Fishing charters around Cocoa Beach and other spots throughout Florida have to keep a close eye on weather conditions and other factors that can affect their trips. They not only do this for the safety of their patrons, but also to get an understanding of how the fishing will be and whether they should make any adjustments to their plans.
One factor that can affect fishing is the moon phase (i.e. full moon, new moon, first quarter and third quarter).
Although other conditions like the weather also play a role, many anglers like to time their outings around certain times during the lunar cycle when fish will be more active.
We invite you to continue reading to learn more about how certain phases during the lunar cycle can help improve your odds of hauling in a sizable catch aboard fishing charters in Cocoa Beach.
It’s not the moon itself that affects fishing on the flats, but rather the moon’s effect on the tides…
If you’re flats fishing in the Indian River Lagoon, the moon’s phase can have a pretty significant impact on what’s biting.
Experienced anglers know that the best fishing occurs when the gamefish are feeding on crabs, shrimp, bait fish and other food sources. On a daily basis, the 90 minutes around the sunrise, sunset, moonrise and moonset are prime feeding times for Speckled Trout, Redfish, Snapper and other inshore species.
However, if it’s a full moon or new moon, the chances of encountering more gamefish increase dramatically according to many anglers.
This is due to the impact the full and new moons have on making tides stronger.
When tides are coming in or going out during these periods, the tidal flow, or current, is much stronger. This means that bait like crabs, shrimp and small fish will move at a much higher rate as well.
Fish will be able determine when this is occurring. They will then move to spots where they will find high concentrations of their bait (food) and feast on the smorgasbord.
Many gamefish are unable to reach many parts of the grass flats due to how shallow the water typically is. Bait like shrimp and crabs live in these areas – for most of the month, they are protected from predators. However, when the tide washes in, the fish will be able to reach these spots and enjoy a good meal.
If fishing offshore, the full moon will illuminate the water and allow large gamefish like Marlin, Sailfish and Tuna to see their bait throughout the night. This also allows anglers to get a better view of what’s in the water. However, the caveat here is that the weather must be clear in order for the moon’s light to get through.
Fishing charters and general anglers need to read lunar tables to determine when the full and new moon will take place in a given month…
The entire lunar phase or cycle occurs like clockwork every 28 days, so it’s pretty easy to determine when the full and new moon will take place. While it is possible to figure this out on your own, there are various tables online and in fishing magazines that will help you pinpoint the best time to come.
It’s important to remember that other factors besides the moon phase can affect the fishing too.
For example, if any severe weather events are about to occur or just ended, the fish will be feeding even more vigorously. An approaching cold front on the other hand will cause the fish to move to deeper water and be less active until the weather warms back up.
Another factor that can affect the bite is the changing of the seasons. While the change of seasons isn’t as noticeable as they are in locations farther north, the fish certainly know the weather is changing because of the water temperature.
According to years of careful observation, many anglers believe the change from winter to spring and summer to fall present some amazing opportunities to catch popular gamefish.
It’s understandable that planning your trip around the phases of the moon can be difficult. For most us, we go when our schedule allows. While it’s still likely you’ll catch a nice Redfish, Permit or Tarpon if you go on a “regular” day, timing your trip around the full and new moon phases and being in the spots where the fish are feeding will dramatically increase your odds of hauling in a nice catch.
Fortunately, it’s easy to find a lunar table online that will tell you the exact dates a new and/or full moon will occur. Since they run on such a predictable cycle, you can check these dates several months out.
Captain Jim Ross operates fishing charters in the waters around Cocoa Beach and has decades of experience reading the weather and moon phases to determine the best times for fishing the Indian River Lagoon and spots offshore. We invite you to visit http://www.captjimross.com/ to learn more about these excursions, or visit the reservations page to see if your desired date is available.