Understanding Moon-Phase Fishing, a type of fishing plan that 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.
The Almanac of Fishing
Todays moon March 18th, 2021 is termed a Waxing Crescent Moon. You can find the Farmers Almanac moon-phase calendar here
The Farmer’s Almanac keeps a list of the best fishing days in various areas of the
US 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. The Earth and moon move in such a way that Majors and Minors occur
slightly more than six hours apart. When days and nights are equal in length, like
the Spring and Fall Equinoxes, a Major at dawn means a Minor at noon, and
another Major around dusk. This makes the Equinox a prime day to be on the
water. This also has an effect on specific fish. The larger fish, like Bass, tend to
feed the most from one-to-two hours after a Major, and right at the Minor as well
as an hour after the Minor. This may seem like a lot to learn just to catch a
beautiful wide mouth, but once you get the hang of it, it’s not that complex. Plus,
there are lots of resources out there to help you learn when the Major and Minor
times are for your particular area and fish.
According to FloridaSportFishing.com
Many captains in Florida are students of lunar cycles and have studied how they
influence fish behavior – not only feeding patterns but fish movements and
spawning cycles as well. They firmly believe that understanding how fish adapt to
changes in their environment allows anglers to better predict where their quarry is
likely to be and when the targeted species will likely be feeding.
Imagine a mouth of an estuary or any inlet during a full moon when the tide is
falling. Water is spilling into the ocean at an extremely high velocity. With all this
moving water powerful currents sweep the seafloor. Food organisms and juvenile
crustaceans that live on or near the bottom become part of this mass exodus of
water that is rapidly flushing out to sea. Baitfish feed on these organisms, bigger
fish feed on the crustaceans, even larger fish feed on the bigger fish…and you
can follow the food chain up from there.
Snook are especially reliant on the tides. Snook will not spawn during any quarter
moon – their eggs must be swept far offshore to hatch, then be carried back
inshore to estuaries a day or two later as larvae. Egg bearing females wait until a
full or new moon to spawn in order to take advantage of the stronger tidal flows.
Another example are pompano which become very active along the beaches
during major tides. The extra powerful surge flushes sand fleas – pompano’s
favorite forage – out of the sand and into the surf where they gather to gorge.
The feeding habits of the ocean’s roaming pelagics also vary depending on the
phase of the moon. Highly prized wahoo are notorious for feeding heavily just
before and after a full moon when strong outgoing tides flush large volumes of
forage off shallow banks and into deeper water. The recent August full moon
delighted South Florida anglers with a phenomenal wahoo bite.
Another example of the role the moon plays offshore can be revealed with
broadbill swordfish. If you asked ten different swordfishermen, “What’s the best
moon phase?,” you’d get ten different answers. The fact is, catch records and
scientific data prove swordfish are most active for a few days leading up to the full moon and for a few days after a new moon. Why swordfish concentrate their
feeding habits at certain depths on any given night or why the bite is better during
different times of the month is almost obvious.
Swordfish are predatory species feeding primarily on squid and mackerel, both of
which are nocturnal meaning that during the day they remain deep in the dark
depths. As night falls, they rise toward the surface. Moonlight undeniably plays a
role in where these forage species concentrate. During a full moon, plenty of
ambient light protrudes through the ocean’s surface causing the forage to remain
deeper in the water column. Conversely, during a quarter or new moon with little
to no moonlight, bait wanders closer to the surface, with broadbills in tow. There
are other variables to take into consideration as well, not just the moon phase.
Water temperature, weather patterns, ocean currents, and how you cooked your
eggs that morning all play a role in your success. Swordfishermen should always
fish baits at various levels in the water column regardless of moon phase just to
cover the bases. However, the moon phase is an extremely reliable indicator of
what depth swordfish will most likely be feeding in.
If you are not already convinced, moon phases play a leading role in saltwater
fishing. Anglers in constant pursuit of success should really know how because it
just makes good sense to fish when the fish are most active and therefore most
likely to strike.
Snook Fish are especially aware of moon phases and tidal conditions as they
prepare to ambush outgoing prey. Photo: Steve Dougherty Originally posted by
Understanding moon phases
Full moon- The moon is positioned on the opposite side of the earth from the sun
and appears as a very bright, fully illuminated disk.
New moon- The moon is positioned between the sun and earth and light is not
reflected to earth since the back side, which we cannot see, is illuminated.
First and third-quarter moon- The first and third quarter moon marks the mid-way
point as the moon transitions from new to full, and back to new again.
In the world of deep sea and saltwater angling, the tides are king. With a solid
grasp on moon phases, the next step is to look at how they affect the tides.