Think tank

Carpworld - - CHIILED OUT -

What are your thoughts on moon PHASES AND HOW THEY AF­FECT fish feed­ing? Do you have a pref­er­ence to which point in the phase is best and can you ac­tu­ally sub­stan­ti­ate it to cap­tures of big fish?

In all the years I have been an­gling I have al­ways taken no­tice of the moon phases. When I was young I prob­a­bly heard older fish­er­man dis­cussing such things along with wind di­rec­tions and the like (folk­lore) and I was ea­ger to take on board any tips I could get.

I have al­ways kept a moon cal­en­dar – there are lots of fish­ing cal­en­dars and moon phase apps avail­able nowa­days – and when pos­si­ble I would al­ways try and plan to be on the bank at the right times, if there is such a thing.

So when is the right time? The sun, moon, tides and weather all in­flu­ence fish ac­tiv­ity. It seems fish tend to feed more at sun­rise and sun­set, and also dur­ing a full moon. The moon has a mas­sive in­flu­ence on tides, es­pe­cially when the moon is at its clos­est point to the earth.

Let’s face it, we all go fish­ing as and when we can get time, and the best times are when the fish are feed­ing, and this seems to be dusk and dawn – that’s fish in gen­eral not just carp. When I think back to all my fish­ing I have had lots of first light takes – this is def­i­nitely a ma­jor feed­ing time. But dur­ing the 24-hour day pe­riod there are two other pe­ri­ods to con­sider – moon rise and moon set – be­cause the moon has an ef­fect on other fac­tors sur­round­ing the fish, in­clud­ing the live fod­der they hunt. These pe­ri­ods are what trig­ger the feed­ing. Most of the time carp an­glers will fish through moon rises and moon sets without even re­al­is­ing, as there is no vis­ual light change.

Last Christ­mas I was out in Goa. The fish­er­man there rely heav­ily on the fish they catch from the sea to sell at the mar­ket and I thought to my­self they must re­ally know their moon cal­en­dars and best tides, etc. Dur­ing my stay we had the ‘su­per moon’ on Jan­uary 31st – also called the blue moon or a to­tal lu­nar eclipse. That even­ing we all watched the su­per moon rise above the palm trees. It was a fan­tas­tic sight. As I turned and looked to the sea all I was able to see was hun­dreds of lights from the fish­ing boats – I’d never seen that many be­fore, they were all out in force and I as­sume were catch­ing lots. They def­i­nitely be­lieve in the ef­fect of the moon on their fish­ing.

Over the years I have my­self caught some spe­cial fish on, or ei­ther side of, the full moon, and so have lots of my friends. At the end of the day we go when we can, but if fish­ing at these times give you that con­fi­dence then that’s great, but it’s also im­por­tant that you’re ‘on’ the fish...

That’s an in­ter­est­ing ques­tion and one which needs a lot more space than this to take on and an­swer prop­erly. How­ever, I will do my best to sum­marise. In short, the an­swer is a re­sound­ing yes, although I would caveat that slightly.

Hav­ing spent over ten years talk­ing to a huge num­ber of an­glers in our cus­tomer base, we have lads who lit­er­ally go fish­ing what­ever the weather/moon phase/tem­per­a­ture. We also have a small num­ber of an­glers who ab­so­lutely plan their cam­paigns and ses­sions around phases of the moon.

To an­swer the first ques­tion; I don’t think from ev­ery­thing I have seen and heard that there is one phase that is bet­ter than an­other, but to an­swer the sec­ond, I ab­so­lutely think that cer­tain fish have a ten­dency to get caught around cer­tain moon phases com­pared to oth­ers. The lads I men­tioned above (who won’t thank me for nam­ing them in print) all have a great track record of nail­ing tar­get fish af­ter study­ing their catch re­ports and pat­terns and even go as far as book­ing hol­i­day around times when they be­lieve their tar­get fish are due and they have a ten­dency to get it right time and time again. Co­in­ci­dence? I don’t be­lieve it is.

By way of ex­am­ple one of my team caught the big mir­ror Roids from Kingsmead Is­land Lake back in 2013 be­fore it be­came ‘known’. He’s a bit of a carp nerd and went back through its two pre­vi­ous cap­tures that year and re­alised it had been caught three times in a row within a fif­teen minute pe­riod ei­ther side of a perigee of the moon on the same phase each time. Co­in­ci­dence? Again I don’t be­lieve it is.

Now I am no ‘statto’ but with the ad­vent of so­cial me­dia in re­cent years you can’t help but no­tice some cap­tures which keep re­peat­ing them­selves. For ex­am­ple, we’ve all heard the tales about big com­mons and full moons so next time you see the big com­mon in Fox Pool caught, have a look at when... also hasn’t Ian Rus­sell just caught the Snub from Yate­ley North Lake on a full moon phase? Co­in­ci­dence? You de­cide...

Be­ware the were-carps! They only come out on a full moon and they are rav­en­ous beasts that will gorge on any­thing they can nib­ble... Is it me, or is a lot of ut­ter pif­fle writ­ten about moon phases? For the love of God, let’s be a bit prag­matic about this and think about it in a way that’s log­i­cal and based on com­mon sense. When we’re try­ing to defini­tively pin down the ef­fect of a sin­gle en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tor, that may or may not have some kind of in­flu­ence on the feed­ing habits of the carp we fish for, it’s al­ways go­ing to be a bit ‘muddy’ and con­fus­ing.

It’s not like we are able to con­trol (or even ac­cu­rately mon­i­tor) the key feed­ing fac­tors around the rigs – fac­tors such as lo­calised wa­ter tem­per­a­ture, dis­solved oxy­gen and am­mo­nia in small bod­ies of wa­ter like we can in tanks. The other fac­tors that vary, such as light in­ten­sity and photo pe­riod also blur the mix... And please don’t get me started on the very con­cept that the carp are at­tuned to the moon through some evo­lu­tion­ary link to ‘when they lived in the sea’ or the Taser is com­ing out!

I’ve cer­tainly fished on wa­ters and seen ‘ap­par­ent’ pat­terns that would seem to show a peak in cap­tures on the prime moon phases – so my own gut feel­ing is there has to be an in­trin­sic link. But de­spite that I don’t be­lieve for one sec­ond that it’s any­thing but a re­ac­tion to in­ver­te­brate mi­gra­tion and hatches.

In­ver­te­brates have been sci­en­tif­i­cally shown to re­act to moon phases (science = peer re­viewed) and I think that we know that carp re­act to in­ver­te­brate hatches so to ex­trap­o­late more than that is folly. Surely it’s that sim­ple...

I don’t be­lieve in fairies, or pix­ies, or even the su­per­nat­u­ral – and I cer­tainly don’t be­lieve that carp know what moon phase it is! But I do think that the feed­ing stim­u­lus of a sud­den abun­dance of the carp’s nat­u­ral food ap­pear­ing (or per­haps that should read ‘be­com­ing ac­tive and there­fore ex­cret­ing the or­ganic com­pounds that carp are at­tuned to’) is a far more likely/log­i­cal sce­nario that fits neatly in with our ob­ser­va­tions of the aquatic world.

Ei­ther way, it means that wa­ters with the cor­rect in­ver­te­brate pop­u­la­tions should have a propen­sity to be af­fected more pos­i­tively and fish that are more at­tuned to nat­u­ral diet will po­ten­tially drop their guard in these pe­ri­ods too. Or is that one as­sump­tion too far?


CAPTIONS1 - Some be­lieve the full moon is the night of big com­mons2 - Sun­down looks good for a bite3 - Full moon on a cold Jan­uary 2


JERRY HAM­MOND Age: Rea­son­ably young... Favourite venue: Cartha­gena UK PB: 54lb 14oz mir­ror

CAPTIONS1 - The Back Up com­mon – caught dur­ing the full moon cy­cle in May 2 - Es­sex Manor’s Bream com­mon, caught on the new moon cy­cle, a few years ago now3 - This is the Novem­ber full moon. If you had to choose one, this would be my favourite of the year. There’s got to be some­thing in it, hasn’t there? 2



ASH BRAD­BURY Age: 37 Favourite venue: Tol­pits UK PB: The Am­phib­ian at 58lb 2oz

1 2

LEWIS READ Age: 40-some­thing Favourite venue: A cer­tain Hert­ford­shire club wa­ter UK PB: The fa­mous Heather the Leather at 47lb 12oz

CAPTIONS1 - A full moon stun­ner, caught dur­ing the full moon around bon­fire night last year2 - Set­tling down for the even­ing dur­ing mid­sum­mer, when I felt the time was right...

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