In 1926 John Alden Knight* postulated some folk lore he picked up in
Florida and proceeded to attempt a refinement, giving it the name
Solunar (Sol for sun and Lunar for moon). Knight compiled a list of 33
factors which influence or control day-to-day behavior of fresh and
salt-water fish. Everything was taken into account that could possibly
have any bearing on the matter.
One by one the factors were examined and rejected. Three of them,
however, merited further examination. They were sun, moon and tides.
Surely the sun could have no effect since it’s cycle was the same day
after day, whereas the observed activity periods of fish were apt to
be present at most any time of the day or night. The moon had already
been weighed and found wanting. Tides? Surely there could be no tidal
movement in a trout stream.
But the fact remained, however, that the tides had always guided
salt-water fishermen to good fishing. Could it be that the prompting
stimulus lay in the influence of the sun and moon which cause the
ocean tides, rather than the actual tidal stages or flow?
When the original research was being done only the approximate time of
moon up - moon down were considered. Gradually, it became evident that
there were also intermediate periods of activity that occurred midway
between the two major periods. Thus the more evident periods were
called MAJOR PERIODS and the two intermediate periods, shorter in
length, were called MINOR PERIODS.
One convincing experiment was when Dr. Frank A. Brown, a biologist at
Northwestern University, had some live oysters flown to his lab near
Chicago. Oysters open their shells with each high tide, and Dr. Brown
wanted to see if this was due to the change in ocean levels or to a
force from the moon itself. He put them in water and removed them from
all sunlight. For the first week they continued to open their shells
with the high tides from their ocean home. But by the second week,
they had adjusted their shell-openings to when the moon was directly
overhead or underfoot in Chicago.
Knight first published his tables in 1936. Then, and today, one must
calculate the precise times from each table taking into account the
geographic location (east or west) of a base point (Time Zone), and
adjusted for Daylight Savings Time when appropriate. The tables are
rounded to the nearest 10 minutes.
An example of the deviation in time in a particular state would be
Texas here the times from El Paso on the western border and Hemphill
on the eastern border is 51 minutes (Hemphill is 51 minutes earlier
than El Paso).
To substantiate the theory, insofar as fish are concerned, John Alden
Knight attempted a systematic inquiry to acquire complete details
surrounding the capture of record catches. Both individual large fish
... and large numbers.
He examined approximately 200 of these catches. Over 90 percent were
made during the dark of the moon (new moon) when the effects of of the
periods appear to be greatest, and, more important, they were made
during the actual times of the Solunar Periods.
Initially, only the behavior of fish was considered. During 1935 to
1939 Knight made extensive studies of game birds and animals. As had
been suspected, these also responded to the prompting stimulus of the
It is now known that the sun and moon are the two major sources of the
astral energies that daily bombard the Earth and all her life forms.
The closer they are to you at any given moment,
the stronger the influence. The day of a NEW or FULL MOON will provide
the strongest influence in each month.
June always has more combined sun-moon influence than any other month.
During a FULL MOON the sun and moon are nearly opposite each other and
very few minutes pass without one
or the other being in our sky. During a NEW MOON, both bodies are in
near-perfect rhythm traveling the skies together with their forces
combined. Because of the interaction between the many lunar and solar
cycles, no two days, months or years are identical.
When a period falls within 30 minutes to an hour of sunrise or sunset
you can anticipate great action!
When you have a moonrise or moonset during that period the action will
be even greater.
And, finally, when the above times occur during a NEW or FULL MOON,
you can expect the best action of the season!
Every fisherman knows that fish do not feed all the time. He knows,
also, that for some reason fish often go on the feed and take most any
offering, be it live bait or artificial. This sort of thing happens,
according to John Alden Knight (the originator of the theory) during a
period. To be sure, fish usually feed actively at sunrise and sunset,
but generally, the real fishing of the day is at the “odd hour”
feeding periods. If the weather and feeding conditions are favorable
the fish will be active for one to two hours.
For those fishermen who enjoy fishing at sunrise and sunset here are
the absolute best dates to be on the water at your favorite spot.
These are the Major or Minor Periods that fall near the times of
Sunrise or Sunset during a Full or New Moon. It has been documented
that when this condition exists fish will bite on anything they see or
smell. Limits are almost guaranteed provided there are fish in the
It’s no secret that fish and game tend to feed during dawn and dusk
(sunrise and sunset). What amplifies the activity is the effect of a
moonrise or moonset plus the specific monthly periods of New (dark)
and Full (light) Moons.
When the times coincide with a moon-rise or a moon-set the action can
Finally, a change in the local weather coinciding with the periods
will further enhance the activity.
For an interesting article on this subject, visit "The Real Scoop" on
using the theory to your advantage.
For best results the tables must be used intelligently. Every day will
not show a clear-cut reaction to a period. In the case of fish,
barometric fluctuations, particularly when the trend is down, often
ruin fishing. All wildlife knows what to expect of the weather, and
any bird, animal or fish can sense the approach of a storm. Cold
fronts moving through drive all fish deeper and render them inactive.
Adverse temperature, abnormal water conditions, all sorts of things
will offset the effects of periods. However, every sportsman knows
that it is beyond all reason to expect good fishing or hunting every
day. The theory will point the way to the best in sport that each day
has to offer, but in no sense is it a guarantee.
Intensity of activity also varies from day to day, according to
conditions in general. If the barometer happens to be steady or
rising, if the temperature is favorable (15 degrees higher than water
temp) then long and active response to a period can be expected.
Another thing to remember in dealing with the periods is that solunar
influence will vary in intensity according to the position of the
moon. The times of new moon (the dark of the moon), and there is no
moon in the sky, is the time of maximum intensity.
Ocean tides reflect this intensity in their magnitude. This maximum
will last about three days, and wildlife respond with maximum
activity. Thereafter the degree of intensity tapers off until it is at
its minimum during the third quarter phase of the moon.
Salt-water anglers argue that tides have a greater influence on fish
feeding habits than the moon itself. It must be understood that the
tides are governed by the phases and transit of the moon. Certain
marine phenomena occur with precise regularity during the lunar month
and solar/lunar cycle.
Research has shown that a natural day for fish and many other
animal species differ from our own. Their biological clock appears to
coincide with lunar time, which is the time that it takes for the moon
to reappear at a given point during one complete rotation of the earth
(an average of 24 hours and 53 minutes. This is called a Tidal Day and
explains why the ocean tides are about an hour later each day - and
why most fish, fresh water species included, will feed up to an hour
later (in relation to our solar clock) each day.
The key to accurate Solunar Times is the ability to chart the relative
solar and lunar positions with respect to a particular location. The
major periods coincide with the upper and lower meridian passage of
the resultant gravitational (tidal) force.
The minor periods occur when these forces are rising or setting on
either horizon, i.e., the right ascension of the resultant force and
the local sidereal time vary by 90 or 270 degrees. The major periods
occur when these forces are at 0 and 180 degrees apart.
The times produced are known as EQUILIBRIUM TIDE TIMES, i.e., the
times of low and high tides if the Earth were completely covered by
water. Our program calculates the solar and lunar positions with an
accuracy of .25 degrees allowing accuracy to be within 1 minute in
time. The times will change one minute for each 12 miles east or west
of the base point.
There is one day each month (near the last quarter of the moon) on
which there is no moonrise. This is normal and occurs because the
moon’s average period between two rises and sets is approximately 24
hours and 50 minutes. Thus there will always be a day on which a
moonrise (and a Solunar Time) will not fit. Note also that moonrise
can occur at any time during the day or night.
The quantities required for computing the times are eliptic longitudes
of the Sun and Moon, the right ascension (RA) of the moon, and the
local sidereal time of the observer's position.
It goes without saying that if there are no fish or game present, you
will not be successful. Plan your days on the water or in the field so
that you are where the game is most likely to be during the periods.
We hope that we have been able to improve your understanding of the
theory - and how you can use it to improve your angling success.
But always remember ... the BEST time to go fishin’ ... is whenever
you can and always practice catch and release.
*Moonup~Moondown ... Library of Congress #72-93383