Does this stuff really work? Read on...
Ever checked a Solunar Table? How about a Tide Chart or Moon Phase Calendar? Does this stuff really work? The answer is yes, but it's not infallible, because Solar periods, moon phases, and moon position are still affected by weather (especially changes in barometric pressure).
Many predatory fish have eyes that adjust to changes in light faster than their prey's eyes. This means that most gamefish know from experience that they can catch baitfish more easily at dawn and dusk, which makes dawn and dusk two key solar periods. Fish also get hungry between these big meals, so they'll often feed sometime during mid-day. As a result, there are usually three or four "solar periods," including dawn, dusk and one or two mid-day periods. These periods are one of the ingredients in a Solunar Table.
Fish, like most wildlife and even humans, are directly influenced by lunar phases and moon position. More than three-fourths of the record gamefish are caught within three days before, three days after, or during a new moon or full moon. The reason is still a mystery, though there are some theories that would probably bore the average reader. We do know that the full moon provides the most night-time light and the new moon provides no moonlight. The important thing is that more and bigger fish can generally be caught just before, just after or during a new moon or full moon. These moon phases are another element in Solunar Tables and are a good reason why many anglers buy calendars that show the moon phase.
The moon's gravitational pull creates the tides and also seems to directly affect gamefish appetites. When the moon is overhead, it creates the highest high tide of the day (called a "spring" tide) and for some reason, it makes fish hungry. When the moon is underfoot, it creates the second, slightly lower, high tide of the day (called a "neap" tide) and it also seems to make fish hungry. These moon positions influence freshwater fish as well as ocean fish. Lunar positions are the third key in a Solunar Table and they are the main reason that many good anglers buy tide charts, even anglers who don't fish in salt water.
Days on or near the key moon phases (usually new or full) are listed on most Solunar Tables as good fishing days. The times of day when the moon position (overhead or underfoot) and major solar periods (dawn, dusk, noon, etc.) coincide are called the best fishing times. Days that don't occur on key moon phases and times of day when the solar periods and moon position don't occur at the same time are listed as only fair or poor.
Remember that Solunar Tables, Tide Charts and Moon Phase Calendars don't guarantee fishing success. Fish are wild, unpredictable animals and there are other variables that influence their behavior, many of which are difficult or impossible to predict. That's what makes fishing challenging and fun! But there is another factor than can help to predict fish behavior- weather.
Fish are directly influenced by weather, probably at least as much as they are affected by solar periods, moon phases and moon position. Weather is too unpredictable to put on a chart that is published several months in advance. Bright sunlight can bother fish and kill periods of activity or cause fish to take their activity into shaded or deeper water. Fish prefer some cloud cover or haze and are likely to be more active over a greater range of water and to have wider "strike zones" (meaning they will travel farther to attack a lure or bait) on partly cloudy to fully cloudy days. Wind can drive baitfish or insects to the downwind side of a lake and gamefish usually follow. Extreme wind can ruin fishing or make it difficult or dangerous for fishermen to be on or near the water. Another weather pattern that makes a big difference is barometric pressure. When the TV weather forecaster talks about "high pressure" or "low pressure" zones moving in, he or she is talking about barometric pressure. Fish are more active during periods of low pressure and less active during periods of high pressure. If you don't want to buy and learn to read a barometer, you can get a pretty good feel for barometric pressure just by walking outside. If it's hot and muggy with very few clouds, it's a high-pressure period and the fish will be less active. If it's getting colder, clouds are moving in, or it's starting to rain or snow, it's a low-pressure period and fish will probably be more active.
Does all this confusing information mean that fish can only be caught on cool, cloudy days when a full or new moon is directly overhead or underfoot at dawn or dusk? No, but it does mean that fish are the most likely to be the most active at those times. It means that a smart angler will try active-fish techniques first, like using a faster retrieve, brighter colored lures, and/or larger baits. It also means that on bright, sunny, hot days and at times when the moon is not in the best phase or position, a smart angler will try inactive fish techniques first, including slower retrieves, natural or subdued colors, and/or smaller baits. Finally, it means that a smart angler will also be ready to try something else if the first thing doesn't work.
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