Have you ever heard that it’s better to fish during a full moon? But is that true? There are many opinions among anglers on whether the moon’s phase can affect a fish’s behaviour or not. Fishing during a full moon has to be the most debated topic among anglers. Some anglers swear by it, while other anglers cringe just hearing about it. So this begs the question, is fishing during a full moon worth it?
You can very likely catch more fish during some parts of the lunar cycle than others. The tides affect fish behaviour and make it easier to catch them around the time of a full moon. The time of the day also matters because of the position of the moon.
There is much more to know about how the moon affects fishing. The full moon isn’t the only good time to fish. The moon and the tides affect fish behaviour in many different ways, so you need to adjust your strategy to the moon’s phases.
How to Find the Best Times to go Fishing During a Full Moon
Fishing is best during certain days of the month and during certain times of the day. This is because of how the moon affects the tides and how the tides affect fish behaviour.
While some species seem to be unaffected, other species are more active during certain parts of the moon cycle. If you fish during a full moon or the last few days before it, you may notice that the fish are much more active than usual.
If you are lucky, you might do incredibly well the first time you try fishing on a full moon, but you might be disappointed. A full moon seems to raise the odds of a far above average catch but not reduce the odds of a disappointing one.
You should go fishing during the right times of the day and the right times of the month. The right time of the day to go fishing is different at different parts of the moon cycle.
The best way to find out the right time of the day to fish is to look at an online fishing forecast that includes lunar cycles. The tides4fishing website lets you look up this information for your location.
If you enter your location and the date, you can see information such as:
- Very high activity from 5:41 am to 7:41 am (opposing lunar transit)
- Very high activity from 5:49 pm to 7:49 pm (lunar transit)
- High activity from 12:26 pm to 1:26 pm (moonrise)
“Lunar transit” means that the moon is directly above you. “Opposing lunar transit” means it is directly below you on the opposite side of the world. Fish are unusually active during these times, and fish are much easier to catch when they are active rather than sluggish.
The moonrise and moonset are also good times to fish, although the extra activity may not be as high and does not last for as long. To find out the best time to fish on a full moon day, look at the tides4fishing website or another online tool.
Some people believe that the moon cycles only affect saltwater fish because the tide doesn’t matter for a pond and hardly matters even for a large lake.
There is some evidence that the moon doesn’t matter in general in freshwater. However, I would not be surprised if the moon still affects freshwater fish.
We do not know very much about why the moon affects them, and it might not only be because of the tide. The light of the full moon might make some fish more active at night.
When to Fish According to the Farmer’s Almanac
According to the farmer’s almanac, the best times to fish might be:
- An hour before high tide or an hour before low tide
- Just after sunup, just before sundown, or just after sundown
- When the moon is rising or setting
- When a lot of flies are hatching
- When the water is still
How Does the Moon Affect Fishing?
Some people have always known that it is easier to catch fish at the right parts of the moon cycle. Certainly, there must have been people that knew this thousands or tens of thousands of years ago. Even with no books and little information, people could notice these patterns themselves.
Other people have always dismissed that the moon has much of an effect. While the moon does matter, some people will doubt it. Some people will be impressed if you mention solunar calendars; others will think it is hocus pocus.
Outdoorsman John Alden Knight came up with the first solunar fishing chart back in the 1920s. People still use similar charts to find the best times to fish today. A modern app is based on the same theories.
Major and Minor Lunar Periods
Each day, there are four periods where it is easiest to catch fish, two major lunar periods and two minor ones. The minor lunar periods are when the moon rises and sets. Fish are unusually active during the one-hour period when the moon is rising and setting.
Major lunar periods are when the moon is directly above your head or directly below your feet on the other side of the world. Fish are also unusually active during this time. You aren’t guaranteed to catch many fish during a lunar period, but it is easier.
It is easiest to find out when the moon is in the best position. All you need is a solunar chart. You can find out what phase the moon is in based on what day of the month it is.
After you find out the moon phase, you can determine when the lunar periods are and what time is best to fish. You do not have to have a physical chart – there are plenty of free apps that will tell you when to fish on any day of the month based on where the moon is.
Fishing is Best at Certain Moon Phases
Just as there are times of the day when fishing is easiest, there are also times of the month. Fish are the most active during the full moon and the new moon.
The tide is the biggest when the moon is either full or invisible, and a bigger tide makes the fish more active. The sun and the moon pull the sea in the same direction during a new moon, creating a strong tide.
During a full moon, the sun and the moon are on opposite sides of the earth. This also creates a strong tide, which makes fish more active.
Oddly, some people report that fishing is also good when the tides are the smallest. When the moon is halfway from a new moon to a full moon (first quarter) or halfway from a full moon back to a new moon (third quarter), the tide changes the least. Could this be a good time to fish also?
Many anglers insist that fishing when the tide is smallest is at least as good as fishing when the tide is largest. Not everyone agrees on what the best times are.
Combining fishing during the right times of the month with fishing during the right times of the day can get you incredible catches, not always but a lot of the time. Try fishing during a major lunar period on a full moon, and you might be amazed by how many fish you catch.
Should You Fish at Night During a Full Moon?
Some anglers love fishing at night on a full moon. Apparently, many fish take advantage of the moonlight to continue feeding much later than they usually do.
Night fishing when the sky is dark won’t work, as not many fish will be feeding with almost no light. Anglers disagree with each other on what times of the day/month are the best for fishing and how much it matters. Not much of this is known for sure; you may have to go by what works for you.
Are Solunar Calendars Scientifically Proven to Work?
How well these theories work is not yet well understood. There is not enough evidence to confirm or reject these theories.
However, we know enough about how the moon affects fish behaviour to say that these theories make scientific sense. The tides are known to affect fish behavior for sure, so there must be ways of using the moon phases to your advantage.
Tidal currents move nutrients around. Small fish feed on these nutrients, which attracts larger fish for you to catch. Some fish spawn with the tides or change their behaviour based on the tides in other ways.
While some scientific studies suggest that the moon phases make a difference, others do not. Early research by John Alden Knight in the 1920s found that people were much more likely to make very large catches during a new moon. People also caught the largest fish around this time.
Other research suggests that oysters open their shells during the high tides. They will adjust their behaviour to a new location after a couple of weeks. The high tides might affect fish in the same way.
Newer research by professor Mike Allen suggests that the lunar cycle has nothing to do with how easy it is to catch freshwater bass. Possibly, the moon matters less for freshwater fish.
Some species of fish might change their behaviour based on the moon; others might not. There is not enough information to know what species of fish are more active around the time of the full moon, the new moon, or any other time.
In my experience, both the monthly moon phases and the daily lunar periods matter. There are better times of the month and better times of the day to fish, with the day of the full moon and the last days before the full moon being the best days.
However, it might depend on what fish you are likely to catch in your area. The moon might not have any direct or indirect effect on many species. Even many types of saltwater fish might not be affected by the moon – for example, it does not affect catch rates for striped marlin.
Does the Moonrise and Moonset Matter When Fishing?
Yes, the moonrise and moonset matter because they are good times to catch fish. The moonrise and moonset are the minor lunar periods when fish are unusually active. They do not last as long as the major lunar periods do, but they are still great times to go fishing.
The Issues with Fishing During a Full Moon
Usually, fishing during a full moon is safe, but it might be dangerous sometimes. If you fish during a full moon, you fish when the tide changes the most.
A huge amount of water can move during the tide in some places. This can be a safety risk. You should be familiar with how much the water moves during the tide in your area first.
Other Major Factors That Affect Fish
While the moon cycles matter in my experience, other things are more important. Things like temperature and atmospheric pressure matter more.
If the weather turns cold, fish will become inactive and harder to catch. They will hide deep underwater to escape from the cold, which will affect the water near the surface first. They won’t be swimming around actively and looking for food in cold weather.
Atmospheric pressure also matters. Pressure in the air affects what fish in the water do and can increase or reduce their activity. Some fish are more sensitive to changes in pressure than others.
Scientists have always been interested in atmospheric pressure, in part because it helps them predict the weather. If the air pressure in an area is low, air from a high-pressure area will move into it. This allows meteorologists to predict where storms will travel and the temperature in an area in a few days.
Fishing is good when the air pressure is rising, whether it is already high or not. Fish are a lot more active when the barometric pressure is rising. This makes at least as much of a difference as the lunar cycles.
Falling barometric pressure is also good, even better than rising pressure. However, if the pressure is already low and no longer changing, you will have a poor experience. The sky tends to be clear if the pressure is high and cloudy or rainy if the pressure is low.
Tidal changes also matter. With some species, you can do better if the tide is high. When the tide moves out, many fish get trapped in bait pools, sometimes including larger fish.
When the tide is highest during the flood tide, large fish can move into normally shallow waters that they usually can’t access. This gives them an opportunity to feed on crustaceans that they cannot reach when the tide is low.
Temperature matters even more. Fish are sluggish and harder to catch if it is cold. Move your bait slowly to mimic the behaviour of a fish in cold water.
Is it Worth it to Wait for a Full Moon to go fishing?
Don’t plan your fishing trips around the lunar cycle unless it is convenient for you to do this. You can catch fish any time of the lunar cycle. If a week before the full moon is a better time than the day of it, go a week before.
However, if there is no reason to go now rather than during the full moon or in the last days before the moon, you might as well wait for it. You can catch more and better fish during that time, in many people’s experience.