Want to increase your catch?
You're not alone.Every angler is interested in catching larger fish, faster. Every angler also knows that the best fishing times are when the fish are feeding, which is typically at dusk and dawn. But there are other factors to consider, too. Here's more ...
A History of Solunar Tables
The quest to determine the best times to hunt and fish is not a recent project. For hundreds of years people that made their living hunting and fishing recognized that there were certain times when wildlife was more abundant. The lives of most Native Americans were completely dependent on knowing the best times to hunt and fish. People who base their existence on the ocean or lakes have long understood that solar and lunar influences help determine the best times to fish.
What is generally known and almost universally accepted is that fish and game are more active at certain times of the day, most noticeably at dawn and dusk. It is also generally agreed that many game species are more active during certain phases of the moon as well as when the moon is in certain positions in the sky each day. All of these influences have an individual effect that can be observed and in some instances measured.
Much of the early research and understanding of solar and lunar influences was pioneered by John Alden Knight. In 1926 Knight began his studies of various influences that affect wildlife activity. This research resulted in his publication of tables that illustrated periods in each day of major activity and minor activity. To substantiate his research and theory, Knight analyzed data for over 200 record catches of fish. His analysis concluded that 90% of the catches were made while in the effect of the new moon and while in a "solunar period".
Additional proof of Knight's theory was provided by a biologist at Northwestern University. Dr Frank A. Brown had live oysters flown in to his lab in Chicago, Illinois. Oysters open their shells at each high tide. Dr. Brown wanted to see if this opening and closing was the actual result of the changes in water flow from the tides or from lunar influences. Dr. Brown discovered that after about a week the oysters had changed their opening and closing to correspond to the times that the moon was directly overhead and underfoot for Chicago.
Solunar tables have been used in some form since 1936. Since that time, the most significant improvement in our understanding of influences on wildlife activity has come with more recent capabilities to calculate and observe the combined effect of multiple solar and lunar influences. The days and times of these combined influences result in periods of significantly increased activity, which are shown in Weather and Wildlife Charts.
The sun is the largest body in our solar system and some would say exerts the greatest influence in our daily lives, as well as that of wildlife. The primary solar periods that are factored in Weather and Wildlife charts are dawn, dusk, midday and midnight. Each of these periods is determined based on the exact time of sunrise and sunset for that specific location and date. The sun has its greatest influence when it is at its zenith or most directly overhead. That point occurs around June 21st each year in the northern hemisphere. Even though the solar influence on wildlife within each day is significant, the day-to-day and even the week-to-week change resulting from this solar influence is incremental and not very noticeable.
The moon is also a large factor in the day-to-day lives of people as well as wildlife. Some of the lunar influences are obvious while some are not. The most obvious and measurable affects of the moon on the earth are seen with tides. The gravitational force of the moon is one of the primary influences in the rise and fall of tides. The period that the moon exerts its greatest influence at any specific location on earth is based on the relative position of the moon, the distance the moon is from the earth, and the angle of the moon above a certain location at that specific time.
Most evidence and conventional wisdom indicate that the periods of greatest lunar influence on wildlife are when the moon is most directly overhead and then again when it is most directly underfoot (opposite side of the earth). These two positions are usually referred to as "major" activity periods or in other charts as "excellent" activity periods. There are two other daily periods of lunar influence that occur halfway between the overhead and underfoot positions, and they are usually called "minor" or "good" activity periods.
When the moon is at perigee (closest to earth) all other lunar influences are magnified. This is also the case when the moon is at its highest declination or so called high moon. The moon phase has also been shown to indicate, if not directly cause, certain heightened periods of activity.
- Weather and Wildlife Charts
- Best Time of the Day
- Declination and Diurnal Inequality
- Game Fish