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The Moon and Fishing?
The moon and the sun have a dramatic effect on the earth due to their combined gravitational force that they place on any body of water. The oceans are the most noticeable. This gravitational force causes the oceans of the world to move resulting in what we refer to as tides. The moon's influence is more dominant due to it's proximity to the earth.

A complete lunar cycle is usually referred to in one of the following four stages.
1. Full Moon
   2. Last Quarter
3. New Moon (also refer to as "the dark of the moon")
4. First Quarter
This cycle will rotate every 29 days approximately.

The effect that this lunar cycle has is so powerful that in the United State of America, crime statistics show that there is a link between criminal/violent behavior and the New/Full moon phases.

Tides move in 6 hour cycles. In a 24 hour period there will be a high, a low, a high and then a low tide, all approximately 6 hours apart. Various fish species feed more aggressively depending on the tide, the moon and the time of day/night.
When there is a full or new moon the tides are referred to as Spring Tides. Spring Tides are when the water level rises to its highest point for that particular moon (lunar) cycle due to the combined gravitational pull of the sun and moon. Spring tides happen twice per month. In Northern Australia Spring tides can rise over 6 meters (18 feet). Tides of over 20 meters (63 feet) have been recorded in The Straits of Magellan in southern South America and at the top of the Bay of Fundy Nova Scotia, a spring tide can reach an amazing 23 meters (70 feet).

Extra caution must be taken when fishing at these times, especially from rock platforms as the water level can rise with surprising speed. Fishing at night can be even more hazardous and can result in wet/lost tackle or even an unexpected swim for the unwary!
Neap tides are the opposite of Spring tides. They are the lowest low tide for that particular lunar cycle. Neap tides are generally regarded as the worst time to go fishing. You will catch fish during these tides but fish will be more active during a Spring tide.
Follow the link below to see a cool graphic on how the oceans interact with the sun and the moon.
Spring and Neap Tide Graphic


Follow the link below to go to the
National Tidal Facility  of Australia


How can this help me catch more fish?
Imagine a mouth of a river (estuary) at the time of the full moon when the tide is lowering. There would be tons of water moving rapidly from the estuary spilling into the sea. With all this water movement the river and sea floor is disturbed considerably. Food organism that live in or near the bottom then become part of this mass exodus of water that is moving out to sea. Small fish will feed on these organisms, bigger fish will feed on these fish,  even bigger fish will feed on these fish......and BINGO!!!! you have a healthy food chain.

The feeding habits of the ocean roaming pelagic fish species also vary depending on the phase of the moon. If you asked ten different marlin or tuna fishermen "when's the best time?" there's a good chance you would receive ten different answers but
from catch records of professionals, recreational anglers and scientific studies these fish are more active for 4 days leading up to the full moon and for 4 days after the new moon. There are many other variables to take into consideration as well, not just the moon phases. Things such as water temperature/color, the presence of baitfish/food items, cloud cover,  bird activity, ocean current speed/direction and how you scratched your nose last week, but one thing you can be 100% sure about
One way of finding the feeding habits of a species in a certain area is to keep a diary of your fishing outings. This diary should include date, time, moon phase, tide, method used, catch rate and other information (such as bird activity and current speed). After several entries about a location a pattern may form which will be invaluable for future outings. It may take a long time (perhaps years) to discover what the best fishing conditions are for a location but that's the beauty of fishing. Good anglers don't rely on luck alone.


Below are some comments posted on the Pakula Marlin Bar

  As far as moon phases go in the early eighties I did a complete graph of captures and tags in the previous 10 years in four Game Fishing clubs in New South Wales and one from Queensland according to moon phases. I rejected data from tournaments so I wouldn’t get lumps in the system. Though it was many years ago I remember the line was incredibly straight! With no sign of any period being any better than any other. The only thing I remember that stood out that the four biggest Blue Marlin were actually caught on the day of the full moon.

PETER PAKULA - www.pakula.com

I noticed that the topic of moon phase activity was mentioned recently again & its significance. The 3 year study that I was privy to involving thousands of charters & over 65,000 fish caught indicated that the perception of moon phase was more important than it really was. I am not saying that it is not important only that there are so many subtle variables involved that the reliability of moon phase activity is questionable. However, there is a measure that has proved to be much more reliable & I hope that enough readers explore this element to prove its worth. We noticed patterns of activity (feeding) in conjunction with the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI). When viewing the index on a regular basis (weekly or bi-weekly) spikes occur in either the negative or positive. These spikes indicate a "hard" change in barometric pressure. Within 2-3 days of a spike occuring the whether changed. Conversely we noticed that feeding activity on animals ranging from dolphins to snapper heightened 2-3 days prior & after a spike. Sufficient records noting this activity suggest that following the SOI maybe a means of more accurately predicting fishing periods.

MAX MOORE - max@roadwear.com.au




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