Analysis of my bass fishing diary – Part 7 (Moon Phases)

Analysis of my bass fishing diary – Part 7 (Moon Phases)

This is Part 7 of a 12 Part series in which I will share my thoughts, conclusions and overall personal experiences of bass fishing over the past 7 years, from the south Devon coastline. In the remaining parts of the series I will also cover:

  • Part 8 – Water clarity
  • Part 9 – Sea state
  • Part 10 – Air pressure
  • Part 11 – Rocks, Beaches and Estuaries
  • Part 12 – Which type of lure?

Note – Please bear in mind that any conclusions I make in this series are based purely on my own experiences and my diary entries. I am positive that there will be many similarities in the hypothesis of my fellow bass lure anglers, or indeed, just as many conflicting or contradictory observations – I look forward to the debates!

Why 7 Years? Please go to Part 1 (Tide Heights) where I explain.

The moon affects bass fishing – Really?

Is it totally bonkers to imagine that the moon phase or cycle really makes a difference to bass lure fishing? Well, when you consider that the phases of the moon run in parallel with the size of the tide (or tidal range) creating either neap or spring tide conditions, then maybe it isn’t so daft after all.

I know there are many bass anglers out there who will swear by the Science (if you like) and some will only go out bass fishing around the Full/New Moon or spring tide periods based on their own records and success rates… But what do my own personal diary entries and records indicate? Are they any clear patterns?

NOTE: I have attempted (over the past 7 years since taking intricate notes) to fish as many of my marks, in as many differing tidal/weather/sea state conditions as possible – but I don’t have the luxury of being able to go fishing every single day. Overall, I would say that the results form a relatively accurate measurement.

Below is a table whereby I have collated my diary entries into a simple format, in order to display the percentage of bass caught during the specified Lunar Phase.

bass catches and lunar phases

The results above form the following conclusions:

  • Very clearly, the periods either side the Full Moon and New Moon are when I have achieved a higher percentage of my bass catches – and yes, this does happen to coincide with spring tides or, in my neck of the woods, tides with a tidal range greater than 4m.
  • On days +3 or +4 following the New Moon or Full Moon there is a definite ‘drop off’ in the percentage of bass caught – significant as this is when the tides have generally (but not always as it depends on the tactual tide heights) transitioned back to ‘neaps’ (tidal range of less than 4m).
  • I have caught bass on lures on every day of the lunar cycle over the last 7 years.
  • There is a very clear trend towards my catch rate increasing on the 2 or 3 days prior to a New Moon or Full Moon – again significant, as this is generally when the tidal range is increasing sharply, or in simpler terms, when the tides are what many would term ‘are building’.
  • In line with my personal findings in relation to ‘Tide Heights’ here from Part 1 of this series – there is evidence to suggest that the bigger tides offer a greater chance of connecting with a bass from the shore…. but read on…

Dawn, a flooding spring tide, on the day after a New Moon during the early season. Unfortunately for my client, a bass followed the lure during this session but didn’t hit it (turned away at the last second) in the very clear water.

P1070032

My experiences:

  • Some of my reliable marks only a couple of centimetres of water present on the lowest neap high tides. In fact, following a quick scan through the areas that I routinely fish I’d say around 10 – 15 % of them fall into this category. Therefore, the results are bound to be skewed slightly in favour (in terms of actually catching bass) of the bigger tides in around the New/Full Moon stages.
  • In regards to how I discovered many of my marks, I’d say that many of them were probably ‘first fished’ in spring tide conditions (in order to maximise their initial potential) so the results could again be biase towards the larger tides. Ultimately, it’s taken 7 years to learn (what I believe) are the best times (and conditions) to fish most of these marks.
  • Some marks do fish better on smaller tides that coincide with the Half Moon periods. Headlands jutting out into the current in particular standout in this sense.
  • As I’ve previously written, the weather conditions, sea state and water clarity (to name only three) all contribute hugely to bass behaviour therefore, I have to consider that very often the presumed ‘worst’ tides might actually have coincided with excellent sea conditions (some movement, half decent water clarity etc.) when bass have been caught.

A neap tide during ‘Half Moon’ conditions but the sea conditions look very tasty indeed and would certainly ‘encourage’ more bass to feed close to the shore.

P1050865

Conclusions

The results above probably don’t come as a major suprise to many readers. From my point of view it just confirms my findings from Part 1 Tide Heights of this series where I found that 68% of my bass catches were achieved in tides with a range greater than 4m – the range occuring either side of the Full/New Moon phases.

I’ve read a few articles about how the moon affects fishing for bass and many others species at night, especially in relation to whether the sky is cloudy or clear. This is something that I will also monitor closely over the next few seasons now that I’m partial to a bit of lure fishing at night!

To conclude, its all about finding the marks and then finding the conditions that increase the odds of catching a bass from them – which is why it’s never a hopeless exercise heading out onto the rocks, beach or estuary with the lure rod. There will always be somewhere along the coast where they’ll be feeding – the trick of course is knowing where!

I hope that this series is allowing beginners, or anglers considering bass lure fishing an insight into the type of factors that can contribute to success. Nothing is guaranteed of course, but that’s what makes it all the more fascinating.

I welcome any feedback or observations – thank you for reading.

Marc Cowling

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s