How does the moon effect fishing?

About 100 years ago a man named John Alden Knight experimented with a theory as he researched variables that were believed to affect the behavior and feeding habits of animals, including fish. He started with 33 different variables that affect fish and game and by the time he was done eliminating the variables, there were only three left: the sun, the moon, and the tides. These 3 variables showed strong correlation to the behavior of fish and game.

Moon Phases

Before we talk about the moon and how it impacts fishing we need to talk about the moon phases. You have the New Moon, First Quarter, Full Moon, and Last Quarter. There are also four secondary phases: Waxing Crescent, Waxing Gibbous, Waning Gibbous, and Waning Crescent.

Starting with the new moon and going counter clockwise on the diagram below. The new moon is completely dark to us from our vantage point on Earth as the sun is lighting up the backside of the moon.then you have a waxing crescent moon, which is just a sliver of the Moon, but growing more light; hence the term waxing. Next you have first quarter moon. Then the waxing Gibbous Moon, which is considered greater than half of the moon lit up. Last you have the full moon, which of course gives off the most light. Then it starts the waning (growing less light) cycle with the waning gibbous, last quarter, waning crescent, and finally the new moon, which is the darkest.

Now that we understand the moon phases, let’s talk fishing…..after all, that is why we are here, right? We are fisherman, not astronomers!

The moon can affect fishing in two different ways…..

How the Moon Effects Fishing – Moonlight

The first way the moon affects fishing is by its light. For example if there is a full moon fish may be active overnight feeding as prey fish will be more active due to the light from the full moon. Predator fish will be chasing and feeding on the more active prey . What does this mean to a fisherman? With a full moon, it means fish as early as you can (sunrise or in the dark if you are able) or as late as you can (sunset or in the dark if you are able). I once heard someone put it this way…..if you are eating at the Old Country Buffet and are completely stuffed do you think you will wake up and want a big breakfast? The same goes for fish. They have been feeding all night long so the mid-morning or daytime bite might not be that great.

How the Moon Effects Fishing – Tides

The second way the moon affects fishing is via the tides. As you know the moon impacts tides by its pull on the earth.When the moon and the sun are on the same side of the Earth or on the opposite sides of the earth (new moon and full moon respectively) currents and the tides are largest. The stronger tides and currents increase saltwater fish feeding, which in turn creates better fishing. The theory is that fishing a few days before and after a full or new moon is the best fishing, but avoid fishing the night of the full or new moon.


  • New Moon = best fishing 3 days before, 2 days after
  • Full Moon = best fishing 3-4 days before Note: The night of the full moon can be good, but just what was said above
  • Tides = generally a few hours before high tide and a few hours after makes for the best fishing

Keeping a Log

Whether you believe in the Solunar theory or not, you should be keeping a log of all your fishing trips. The date, time, and conditions you caught fish and did not catch fish. Eventually, you will be able to tease out the what conditions (moon phase, tides, currents, best times of day, dates, etc) helped you catch more fish.

Good luck and Hook em’ deep!


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