When Do Fish Bite?

Now this is a tough question and the answers range all over the fish'n spectrum. I have seen dissertations on the moon, earth, tides, sleet, stars (even the Hollywood type have been invoked) air, wind, rain, wind direction, snow, storms you name it and they do have some kind of influence, I reckon. How to sort it out?

Well, there is another school of thought, one which could very well be the answer to everyone's questions.

I read this magazine article one time in a barber shop and in the article about trout fish'n, clear to the end of it in the last paragraph, the author quoted an old doctor up in Maine who was undeniably one of the best trout fishermen in the country. When asked about the best time to go fish'n, this character answers, "Just put your gear in the trunk of the car and when your going down the road and see a likely spot and the mood moves you, stop and go fish'n!" Now that's sage advise, in any language and will be hard to beat!

However, rather than look for the best times to go fishn, maybe we should look on the flip side and determine the one or two times in a month NOT to go fish'n. I expect that's what we'll concentrate on and with any luck, we'll be able to figure out the times we should work on the basement, the shed, or the car or some other of the many things that need doing so it won't interfere with more serious things like good fish'n.

Notice the moon is at the top of the list. It surely does have a lot of influence over your or my ability to catch fish.

Moon, Moon, Moon .....

I believe the moon has more to do with the habits and conduct of fish and animals than any other thing I've looked at. I think they are very much attuned to the gravity of the moon. The fishn cycles (or game) seems to run in concurrence with the moon. It seems to me like about every 27 days there is a very high activity period. The other big influence would be the sun, not the light, but any changes in gravity and so forth, when the moon is circling the earth. As it does so, its gravity works with, then against, the sun. This cycle repeats itself every so many days.

The peak of these cycles are not repeated at exactly the same time of the day so its possible to have the peak of one cycle occurring during the night and the next cycle's peak could be in the daytime. I'm not a sailor but I imagine they are very attuned to these peaks. Fishermen, Sailors, Hunters have known about this for ages. The next time you are out fishn and you have made a really good catch of fish but they have slowed down momentarily and you are thinking about leaving for home, just look up and around and I think you will find the moon has just risen, was just rising during the action, and is now up into the sky. They'll hit again just about the time it goes down.

The so - lunar tables will indicate probably one week where the fishn is classed as poor. Other than occasionally tagging into a big one, I have never done very well in this period and seldom easily caught a mess of fish. Generally speaking, trying to get serious about fishing in that week is a waste of time so I started doing other jobs then so that I could fish in the more productive periods. It has always worked for me. The odds of catching  any significant amount of fish in that week is very slim. Don't confuse so-lunar periods in the day with so-lunar periods in the month. Pick the right time of the month, then try to hit the right time of the day.

Anyway, the moon plays the biggest part in fish and animal conduct and a study of the moon's phases and positions will do nothing except add to your fishn experience and add to the size of your catch. There are many kinds of tables, charts, calendars that can be easily obtained and are excellent guides to good fishn periods. To overlook this aspect of the sport will truly diminish your total catch.

Weather ........

I stuck the weather in here also because it is an adjunct to the influence of the moon and because there are 2 or 3 simple rules involving the weather. Number one is safety ..... never take a chance on personal injury or loss of your fishn equipment. Avoid wild and boisterous water, probably couldn't fish in a high wind anyway. Watch out for lightning and the other baddies like tornados. Yes, a tornado upset an excursion boat out on the water down by K.C. Mo. about 25 years ago.

Rising water sends some fish into a feeding frenzy but if you're not right there when the action first starts, then you will have dirty, discolored water, etc. Any water that is close to shore will be pretty badly banged up and you may have to wait for 3-4 days for things to calm down before you try to catch fish. Rule number two would be to avoid the after-storms water as generally fishn is poor anyway.

Rule number three is creature comfort. Its ok to rough it but gee whiz, why ask for the worst that Mother Nature has to offer? Take the good if you can. Though some 'weather' is needed for the good catches let's be reasonable here. We are out to have a good time, right? So, just park it when things get really rough.

Local Conditions .......

Here I'm talking about whether they are building a bridge, dam or road where it'll interfere with the fishing. Is the habitat accessible - can it be accessed by auto or boat?

Do you have permission if its on private property? You should always check this out before you try fish a certain body of water. Are there facilities there if they are included in your plans?

Is the local body of water flooded or crammed with other fishing boats or is the water level very low and boating to and from the habitat dangerous? Is there a monetary charge for any fishing or probably camping?

These are all local conditions and should get a look-see before you go somewhere new to you or someplace where the conditions are known to change from time to time.

Available time .......

Here's a buggaboo ......... folks don't always have the time to just up and go fishn when they want. Depends on where a guy is located and how easily the habitat can be accessed. I know when I lived in a very small very rural town where access to habitat was easy, we went fishing very often but the stays were never very long, not over an hour or so. Frequent excursions of short duration.

When I lived in a city, we had to go several miles and stayed probably most of the day and then only infrequently. Planning was more of a priority there than in the rural areas where we generally did just like the New England trout fisherman and "fished when the mood moved us".

Availability of time may have a lot to do with how a guy fishs and the type of fish and so forth. If he doesn't have much time he'll just about have to grab onto the first commercial excursion he can come upon. Probably use some kind of vacationing or charter service so that he has an opportunity to utilize a professional's experience and also can lease equipment rather than purchase expensive equipment which may not get used very often.

It doesn't do much good to be an expert on the solar tables, weather, species and habitat and then not be able to choose the time to go fishn. So, time(ing) is a big factor.

Sun .......

Here we are talking  about light. The good old sun ........... but it can be a detractor. We talked about light in the preceding page and some of those comments may be repeated here. The sun can be a danger also, and should be guarded against, especially when fishn right out on the water. We were always taught to fish with the sun and wind in our face. I believe there is something to that but take care that injury to eyes or skin from water deflected sunrays do not result.

Just remember that the fish have to have light of some kind to see, right? But, generally, too much light will drive the fish to their hiding places and you have to get the bait right into their mouth almost to get them to bite. Since this is very hard to do, your catch will drop off. Remember, the fish is "down there lookin up" right into the light.

I repeat here the statements about the 4 periods of the day when the sun can be a factor. Please understand that light can be used to help the fish see the bait, sure. But you also have to understand that it is not desirable to have the fish see everything as the lures, etc you are fishing with certainly don't look like the real thing. That's the reason its advantageous to have light switching back and forth (chop) and not have just a big clear sky. The changing light camouflages the lures, baits and line to the extent that it probably confuses the fish and he, not getting a clear look at the lure, strikes. Also, bright light makes the fish clearly visible to larger fish and other predators so he won't be cruising 'round much.

The sun's rays strike the water at a low angle in A.M. and P.M. and is reflected but wholly penetrates the water to greatest depth at midday. If there is not much wind and there is little "chop" at water surface, the light will drive the fish to their protective lairs. The light reflects from the water at low angle but goes right into it if at 90 deg. This has to be considered when fishing in daylight hours for fish that bite"by sight" so to speak. Cloud cover reduces the sunlight and the water's "Chop" prevents light from entering the water directly. You have to learn to use them to your advantage.

That's one reason some 'chop' is desirable on the water. Also, cloud cover aids in bringing the fish out of their recesses, the fish stray farther away from their hiding place in the absence of the 'high' light.

A bright sun directly overhead may aid fishn in a body of 'muddied' water or water discolored by a recent storm. In this case, use light colored lures, white and yellow (because of the brown mud color). Anything that will contrast with the brown tint of the water.

Now, I'm assuming a different approach may have to be used in bodies of clear, deep water. We do not have that kind of water here so barometric pressure and so lunar would prevail, probably.

 Gene's Ideal Fishn Time.....


So, if I had a choice, only one pick but at my choosing, I would choose to fish in this order of priority:

  • When the so-lunar tables say its best period (Old Farmerís Almanac)
  • When barometer is falling and a storm front moving in
  • When the sun is setting or just before
  • When there is good "chop" on the water
  • When the moon is just breaking over the horizon, maybe just a little before
  • Again, when the sun is going down and the moon coming up
  • If I can't have the sun going down, I'll take either of the "angle of incidence" periods, AM or PM

These are the ideal conditions and you seldom will get them all together. But watch for them and try to get as many as you can into your fishn trip.

Ernest Conger     6/14/2013              mailto:genecongx@gmail.com                   Return To List

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