There’s no doubt that the full moon has the biggest effect on fish. It activates them to move in for their spawn and also to feed. (Interestingly, it does the same thing with deer and other warm-blooded animals.) But, that effect is not without limitations.
If you’re talking about the bite, it tends to come in spirts. During a full moon there’ll typically be a good bite early in the morning, another active period around the middle of the day and then again just before dark. The periods around midmorning and midafternoon will almost always be dead. That’s my experience, anyway.
It’ll do the same thing with fish moving towards the beds. They tend to move during the same three active periods, and not move during the inactive periods.
The effect of a new moon may not be as intense on fish and wildlife, but it’s more level. What I mean by that is that the bite will be pretty consistent all day, or all night. And, a new moon will have a noticeable effect on bedding bass throughout the day.
Most bedding bass will move up during the full moon phase, but not all. If the moon lines up with the weather — warming water temperatures moving through the bedding range while the days are getting longer — you’ll see them move, too.
You’ll note that I said “moving through the bedding range” when I was talking about water temperature. I have seen times when the water warmed quickly and then dropped back down. The bass moved in to spawn as the water temperature dropped. The trigger doesn’t have to be rising water temperature. It can also be falling water temperature.
All of what I have said so far seems to be more true of big bass than it is of little bass. For some reason the bigger fish in any lake or reservoir are more affected by the weather and the moon phase than the little fellows. I have no idea why that is, but I’ve seen it happen all over the country for years and years.
I want to mention something else while it’s on my mind. The optimum spawning temperature for bass is supposed to be around 62-65 degrees. That may be, but don’t kid yourself or miss out on some good fishing because you believe that’s the only time they’ll spawn. If the season is right and the moon is right you’ll see them on the beds at 55 degrees, sometimes even colder than that. That’s especially true of the really big ones.
That’s what I mean when I say not to wait too long. Keep an open mind, and an open eye, on what’s going on around you. Don’t miss some of the best fishing because you waited too long.
Now, let’s look at why all of this is so important.
As we go through late winter and early spring we encounter three kinds of bass. There are prespawn, spawn and postspawn.
Prespawn bass are probably the heaviest. They’re fat with eggs and haven’t expended much energy moving from their winter haunts to their prespawn staging areas. They can also be the toughest to catch. I’ll tell you why next week.