John A Knight back in 1926 was prompted to undertake a study on the factors that influence the behaviour of fish, meaning the best times for catching fish. Many of the factors in the study were dismissed, all except for three. Those three were the sun, the moon and the tides.
Tides have always been a guide to a saltwater fisherman, but the sun and the moon needed to be investigated further. The experiments Knight performed, proved that it was a gravitational pull governed by the moon and to a lesser extent the sun that caused spikes in fish activity.
The best times for catching fish still varies depending on the fish you are targeting. However, based on the Solunar Theory, there are peak times for all species. The Solunar Theory states that there are two main times each day that fish activity increases.
The major periods occur for about two hours at a time when the moon is directly overhead or directly underfoot. The “Moon Overhead” period is that time each day when the moon reaches its highest point in your sky. Then approximately 12.5 hours later, it has moved to be right under your feet on the other side of the earth. That’s the “Moon Underfoot” period.
There is a minor period that is also best times for catching fish and that occurs at the time of the rising or setting of the moon. The minor period has a duration of only around one hour. Remember, the moon doesn’t necessarily rise at the same time as the sun. The time of day should also be considered for these two phases, as the best bite periods can be around dawn or dusk.
The tides are directly influenced by the gravitational pull from the moon and the sun. Therefore, it is a big factor to consider before heading out. Fish still feed outside the moon periods which is why relying on the tides is crucial. As an example, if you are fishing a shallow sand flat, it might only be accessible on the upper end of the tide, when the fish also want to move onto it.
The movement of ocean water is regulated vertically by tides and horizontally by currents. And, each day has two high tides and two low tides, and neither of them is good times to fish. The reason for this is that when the water isn’t moving, the fish are less likely to be feeding. Therefore, the best times are in the falling tide, around two hours before low tide and two hours before a full high tide.
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