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We all know that the Moon has an effect on the tidal systems of our oceans but does it influence fish activity? And might it be better or worse to fish during full moon tides?
To straighten things out and answer some of your questions on full moon fishing we’ve put together this handy guide, so you can hopefully increase your catch rate on your next fishing trip.
Is It Better To Fish During A Full Moon?
There are four phases of the lunar calendar: new moon; first quarter moon (or half moon); full moon; and third quarter moon (or last quarter moon). These phases of the moon affect the ocean tides here on Earth, which can in turn affect your fishing game and fish behavior.
The gravitational pull of the sun and the moon result in both a high and low tide. There are two high tides and two low tides each day. During both new moons and full moons, the tides are known as spring tides, which can mean they’re at their highest. This can also mean the fish are at their most active.
There are also major and minor periods during these phases (and during all four phases). These periods can be better for fishing, as the fish tend to be more active during these times.
The major periods occur when the moon is directly overhead or directly underneath – lunar transit and opposing lunar transit – and form part of the solunar fishing theory. This happens twice in a 24 hour period and occurs for around two hours each time.
The minor stages last for around an hour and happen when the moon is both rising and setting (which also happens twice in a 24 hour period). A farmer’s almanac and other sites can often provide information on the moon and tidal flow.
Depending on where you are geographically located, there are generally two high tides and two low tides each day, in roughly a 24 hour period.
When the Earth is facing the Moon it pulls the oceans towards it. But at the same time, on the opposite side of the Earth, the same thing is happening due to the combination of the Moon’s gravitational pull and the centrifugal force from both of them spinning.
The high tides generally happen every 12 and a half hours. But there are also higher and lower tides that happen roughly twice a month – or twice in each full rotation of the Moon around the Earth.
It can be better to fish during the times when the tide is moving either in or out, as the fish may be moving with the tide. This can be particularly useful if you plan to fish in estuaries or bays where the tides can be more noticeable.
When these tides occur, both the high and low tides cause higher than average tides because the Sun, the Moon and the Earth are in a line, so this would be during both a full and new moon. The high tides will generally be even higher when the moon is at its closest point to Earth – around once a month.
Video Tutorial: Spring And Neap Tides
The tides during the first and third quarter are known as neap tides and aren’t as high. This is when half the moon is visible and the other half is in the shadow of the Earth.
With the highest and lowest tides during a full moon and new moon, the water movement is higher which could create better fishing, as it could mean that fish get pushed closer to the shallows with the stronger currents.
This is when the greatest tidal currents occur, which could be a good time to go fishing. During a neap tide, the water may not move as much, as there is less pull from the moon.
During Full Moon
Although a full moon can mean stronger movement of the water and higher tides, it may not always be a lucrative fishing time, depending on the type of fish you plan to catch.
This is because some research has shown that certain fish, including some tuna and swordfish, may swim deeper during a full moon to avoid the light, which could mean night fishing is less successful. Dark nights might be better for targeting these saltwater game fish than bright moonlight, or fishing in the days before a full moon.
Other fish, such as billfish and blue marlin, however, may remain closer to the surface. On the other hand, some anglers may say that the best time for fishing is in the few days leading up to a full moon or the few days after a new moon.
On the other hand, some fish like crappie may be more active during a full moon because of the brightness, which could make them easier to catch. It can also mean that there might be an increase in certain insect activity which can be a good feeding time for some fish, and therefore could be a good time for fishing.
It can be a good idea to check your particular location and the specific fish you want to target to see if they are more likely to be active during certain phases of the moon or times of day. This can help you identify. the best fishing times for your location and make sure that you and your target fish are on the same page.
Day Fishing During A Full Moon
Fishing during the day when there’s a full moon might be better for catching fish than fishing at night. But this may only be true for some fish and there’s no empirical evidence that a full moon is the best time to catch all fish.
For example, you could utilize the major and minor phases during the day of a full moon without having to go out fishing at night.
The major period during sunrise and sunset tends to be when the sun is at its highest position. During the equinox (both in spring and fall) when the days and nights are the same length as each other, it might be easier to calculate when the sun is at its highest. This is generally at noon during both equinoxes.
Fishing when the sun is at its highest point during a full lunar phase will generally mean the moon is directly below you. This could be a great time to fish as the fish will tend to be most active during this major period and could mean some of the best fishing days. This can be useful if you want to avoid fishing at night.
To fish in a minor period, dusk and dawn can be good times as this is when the moon will often be in its rising and setting mode, so it’s only half dark and not the full light of an actual day.
However, in other moon phases, such as the first and last quarter, the moon can often rise and set during daylight hours, which are still considered minor periods and good for fishing. But these phases of the moon cycle may not be the optimal times to fish.
You may find that most fish tend to be actively feeding during minor stages, when the moon is rising or setting. For major periods, you might find that the fish are most active up to a couple of hours after the peak of that period.
So for daytime fishing on a full moon phase, this could be in the immediate hours after the sun is right above you.
If you plan to catch freshwater fish, such as bass and bluegill species, you might find that the full moon has less of an effect. The tidal changes and gravitational pull of the moon affects small lakes and rivers less. This is generally because there is much less water to move so a high tide won’t really exist.
You may find that the weather and seasons are more likely to affect your fishing success than the phases of the moon.
A 2010 study into the effects of the moon phases on largemouth bass showed that there was very little difference between fishing during all four of the moon’s phases, with only a minimal percentage increase for bass fishing during a full moon compared to the new moon, first quarter and third quarter phases.
Because of the moon’s effect on the tides, you would expect there to be a major effect on your fishing success rate. And in a lot of cases, this can often be true.
For example, in the intracoastal waters and lagoons on the Florida coast, the moon phases and tides can be more important and the higher tides can mean bigger fish come closer to the shallows and the shore.
However, not everywhere is the same and you might find that it makes no difference what phase the moon is in or what the tide is doing, as your success with catching big fish may vary depending on the region or the weather, or both.
Now that you know a little more about tides and the effects of the lunar phases, you may be able to work out when the best time for fishing might be in your local area.
While the tides may be more likely to affect the fish than a full moon, it can be a good idea to keep a record of the moon written down for yourself so you can pay attention to the different conditions.
This can show you when the big fish are biting and what phase the moon is in when they do so that you can organize the best fishing days around your own records. This can also show you whether the moon phases affect the fish in your area or not.
Have you had more success at a full moon period than other times? Leave us a comment and let us know what your thoughts are of fishing at the right moon phase. And if you want to help out your friends, share this with them.