I get this question all the time when people call to book hunting or fishing trip. When is the tide the best for fishing? How does the moon effect redfish, trout, flounder, or tarpon? What is better a low tide with an incoming tide or high tide with a hard falling tide? On the hunting side do the birds fly better on a full moon, do the deer or pigs move better or should we come on a dark moon?
My simple answer is to go whenever you can and forget the tide and moon phases. I would also say this would be true for weather as long as it isn’t dangerous conditions. I truly believe that people put way too much emphasis on these items, when trying to plan a trip. Yes, I agree they play a role in the behavior of fish or animals, but it might play a bigger part in the humans mind set. My grandfather always said “you are only 30 seconds away from a spectacular moment in the outdoors, so lets keep trying”.
The moon, tide, barometric pressure, weather, wind direction, and fishing reports play more on anglers mind than is needed. All of this data is great information and should be used to make decisions on where to fish or hunt throughout the day. It will also play a role in what type of lures or hunting set-up I might choose. However, I think for most anglers and hunters, it becomes more of a negative component and gives them a built in excuse. Please don’t get me wrong, I do believe the above issues can make things a little more challenging. The upside to this type of situation is that it should make you a better angler or hunter. This is where a log book and taking detailed notes will help put the puzzle together on tough condition days.
Yes fish and animals act different the four days before or after a full moon. I have experienced this many times in 23 years of doing this for a living. Fish on the flats seem to be a little spookier and are more spread out. This holds true in the early morning period and as the day goes along, they start to relax and group up for the evening feed. Animals seem to move real early and then mid-day and again right before dark. Looking back on my log books for 23 years, one thing is obvious and stood out time after time. Clients took on average larger fish or more personal best during this time period. Also, on the fishing side of things clients became better anglers over the time frame they were in camp. The reason is simple, they had to concentrate and pay more attention to details. On the hunting side better bird shoots from 10 to 12 and on the big game side 40% of our trophies have been taken during the mid-day hunts on the full moon scenarios.
One thing I have told clients for years on these types of conditions is that we have a specific plan and these are my expectations for the day. Clients respect and appreciate this greatly, but the biggest benefit is the mindset that it creates for all people on the trip. Specific goals, a mindset of learning, sharpening fishing techniques, and trying to put the puzzle together keeps everyone motivated. My grandfather told me this late in his life “if you only go fishing or hunting when the weather, tides, and moon all align you will spend 90% of your time at home doing unwanted chores and dreaming about being fishing or hunting.” I prefer to be on the water or in the field, instead of mowing a yard. How about you?
So my last word to you is go hunting or fishing, whenever you get a chance and try to learn something from the day. Start a log and you can use it to your advantage over time to be more successful on the water or in the field.
Captain Jason Catchings