used, the weight of the test lines and more.
Friedemann knows each fact because he has written it all down. He has journaled about almost every fish he has caught since that bass he landed as a 14-year-old boy on April 9, 1963.
That day, he was standing on the dam of the Payne County pond, casting into a north wind into crystal, clear water, using a Martin Fly Plug tied on 6-pound test line spooled to a Mitchell 304 spincasting reel. The bass weighed 1¾ pounds. He knows this because it is recorded in one of eight volumes of fishing journals.
It’s a lifetime of fishing knowledge and memories.
Friedemann, who recently retired as chief executive officer and superintendent of the Francis Tuttle Technology Center, caught the fishing fever while growing up on a farm in Payne County. He read everything about fishing that he could.
“I had subscriptions to Outdoor Life, Field and Stream, Sports Afield all at the same time,” he said.
It was a magazine article by Sam Welch, who was dubbed Mr. Bass on Arkansas’ Bull Shoals Lake, that Friedemann read that began his lifelong journey of journaling. Welch wrote how journaling the details of catches can help ensure future fishing success.
Friedemann said it’s proven to work about half the time, like on the fishing trip earlier this month to his father’s Payne County farm pond. A check of Friedemann’s journals showed it was 20 years ago when he last fished the pond and it was so full of water. That day 20 years ago, the bass were hitting Dahlberg Divers with regularity.
Friedemann made sure to get some of the top-water pattern flies before heading north for a morning of tube fishing.
“It did the trick,” Friedemann said. “They were just drilling those things. It doesn’t always work, but it did that day.”
He’s picked up other trends from his journals, such as he always catches more fish when there is a prevailing south wind. Ponds with lily pads and coontail grass produce well. Fish bite more immediately before a cold front.
He doesn’t write about every fish. Mostly bass, and it must be at least a pound and a half before puts it in a notebook. But he does journal about every fish on the end of his line that has made him feel special, like the first fish he finally caught at Lake Overholser on May 17, 2015.
“I never catch anything on Overholser,” Friedemann said. “I caught a 15-inch white bass out there and I logged that sucker, because I couldn’t catch anything there. That fish made me really happy.”
As a younger man, Friedemann did a lot of spincasting, but he has used a fly rod exclusively for the past 27 years since watching the movie “A River Runs Through It.”
“I went cold turkey,” he said. “I converted overnight.”
Each February and March, when Friedemann starts getting the spring fishing fever, he pulls out the journals to read and begin planning a strategy. He has eight volumes now and even organizes the information in categories such as fisheries, lures, size of fish, months and what he calls his gratifying log, those fish like the Overholser white bass that really made him happy.
He sets goals for himself, like catching a smallmouth on Lake Murray and a 3-pound walleye from Lake Hefner on a fly. He will spend between 30 minutes or two hours recording the details after a day of fishing, depending on how successful it was. He has spent more than 1,000 hours in his lifetime keeping a fishing journal.
“It expands the fishing experience as much as anything,” he said. “I can’t imagine going fishing and even thinking about not journaling it.”
Friedemann started keeping a journal to help him catch more fish, but over the years he’s gotten as much joy from the memories the journals bring back. He also journals about his fishing companions on those trips with friends and family.
“The reminiscing is probably more important,” he said. “It’s just fun to relive those memories.”
Tom Friedemann's favorite fishing flies
Oklahoma City angler Tom Friedemann keeps a journal of all bass he has caught weighing at least a pound and a half. He has caught more bass on these fishing flies than any others.
1. Pistol Pete: “This is a fly primarily used for trout and panfish, but I tie a much bigger version of it for bass on a No. 2 hook. Best color is orange and chrome."
2. Clouser Deep Minnow: Best color is chartreuse and orange.
3. Dahlberg Diver: Best color is Fire Tiger.
4. Roadrunner Jig Streamer: "This is pattern that my cousin and I designed and developed especially for bass that gets down really deep, especially with a sinking head line. We buy 1/32 oz. round head jigs with a spinner attached to the bottom from Bass Pro Shops and replace the very small spinner blade with an oversized willow leaf blade, and then tie white or crystal flashabou to it. Makes a great baitfish imitation, kind of like a flyfishers spinnerbait. Best color is all white."