Ever see those calendars with the fish symbols on them, supposedly indicating the
days of the month when the fish bite best? Ever wonder where they come up with that?
Take a close look at the best days and you will notice that they tend to occur at the
same time as full and new moons. And this is no coincidence, as those who log atmospheric
data in their catch records will notice that the phase of the moon can play an integral
role in the success of the trip.
So powerful is this influence between moon and fish activity that it has been found
that nearly two thirds of all IFGA record holding fish have been caught during full
and new moon periods. Experienced fishermen know this and can be found out in force
during these periods and it is why I include the current years' moon phases in the
Reference section of this website and why I also record the moon phase in all my logs.
But why? What possible connection can that oversized, pock-marked rock in the sky have
on the fish down here? The reasons are what we'll focus on in this article.
You usually only hear the
term "astronomically high tide" when an ocean storm is due. However, the truth is
we have astronomically high tides twice every month - you guessed it - during the full
and new moon phases. In fact, the whole reason we have tides in the first place is
because of the moon. You see, although earth is much larger and has the far greater
gravitational pull (keeping the moon where it is), the moon also has it's own gravitational
pull on the earth and results in the constant raising and lowering of water levels
depending upon the part of the earth that faces the moon. The part of the earth facing
the moon (as well as exact opposite location facing away from the moon) experience
simultaneous high tides, and the parts of the earth at right angles to the moon
experience simultaneous low tides. Because it takes the moon 12 hours and 25 minutes
to move from overhead one location on earth to a position on the opposite side, we
experience a high tide at that frequency. The halfway point (6 hours and 12.5 minutes)
is when we experience low tide. When the sun gets involved and becomes in the
same line as the moon with the earth in the middle (full phase) or opposite when the moon
moon is not blocked by the earth (new phase), the increased gravitational pull from
the sun gives us astronomically high tides.
Increased Feeding Activity
While all this talk of the moon phases
and tidal flow may be interesting, I realize they don't answer the critical question
of why any of it matters to the fish. Theories abound, but there is no question that
this stronger gravitational pull results in increased feeding activity among all fish.
When considering saltwater, it is easier to understand as the stronger tides create
stronger currents which push baitfish around and make it tougher for them to fight
the current and stay put in safe locations away from predators. In freshwater, it
appears to influence insect activity, although no one knows why for sure. One theory
I heard years back was one called the "Predator Overload Principle." This theory stated
that during periods of high water, larger spawning fish would seek out shallow areas
to deposit their eggs and for the next two weeks (as the tides were much lower) predator
fish would not be able to consume either eggs or hatchlings because the water would be
to shallow. This ensured such a large hatch, that when the water became deep enough
to enter, the predator fish would be faced with such numbers of prey that they couldn't
possibly devour them all. Interesting theory, but again doesn't explain why freshwater
is affected as well.
So, what's this all mean?
Well, for me, I would recommend trying to schedule your fishing times during full
and new moon periods. Note the conditions (sunlight, temperature, barometer, etc.)
and on the days when conditions are fairly equal but the moon phases is opposite,
log your success. If you come to the same conclusions as millions of angers already
have, you will have added another weapon to your arsenal and become an even better
fisherman for it.
Below here you will find
a picture I made to illustrate how the phases occur. Notice the position of the sun,
earth, and moon. The outer ring of moons shows you the orbit of the moon and how at
full phase the lit side is in front for everyone to see (remember, the earth rotates
completely in 24 hours), and at the new moon phase, the dark side of the moon is in
front for eveyone to see. The inner ring shows you how the moon appears to us in the
sky. After a full moon (heading up) the moon wanes until it is invisible and then
a "new" moon occurs and waxes (heading down) until it is full again. The halfway points
are called quarter moons, because we are actually only seeing one quarter of the entire
moon. The top most moon in my illustration is considered the "last" quarter and the
moon at the bottom of the illustration is considered the "first" quarter. Moons that
show greater than half of a circle are called gibbous moons and moons that
show less than half of a circle are called crescent moons. It takes approximately
29-1/2 days to complete the cycle from new moon to the next new moon.