Moon Phases Effects on Fishing

Moon Phases Effects on Fishing
Often overlooked, the moon has a dramatic effect on fishing. The gravitational pull of the moon moves the oceans and creates tides. The four phases of the lunar cycle are known as new moon, first quarter, full moon and last quarter. The lunar cycle takes approximately 29 days to complete.

Spring Tides

The periods of the new and full moons exert the greatest force on the oceans, and are known as spring tides. Water movement is greater than any other time during the cycle, creating extreme high and low tides. The increased water movement creates opportunities for predatory fish. Angler records show the best fishing takes place in the four days preceding the full moon, and the four days after the new moon.


Neap Tides

The first quarter and last quarter of the lunar cycle present anglers with the weakest tides. Although tides are weak, fish still have to eat. Anglers should seek out areas with current. During neap tides, the window of opportunity may be small, with the best fishing occurring at the start of each tide.

Tides of the Day

Tides change approximately every six hours. We experience two high tides and two low tides every day. For anglers, finding the area that matches the tide is the key to catching fish. Certain locations might not be practical to fish on one tide, but perfectly suited for a different tide.

Some inlets have so much current on a spring tide, that you simply cannot keep your bait on the bottom long enough to catch fish. That same location might produce well during neap tides, while current is non-existent elsewhere.

High Tide

As the tide floods, game fish often stage outside areas known to hold bait fish. When there is enough water to accommodate them, the predators move up into the shallows in search of an easy meal.

Jetties, piers and the quiet backwaters of harbors and bays are ideal targets when fishing during high tides. These areas all feature structure known by fish to hold bait.

Low Tide

The low or ebb tide presents different opportunities for the thinking angler. As waters drain off saltwater flats, predatory fish position themselves at the ends of the many inlets, creeks and drains that conduct water back to the ocean.

During low tides, focus your efforts on saltwater flats that are adjacent to some deeper water. Inlets are great for producing fish. Position yourself on the down-tide end of the inlet whenever possible.


Article Written By Stephen Byrne

Stephen Byrne is a freelance writer with published articles in "Nor'East Saltwater," "Sportfishing" magazine, "Pacific Coast Sportfishing" and "Salt Water Sportsman." As a fishing charter captain, he was also interviewed for a feature in "Field and Stream." Byrne studied environmental science at the State University of New York at Delhi.

The Latest from the Community

I don’t know why this trail isn’t listed. All I can find is the Roaring River CG, which is where the trail head...
Start this hike across from the Hazard Canyon parking area. You will walk along the Hiedra Trail for a short time,...