Solunar Forecast: Solunar Theory *
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. Our Solunar Calendar and Predictions are rounded to the
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).
PROVING THE THEORY
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
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 periods.
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
And, finally, when the above times occur during a NEW or FULL MOON, you can
expect the best action of the season!
LENGTH OF PERIODS
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.
BEST FISHING DAYS
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 vicinity.
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 be
Finally, a change in the local weather coinciding with the periods will further
enhance the activity.
WATCH THE WEATHER
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
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
WATCH THE BAROMETER
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.
WATCH THE MOON
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
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.
CALCULATING THE TIMES
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.
AREA COVERED BY THE TIMES
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. 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 should go without saying that if there are no fish or game present, you will
not be successful. It is always to 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.
*Moonup~Moondown ... Library of Congress #72-93383