Moon Phases and Bass Fishing Part 4
Published on Bassmaster.com August 17, 2009
If you haven't read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3, read them first.
If you observed the moon every day, you would notice that it rises in the east and sets in the west approximately 30 minutes to an hour later every day. In actuality, it is the earth that is turning every day and not the moon. I will discuss what is really happening in my next article. However, knowing what the moon does from the perspective of an observer on the earth may be more useful. For the purposes of this article, I will write about what appears to be happening. I will be saying basically the same thing in different ways, so hopefully you will understand the moon and even predict future moon phases.
On the night of the full moon, the moon rises at about the same time the sun sets. It also sets at about the same time as the sun rises in the morning. So, on the night of the full moon, not only do you have the whole moon but you also have it all night long.
Conversely, on the night of the new (dark) moon, it rises at daybreak and sets at sundown. So, if you could see the new moon, you would only see it during the day.
After the new (dark) moon, every day the moon gets a little fuller and comes out a little later. About a week after the new moon, there will be a half moon that comes out in the middle of the day and sets in the middle of the night. After another week of getting fuller and coming out later, it will be a full moon rising about sundown and setting at sunup. After the full moon, it will start getting smaller again and rising later every night. A week or so after the full moon, the half moon will rise in the middle of the night and set in the middle of the day. This process repeats itself continuously. Every 29 1/2 days, the moon will go from new (dark) to full and back to dark again. Since our calendar month is slightly more than 29 1/2 days, the full moon is approximately a day or so earlier every month.
When the half moon is getting fuller, it will be shaped like a "D" (with the lighted side on the right). When it is getting smaller, it will be shaped like a "C" (with the lighted side on the left). So, a way to remember if the full moon is approaching or going away is to remember the word DOC (the "O" meaning full).
Another way to tell if the full moon is approaching or going away is when you see it. If you see a moon in the evening (before dark), you can be assured that it will get even fuller the next day. If you see a moon in the morning (after sunup), you can bet that it will be getting even smaller.
I don't think this is completely accurate, but an observation I've made is that the amount of illumination is also the amount of time that the moon is visible in the night. On the full moon (100 percent illumination), the moon is out all night long. On the new moon (0 percent illumination), the moon is only out during the day, so you wouldn't see it at night if it was visible. Likewise, on the 1/2 moon waxing (50 percent illumination), the moon is overhead when it gets dark and takes about half the night to set in the west. On the 1/2 moon waning (50% illumination), the moon rises in the east in the middle of the night and will be overhead when it gets daylight.
I believe the next set of graphs is self-explanatory. I took all the posts (except mine and a few that are questionable) and divided them by season, moon phase and whether the phase was waxing bigger or waning smaller. For these graphs, all fish are shown and the time of day isn't considered. So, the following graphs just simply show what phases had the most fish, regardless of whether they were caught at night or during the day. Also, they were adjusted for the number of days that each phase occurred. Then, I filtered out all bass except for those more than 5 pounds. So, these graphs only show stats for bass more than 5 pounds.
Below is a set of graphs where I took bass of all sizes and charted them according to season, moon phase and the time period that they were caught. I didn't include after dark time periods because of lack of data.
I'm not sure this is the best way to chart them, but there's a lot of data to record and this is the best way I found to organize them. I believe the charts are self-explanatory, but the results are difficult to explain in words, so I'll leave it for your own interpretation.
I believe from these charts that you can look at the current season and moon phase and sometimes find that a certain time frame is better than it would be under a different phase. However, be sure to keep in mind that there is only a few years worth of data and the more we break them down, the less accurate the results are. Also be mindful that the BASSlog only tracks fish that were actually caught and it doesn't consider the amount of time that was spent fishing during each period. In most cases, the reason more fish were caught during certain time periods is because that is when the most people (who log their fish) were fishing. The best advice I could give is to fish as much as you can and be sure to fish the periods that have the most fish recorded during each period.
Next time I plan to share more info including my own personal moon phase stats. Be sure to check back often and record all your bass in the Insider BASSlog.