Shrouded in mystery and steeped in legend, the moon is the source of countless stories, and has a powerful effect on our daily lives. We already know the moon causes the ebb and flow of ocean tides around the world.
Armed with this knowledge, we have to wonder what effect our ever-present companion of the night has on marine life and if the moon’s phases affect the popular winter sport of ice fishing? Learn how the moon affects your ice fishing by reading on.
Do full moons affect ice fishing?
We all know animals can sense storms and how a falling barometer sends animals running for shelter, while fish head for deeper waters and stop biting.
Other environmental influences, such as temperature, time of day or year, affect the behavior of fish. Knowing this, it’s no real stretch of the imagination to recognize that a full moon, and the moon’s phases, influence ice fishing.
The Farmer’s Almanac has been around since 1818 and has included a fishing calendar for much of that time. Many swear by the Almanacs fishing calendar, even though it relies on moon phases and other astrological information.
With no disrespect to the tried-and-true Farmers Almanac, John Alden Knight introduced a more fact based calendar in 1924.
John Alden Knight’s Solunar Calendar
John Alden Knight didn’t originate the concepts in his Solunar theory; hunters and anglers used them before the first publication of his theory in 1924 and completion in 1933; however, he refined these concepts and developed a set of guidelines based on extensive, verifiable research.
In his research, Alden eliminated over thirty factors in identifying patterns in the bio-rhythms of fish. After discounting the sun and tides, he concluded that the phases of the moon are a primary influence on fish activity.
His findings are further supported by an experiment by Biologist Frank Brown, who isolated fresh oysters in his Chicago lab.
After a week of the oysters opening with the scheduled tides of their native waters, the oysters opened when the moon was directly overhead, showing the moon’s location to be a primary influence in the oysters’ biorhythm.
The Solunar calendar is a set of tables identifying peak periods, secondary peaks and non-peak times for fish activity. The patterns are unique by year and day and don’t always match the commonly accepted dusk or dawn peak times. Understanding their patterns can boost your ice fishing success.
Understanding the Solunar Calendar.
Knowing the terminology used in the Solunar calendar helps in understanding how it works. The calendar has two major activity periods and two minor activity periods.
The major periods are the highest bite times, and take place when the sun is directly overhead, or directly under your feet. Each period lasts about two hours.
The minor periods are when the sun is going up or down and only lasts about an hour. The prime times to be on the ice are during the two peak periods and, to a lesser degree, the two minor activity periods.
The moon’s phases are another contributing factor. The new moon and the full moon have the strongest effects on the tides, and are the absolute highest peak bite times. A few days before and after will also show an increase in feeding activity.
Get the Most Out of the Solunar Calendar
We’ve learned a lot about the Solunar calendar and its different parts, but how is the calendar read to get the best possible results? Let’s review our findings.
|Time periods & events
|Affect on fish activity
|When they occur
|Two major bite periods
|Highest bite activity of the day.
|With the sun directly overhead & directly under foot. The other side of the world.
|About 2 hours.
|2 Minor bite periods
|Increased bite activity, but less than major periods.
|With the moon’s rising and setting.
|About 1 hour.
|New moon or full moon.
|Highest bite activity of the month. New moon times are best, followed by full moon times.
|Twice a month with the highest tides.
|2 days before & after the new or full moon in the major & minor periods
|Sunrise & sunset during a major or minor period
|Increased bite activity.
With new or full moon, best action of the season.
|Period occurring 30-60 minutes around sunrise or sunset.
|Information found in the Solunar tables is location specific. Times for New York state will be different from Maine, Minnesota, and so on. Be sure to find a table for your region or area.
|Time has shown these tables to be reliable, but adverse conditions such as a falling barometer, extreme temperature changes, or winds can make the fish go deeper and stop biting.
How Does the Moon Affect When Fish bite?
Fish have a biorhythm tied to the lunar calendar. For centuries, man has seen increased periods when wildlife, including that of fish, are highly active, and times when they appear to have vanished, all with no discernible reason.
John Alden Knight suggested that the position of the moon as compared to an animal affects its activity levels.
The theory doesn’t address feeding time of fish directly, but the Solunar calendar’s decades of use have confirmed Aldens’ suspicions that feeding times followed the lunar calendar as well.
Aldens research reveals that the lunar day governs animals and fish. Using Alden’s Solunar calendar can benefit hunters and anglers alike.
The effect of the moon’s position and its phases are clear and well accepted by many, but the physical effects of the moon on fish are less clear, especially in freshwater and away from the tides.
The theory is that the moon’s location affects a fish’s sensitivity, as stated in Biologist Frank Brown’s oyster experiment. The oyster adapted to their new location and their biorhythms synced with the moon’s in their new location.
I’m guessing fish don’t really care where the moon, sun or stars are, but the tides affect them.
Water levels and currents increase and redistribute microorganisms that bait fish feed on and increase food levels for game fish. Increased activity of game fish is the result.
Is Fishing Bad During a Full Moon?
No, in fact, barring other adverse environmental or weather, fishing during a full moon should have the second highest bite activity of the month. This is because of the alignment of the sun and moon and their increased gravitational pull.
The number one time for ice fishing is during a new moon. Here, the moon and sun are more directly aligned, creating a greater gravitational pull on the waters.
Wrapping it All Up.
The moon is more than a source of mystery and stories, and is, in fact, a powerful catalyst in activating the feeding cycles of fish.
John Alden Knight gave ice anglers the Solunar tables to learn when the best time to fish is. While the best time to fish is during major and minor periods of the new moon, these same times during a full moon are the second best time of the month to fish.