Under the Luck of the Sun and Moon
This article could stop a clock! It talks a
bit about the sun, the moon, and the influence they may or may
not have on fish. A bit about biological clocks too.
Work nine to five, eat lunch at twelve, serve
dinner at seven, and catch the game or a movie at eight. For many
of us, this kind of rhythm drives our daily lives. Yet there is a
different rhythm that surrounds us in the sky every day. One we
don't often notice or follow. The big hand on this invisible
clock is the sun, and the little hand is the moon. It ticks the
rhythm of nature and the outdoor world. Let's talk about this a
bit, shall we?
SUNRISE/SUNSET: Surely the sun is the
clock watched by most creatures. Whether birds, insects, flowers,
fish or whatever living thing, sunrise and sunset are times that
trigger major periods of daily activity for most species of life.
Dusk and dawn can often be considered "transition
times" when predators and prey tend to relocate and
reposition themselves from day spots to night spots. Whether a
fish species is nocturnal or strictly a daytime type, both types
can be active around dusk and dawn. It's indisputable that more
biological activity of all sorts will be observed by anglers who
are on the water fishing good spots at sunrise and sunset. Even
species caught by ice fishing under thick layers of ice have
activity periods triggered by sunrise and sunset.
SEASONS OF THE SUN: The sun also plays a
major part in controlling seasonal rhythms. It is a popular
notion that many critters are somehow dialed into the sun to
trigger what time of year they get ready to mate, migrate, fatten
up for the winter, or hibernate. Some say fish brains respond to
changes in photoperiod (length of day). The photoperiod grows
from 9.75 hours in mid-winter to 14.66 hours in mid-summer and
shrinks back to 9.75 hours in winter for example in Arizona.
Cumulatively, that's a ten hour annual change in photoperiod. One
theory goes something like certain body chemicals are produced in
daylight, others only at night, and the changing proportion of
these chemical's in the body triggers the brain to produce other
hormones that prepare their bodies for the changing seasons so
they'll mate, hibernate or do whatever's required in season.
LUNAR CYCLES: There are also daily and
monthly biorhythms said to be influenced by the moon. Originally
popularized and defined about 60 to 75 years ago by John Alden
Knight (http://www.solunartables.com), many anglers today are
familiar with widely-published time tables that incorporate daily
moonrise, moonset, and the monthly phases of the moon as
predictive components of fish activity. Most charts feature at
least two if not four periods of heightened daily activity. Two
daily lunar activity periods averaging about two hours when the
moon is directly overhead or underfoot, and two more lunar
activity periods averaging about one hour when the moon sets and
rises. Some accounts say the shorter periods of moonrise and
moonset are more intense because activity must happen in less
1) MOON RISE: You'll see a short period
("minor") of activity around the time the moon rises.
2) MOON OVERHEAD: A bit over 6 hours
later, you'll see a second longer ("major") period of
activity around the time the moon is directly overhead.
3) MOON SET: A bit over 6 hours later,
you'll see a third minor period of activity around the time the
4) MOON UNDERFOOT: A bit over 6 hours
later, you'll see a fourth major period of activity around the
time the moon is directly underfoot on the opposite side of the
Because the lunar day is 25 hours, the next moon
rise will occur about one hour later each day, and can therefore
rise or set at any hour of the day or night. This means that
moonrise and moonset will cycle round every so often to occur
about the same times as dawn and dusk. A double whammy of
overlapping sun and moon activity periods so to speak! Now it
just so happens that a full moon almost always rises around dusk
and a full moon sets just about sunrise. A triple doozy of
dusk/moonrise or moonset/dawn and full moon pie in the sky all at
the same time. Miss Cleo's tarot cards won't ever read any better
cosmic mojo than this, and your planets are in line to have fish
activity going for you when dawn and dusk coincide with moonset
and moonrise on full moon days! There are other days when the sun
and moon align, and most charts point out these "best"
days for you. Some accounts say new moons can be nearly just as
good as full moons. One popular notion is that the
"downside" (the few days following) either a new or
full moon are big fish medicine, whereas another notion is that
the few days "straddling" both before and after the
new/full moon are equally potent.
SETTING CLOCKS BY EACH OTHER. In addition
to the sun and the moon (and perhaps more important than either),
predators and prey set their clocks to one other. A prey species
will tend to constantly readjust the times and locations of their
daily activities to be places and do things at times when the
prevailing predators are NOT there. Predator species are just the
opposite, and will constantly readjust their activity clocks to
schedule being at locations when the prevailing prey ARE there.
It's a never-ending problem of timing, and both predator and prey
species clocks and daily activities are set according to each
DOWN TO EARTH. We've talked a bit about
the luck of the sun and the moon. Do these cosmic alignments
really matter? Fact is, we cannot conclusively say they
work...nor can we disprove them either! Many anglers have
increased confidence at the predicted times. Sometimes it seems
my horoscope for the day is uncannily right on target too!
Haven't you ever noticed that?
ALL KIDDING ASIDE, just keep in mind that
at any given spot at any time -- anything can happen and usually
does IF bait, fish and fishermen all meet up there at once. If
that meeting happens under the triple whammy of moonset/sunrise
or moonrise/sunset on a full moon day, so much the better, and I
bet you'll be looking up the tables when you get home for when to
plan your next fishing trip
...under the luck of the sun and the moon!