Many bass fishermen will tell you that fish bite better at night just before, during, and just after a full moon. Others like the new moon. Little evidence, however, supports the notion that bass eat more at night during certain phases of the moon.
Little evidence, that is, except angler success. And who’s to argue with that?
“It’s definitely not a coincidence that a lot of big fish are caught three days before and after a full moon,” according to C.B. Bowlin, a legendary Illinois guide and tournament fisherman.
Secret: Just before, during, and after a full moon, you’re more likely to catch bass, especially largemouths, by fishing from dusk until midnight, when the moon is high. With a new moon, your best bet will be from midnight until dawn.
Still, the fact remains that bass don’t see well at night, even under a full moon in a clear sky. If they are biting better during this time, perhaps it is because insects, at the base of the food chain, are more active and this, in turn, triggers heightened activity all the way up to the top predators.
“It’s my gut feeling that changes in the weather, whether temperature, pressure, day length, or light, may be affecting lower things on the food chain. These are things we can’t measure, but they have a profound influence on bass behavior,” says Gene Gilliland, a fisheries biologist and tournament angler.
Put some clouds over a full moon, though, and you darken the theory that more insect activity is occurring because of increased light. On the other hand, if the water is clear, it makes sense that aquatic life will be more active than it would be in murky water, because moonlight can better penetrate--- even when filtered by clouds. Perhaps that is why night fishing is most popular on clear-water impoundments.
In saltwater, no question exists that the moon affects when and how well fish will bite. That’s because the moon determines the length and strength of tides, and this tidal flow turns fish on and off. Typically, fish bite better on incoming tides, as they wash in food and allow predators to move into previously inaccessible shallows.
But high tides also can provide good fishing in some waters, as can outgoing tides. Outgoing tides, though, will send fish in the other direction, and anglers must act accordingly if they want to catch them.