The Great Moon Phase Debate
Does the New and Full moon REALLY affect freshwater fishing?
The moon phase debate among fisherman is likely to be the least agreed upon affect on freshwater game fish out there. Some fishermen swear by it. Other fishermen will say the moon phase has some kind effect on freshwater fish but probably not much. Very few fishermen will ever be able to give concrete evidence of any major effect the moon phases have on fishing. There are many widely varying opinions and views on this subject, and practically no way to prove the effect the moon has on freshwater fishing. So how is it that is it that the solunar calendar is likely to be the most talked about and published piece of fishing information you can find? Solunar tables and predicted fishing times can be found in every fishing magazine, web site, and marinas around the world, so there must be something to it right?
It is with these questions and the pursuit of perfect fishing science that we started to pursue "The Great Moon Phase Study". Many years of research and countless hours on the water, fishing many different species, we have found out...... well, nothing concrete that would win any debates. And yes it was all in the name of science, it had nothing to do with the desire to be on the lake, in a relatively small boat, which has more horsepower than probably needed, going very very fast, being away from the office, enjoying the great outdoors like it was meant to be enjoyed... ok maybe that had something to do with also. Even though we can't offer concrete evidence, we have formed some opinions here at fishingnotes.com that may come in handy for you next fishing trip.
Let's start with the basics. The most intense solunar period is during the new moon. It's the new moon that has both the sun and moon gravity pulling in the same direction (i.e. sun and moon are on the same side of earth tugging our planet. During new and full moon periods ocean tides are approximately 20% higher than other times. Peak(Major) fishing/feeding times on solunar calendars is the time when the moon is directly overhead and underfoot and have approximately 2 hour period that it is at its greatest affect. When you navigate to your lake at fishingnotes.com, you can find the predicted peak feeding times. Minor fishing/feeding times based on moon/sun location are at moon rise and moon set. Did you know that the sun has around one half of the gravitation affect on the tides than the moon?
So what is our take on this moon phase hoopla, and how does it affect our fishing?
If you ask most big game hunters they will tell you the peak solunar times when it comes to big game truly affect their feeding and activity periods increase. Most marinas across the country host a number of fishing stories by the locals. Some of these stories are folks that absolutely swear that the biggest fish are most active during the times of the best moon. They remember catching the big bass on that full moon. The very next day going out and catching 80 stringer crappie. Then again are many fishermen out there that absolutely don't think there is an effect on freshwater fishing like there is on saltwater. The typical reason for the doubt is that most inland freshwater lakes are not affected by tides, and the currents lake are not affected by tide charts. Many nursing professionals and emergency room doctors will tell you that the amount of animal related hospital visits goes up substantially around the time of full and new moon, but especially full moons. Many institution workers feel that during full moons the mood and activity on the mentally ill is affected greatly. Does all of this mean that the moon really has an effect on animals and people, or is everyone watching out for this type of behavior more during those times, which will in turn force them to remember more vividly what happened on those days and nights? No way to answer that one just thought it should be thrown out there. So if the moon affects animals and humans in some small degree, why wouldn't the moon phase have the same affect on our freshwater game fish? Many fishermen, including some local guides and tournament pros, swear the moon phase and peak solunar fishing time simply will not affect the quantity or quality of fish you catch and if you take time to follow the peak solunar times, it's a waste. But are they really paying attention to catches and catch times? Most fisherman are just out fishing, enjoying the day, and don't really take into account when the solunar fishing time is.
Most freshwater fisherman will generally agree on the affects of sunlight, wind direction, barometric pressure, water temperature and other deciding factors have a huge affect on fishing and how the day will go on the lake. If you are fishing a sunny high pressure day, there are certain things you do to increase your chance you are going to stick some fish. When the pressure starts dropping and clouds start rolling in, everyone knows it's time to switch it up. You re-tie, and most likely will move to a different part of your lake because the conditions are ripe for the catch on a different pattern. Do you think if we paid attention to the solunar peak fishing times, maybe we should change our strategies in the same way as a weather shift to increase our chance? Most, including myself before starting to really dig into this topic, do not track the peak midday fishing times. It's a sunny high pressure day in July, the next low pressure front and break from the heat seems like its weeks away, most will stay on a specific pattern for the day, typically vary presentations, but overall stay on a pattern. The bass fisherman will move the bait a slower and fish specific areas. The fish are huddled into the thickest nastiest areas of the lake or in deep water and won't break lose to bite anything, we typically fish nice and slow, covering water methodically and not venture out to other areas that we are sure are not holding fish that day. However, if the peak times affect other animals at the peak times, wouldn't it affect fish in the same way? I have occasionally found that when fishing a tough day, I will switch up tactics on the peak solunar hour, I will continue to concentrate fishing the same brush piles, thick weeds, or deep channel breaks, except I will switch up lures and speed of the retrieve for that hour of the day. Some days it really pays off. So once again, did I catch those fish because of the moon phase, or like many fish, just put the lure in the right place at the right time, or was I just off of the pattern for the day, did another small factor change during the day that I missed?
The amount of gravitational pull on a small freshwater lake probably doesn't affect the fishing as much as some think, but it must have some affect. All fishermen will agree that the absolute best time most of the season to fish is at sunrise and sunset. Is this because of the gravitational pull on the earth in any way, definitely not? Sunrise and sunset times typically see much more bait fish activity especially shad movement in shallow waters as they feed before they get out into deep water trenches, river channels and the main lake during the day. When the sun starts to come up, it's a perfect time for ambushing some grub for game fish. Does this feeding increase when you combine the sunrise and sunset times with the moonrise and moonset times which happen extremely close together during the new and full moons? At these times, increased baitfish activity, and a general consensus among those who believe in the moon phase affect on fishing that larger fish are going to move and feed more. The next time you are at the lake during new and full moons, maybe try some larger baits. Possibly throwing extra large swim bait on the same pattern that works for smaller fish you can tie into a monster. You never know until you try right?
Well I guess I can't write an article like this without giving some kind of definitive opinion, so here goes. When it comes to the full and new moon and fishing, I absolutely believe there is something to it. When coupled with the perfect fishing day, barometric pressure falling slightly, cloudy, outside air temperature and water temperature close together and around 68Deg, wind out of the southwest on my home lake, the moon phase can be the icing on the cake. When you combine the absolute of the perfect fishing day with a new or full moon, it can turn a great day of fishing into an incredible day of fishing. The affect of a new or full moon on freshwater fishing, when the other important factors are not prime, can make the peak times very important to watch out for. Fish, like every single animal on the planet, need to eat to survive. They can go quite some time without feeding aggressively, but they need to eat. If you are in the middle of weather patterns and fishing conditions aren't the best, the moon may be that key element that will get them moving and feed a little more aggressive for the short period of time during the day. But if you don't know when those times are, it's impossible to take advantage of them. Give it a shot for this year. Keep track of all of your catches in our database; catch tracker (fishingnotes.com). Navigate to you home lake, register for free, go to the catch tracker and start logging in your fish. See what it looks like after each season and at the end of the year. You will be amazed what it will show you on your fishing patterns and the key elements of your stringers. Use the opportunity you have the next time you are on the water to really concentrate on the moon phase. No matter what type of day you are having, we suggest throwing some different baits, and concentrate on a pattern that you think may produce a larger fish. During the peak fishing time, tie on a larger bait, an oversize spinner, a 14" worm, a super size swim bait. Spend an hour fishing in approximate locations that have caught you fish for the day, just get a little deeper and change up your retrieve, maybe try a little slower, or hestite more on the fall of the lure. It's true with most of our freshwater species that larger fish will typically be deeper than their small brothers and sisters. If you are catching whites, you've got to let a larger bait fall through the school to get down to the larger whites and large wipers at the bottom of the school. On the next few new and full moons, try some trophy fishing just for kicks, the worst thing that can happen is you zero over that hour of the day. The best thing that can happen, is all of this moon phase stuff has something to it, and you pick up the big fish of the month, year, or best yet, the fish of a lifetime.
Good luck out there everyone!!
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