For many years fishermen along the coast of both sides of the ocean and the Gulf have known that the best days and times to fish are at high or low tides along with Moon Phases, and other information that can be taken from high-tech instruments and weather stations that are located miles out on the ocean or from Lunar Calendars bought at the tackle store. What is the best Moon Phase for Fishing?
Most Saltwater fishermen agree the best fishing in a Moon Phase is a few days leading up to a New Moon and 2 or more days after. With a Full Moon, it’s 3 or 4 days leading up to the Full Moon Including the day of the Full Moon. Fishing under a full moon is debatable and based on other variables.
Most anglers understand the best fishing time is when the fish are feeding. This tends to be during dawn and dusk, but what often goes beyond that and includes the two periods elsewhere in the day, which are moonrise and moonset. These are important because Moon Phases also have a huge effect on a variety of factors working with tides when they can trigger a fish’s feeding pattern during these lunar periods.
What Is a Moon Phase
We have a slightly different view of the Moon each night. We describe how the Moon looks with the eight Moon phases or shapes. Simply by looking at the sky you will see that the moon will change shapes every night. You might even see the moon during the night.
The moon is a dark-colored rock that hangs in space but looks bright because the sun is shining on it and reflecting back to the earth. Half the moon is always sitting in the sun because it is shaped like a ball just like the earth.
We call the part that faces the sun the bright side of daylight and the part facing away the dark side or night. The Phase of the moon refers to the shape that the moon appears to us here on earth. If you are facing the moon with the sun behind you are seeing the half of the moon that is illuminated by the sun. This is called a Full-Moon.
If you are off to the side you will see half of the bright and half of the dark side of the moon. This is called a Half-Moon. If the sun is on the other side of the moon then you will only see Dark. This is always from a position and angle we see it from here on earth. So the Moon is always half-bright or Day and half-dark or Night.
The Moon orbits the Earth just about once per month. This how long it takes the Moon to go through all its Phases which is 29 and one-half days. The Phases of the Moon start at:
🌑 New– this moon is between us and the sun so it looks to us like the darkest Phase.
🌒 Waxing Crescent-as the Moon moves in orbit around the Earth we start to see more of the light of the sun that was being covered at New Moon
🌓 First Quarter– after 7 days the Moon is 1/4 around its orbit. We will be looking straight down the Terminator Line that divides the moon in half or day to night
🌔 Waxing Gibbous– is the Half-Moon that rises in the late afternoon and is visible for most of the night.
🌕 Full-2 weeks after New Moon comes Full Noon. The Moon is halfway through its orbit. It’s the opposite of the sun so it rises at sunset and sets at sunrise.
🌖 Waning Gibbous-In this Pase the bright side of the moon starts to shrink and starts to reverse all the Phasing to reach the Full Moon.
🌗 Third Quarter-A week after Full Moon, the Moon reaches its 3rd Quarter. The side of the Moon that was lit is now dark and the dark side is bright. It will rise at midnite and set at noon.
🌘 Waning Crescent-As the Moon’s light starts to shrink, the Moon will rise just before sunrise and set at sunset.
Moon Phases and Fishing
A lot of fishermen have heard about the science of fishing and chasing the Full-Moon to catch big Pretedor fish on and off the high tide and swear by it. The moon directly affects the Tides and Currents which directly affect a fish’s behavior. The Moon affects Tides by its Gravitational Pull along with the help of the sun and the earth. When the moon and the sun are on the same side of the Earth or on the opposite sides of the earth they create the strongest pull on the Ocean tides. This can also affect the currents in the ocean
There are some theories that because these strong gravitational pulls create more energy they make the ocean a harder environment to live in using up more energy from the fish that live in it. Because of this fish-eating habits change and increase and create better fishing opportunities. What is observed by most fishermen is a few days before and after a Full-Moon and New Moon is the best time for fishing not so much on the night of the Full-Moon as most people think.
Still what is especially true is that fishing although not 100 % certain will always be better on Ocean Surf water 2 hours before and up to 2 hours after high tide, where predator fish use those times as the best opportunities for eating in more shallow water where Baitfish are located hiding.
Each one of the Phases of the Moon especially a few days before and after the New Moon and Full Moon can affect the energy of the tides and currents that can greatly affect the fish. The New and Old Moon has the largest pull will affect the currents in the ocean water. During the rest of the cycle, Moon Phases lose some of that energy that is provided by stronger gravitational pulls. The harder the gravities pull, the more increased water is involved with the movement of the ocean’s currents and tides making them faster and higher.
In this Tide Chart, which is my closest area of the ocean you can compare the size of the tide to the Phase of the Moon. The depth of water at low and high tide at which Phase and the difference between the levels of ocean water.
Full Moon Fishing Good Or Bad
There is a lot of scientific evidence that uses Lunar Phases can be used in fresh and saltwater as a formula for successful fishing. Fishing moon phases can affect saltwater areas in a few different ways than Freshwater. The Moon affects the Tides and the tides and the tides affect the currents. The reason you get higher tides is that during a Full Moon and a New Moon is because during this time the Earth-Sun and Moon are directly lined up together.
The Sun and Moon gravitational pulls combined create huge tides in the ocean. Once the Moon starts to orbit and moves into a different orientation the Sun and the Moon start to compete for that the tide. The Sun is about 1/3 and the Moon is about 2/3 gravitational pull.
- Most Saltwater and Freshwater fishermen agree the best fishing being a few days leading up to a New Moon and 2 days after.
- With a Full Moon 3 or 4 days leading up to the Full Moon Including the Full Moon as the very best time. Then again Full Moon is a debatable topic on ocean fishing. After that any place in the cycle is ok.
There are a few reasons that fishing at the time after a Full Moon is that predator fish will take advantage of the light of the Full Moon and be overfed or gorged themselves using the added sense of sight that is less likely with the darkness of a New Moon. Of course, this information is all based on past successful trips on the water and the species you are fishing for. It’s a standard formula just like a Tide which uses a few hours before high Tide and few hours after makes for the best fishing.
The science is based on first, a Full or New Moon shines more light on the water at night, which can affect the feeding patterns of fish since it’s easier for them to see and feed. And during a full or new moon, the saltwater tides are stronger, and bigger due to the pull of gravity. Stronger currents will mean more active baitfish and other prey making for optimal fishing tide times. Then the Predators expend more energy making them hungrier because of the activity.
Starting with a few days before and after a Full Moon Predator fish in Freshwater Fishing will see in deeper water because the water will be brighter down from the surface. Fish that have to see to feed at the surface at night. During the day, UV light is able to penetrate deeper in the middle of the day were as at night they will have to depend on moonlight. So most of the feeding activity is happening in the upper column during the moonlit nights.
The only problem is by the next morning that they have been gorged during this Full Moon time feeding. In the case of a New Moon, fresh and saltwater fish will have to use other senses to hunt prey whether by scent or hearing. Knowing this will help you make decisions on which tackle or bait to use. So in the darkness of a New Moon fish might tend to hit on live bait rather than using lure on top of the water.
Solunar Fishing Calendar
The Solunar Theory is the hypothesis that all fish and animals move towards the location of the moon. Made for Hunter and Fishermen, the Solunar Fishing Calendar was created by John Alden Knight in 1926. Knight put together folklore and fishing factors using the sun and the moon hence calling it the Solunar Theory. He compiled a list of behavior patterns of fresh and saltwater fish and used 3 main factors the
Saltwater fishing Tides have always been believed to be the main factor in fish’s behavior. Knight discovered the relationship between the three factors position in the day and night and how they affected each other.
Knight published the first Solunar table in 1936. Solunar Tables are used by Hunters and Fisherman to determine the best days of the month and times of the day for catching fish and hunting game.
Knowing sunrise and sunset and the time of the tides help with better success. Hunters use the alignment of the sun and the moon determines when the game will be moving the most. Fish, game, and even birds will move and be more active during Solunar times than any other time of the day.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac keeps a list of the best fishing days in various areas of the United States that is based almost solely on Moon Phases. And while the fish moon phase has an effect, if you really want to get the big ones you need to know which phases affect which fish.
Known as Moon-Phase Fishing, this type of planning is broken into Major and Minor periods. Major periods occur when the moon is directly overhead or directly below your specific reference latitude. Minors occur when it is at 90 degrees to either side
JimGalloway/Author and Editor