“We aren’t gonna catch any fish today; they’ve been feeding all night with this full moon.”
Heard that one before? If you haven’t, you will. But is it true? Well … partly. Maybe.
Some fish do feed more under a bright moon. Snook are a good example. Light falling on the water makes it easier for fish to see — except in shadowed areas. Those shadowed areas become ambush points. The snook waits like mugger in a dark alley, watching his prey come closer, totally unaware of his presence. Until it’s too late.
Other ambush hunters take advantage of the situation. Largemouth bass, especially those living in clear water, often feed heavily when the moon is bright.
But not all fish hunt that way. Redfish, for example, are more likely to feed by digging around in the muddy bottom or chasing down crabs. Since crabs and other bottom-dwellers generally feel safer in the dark, they move around more on new and crescent moons (unless they need to ride a full-moon tide out into the Gulf, as they do in early summer). Redfish are perfectly capable of finding food by smell and sound, so if they’re going to feed at night it makes more sense to do so when the moon is minimal.
Tarpon are “chase-and-slurp” predators. Their huge eyes are light-collectors of amazing efficiency, and they can hunt quite well by starlight. A full moon makes them more visible to potential prey.
So, what about the many, many reports of lousy fishing on the day before or after a full moon? Two words: Confirmation bias.
When we have a bad day fishing, it can’t be our fault. Gotta be something else: Cheap leader, hook too big, lousy bait, tide wasn’t right, wrong moon phase. When our peers complain about the moon making the fishing terrible, many of us believe them. And then, we have a lousy day fishing. Check the calendar — yup, full moon’s in three days! That damn moon got me!
Yeah, maybe. But probably not. Probably, you just had a lousy day. You don’t need to blame the moon or anything else. It. Just. Happens.
My buddy Capt. Mike Myers has the right attitude. He’ll fish any time, any day, and fully believes he’s going to catch a the biggest fish he’s ever seen on his next cast. Every time. All day long.
To heck with the moon. Be like Mike — just go fishing, as often as possible.