I Love microskiff.com!
The “Solunar Theory” is attributed to author John Alden Knight. In 1926, he considered some folk lore that he picked up while fishing in Florida and decided to evaluate 33 factors he thought might influence the behavior of fresh or saltwater fishes that caused them to be periodically more active. Of those, three seemed to merit further examination: sunrise/sunset, phase of the moon and tides.
Tides had long been known as an important factor in saltwater fishing success and the connection with moon phase was well understood. Knight reckoned that the relationship of the sun and moon, rather than actual tidal stages might be the determining factor. As his research continued, he determined that in addition to the time of moon up - moon down there were intermediate periods of fishing activity that occurred midway between the two major periods. So, he coined the phrases 'major periods' and 'minor periods' to describe them respectively. He published the first Solunar Tables in 1936.
The periods of greatest animal activity (not only fish are influenced) last from 1.5 to 3 hours depending on the moon's relationship to the sun. Minor Solunar periods are indicated during the rising and setting times of the moon, and major periods are indicated during the two transits (you can roughly calculate these times for yourself by adding six hours to the rise and set times for the moon).
June has a greater combined solunar influence than any other month. During a full moon, the sun and moon are nearly opposite each other and given the length of the day, one or the other is nearly always above the horizon. During a new moon, both bodies are in near-perfect rhythm traveling the skies together with their forces combined.
Of course, there are other factors that can greatly affect the predictive ability of solunar tables and likelihood of a successful day on the water. Barometric changes, especially a downward trend, can often ruin fishing. Cold fronts tend to drive fish deeper and make them active. Conversely, If the barometer is steady or rising, and the air temperature is approximately 15 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the water temperature a more active response to a solunar prediction can be anticipated.
Research has shown that a natural day for fish and many other animal species is based on a diurnal (twice daily) 'biological clock' that appears to coincide with lunar time. In other words, it is based on the time that it takes the moon to complete one rotation of the earth (an average of 24 hours and 53 minutes). This is also called a 'tidal day' and explains why ocean tides are about an hour later each day - and why most fish, freshwater species included, will feed up to an hour later (in relation to our solar clock) each day.
Back to yesterday. Launching from Outdoor Resorts before sunrise, we ran south from Chokoloskee on the outside to fish the beaches and snags south of the Lostmans River. Throwing a Zara Spook, Jr. in the “Foxy Momma” color, I connected with an under slot snook on the second cast. From there, it was game on. Snook, reds and a few jacks clobbered the top water lure as well as Mike’s MirroLure suspending twitch bait in mullet color. A mixed bag of bait was everywhere, as were rays and sharks…a lot of life on that flat. We left that area around 9:30 just as the bite slowed (right on track) and headed for a river to fish the outgoing before running up into the backcountry for the rest of the day. More snook and reds were caught on soft plastics on jigs, mostly at island points with moving water. We also brought a big-for-backcountry goliath grouper to the boat—sure wish they would open up a season on those! The water temperature exceeded 90 degrees in the back in the afternoon, so the fishing really slowed later in the day and we headed back in around 3:30 p.m.
Here are a few pictures from the day. Interested to hear what others think about the Solunar Theory and whether you ascribe any of your success to using it in your planning. But, just remember, the best day to fish is any day you can!