Solunar Tables (Fact or Fiction)
Think The Solunar Tables Work?
MUSKY HUNTERS! As you know, there probably has been more written about Musky fishing than there are Muskies! Maybe you think that you know most everything there is about the great sport, or maybe you are just starting out. Well, this article will add to what you think you know, or what you have read, or maybe you already know what I’m going to discuss. At any rate, use the information, or just keep on doing what you want. In any case, if you have an open mind, please read on.
The 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 its 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. Knight’s tables are then rounded to the nearest 10 minutes.
An example of the deviation in time in a particular state would be Texas. The time difference from El Paso on the western border and Hemphill on the eastern border is 51 minutes (Hemphill is 51 minutes earlier than El Paso).
Time on the water lead me to believe this:
On the good days there are always times when the fish seem more ravenous and more plentiful than at other times of that same day. These periods, as a rule, last about two hours. All of us try to plan to take advantage of those feeding periods at dawn and dusk. But the “odd-hour” periods which occur during the day – and night– must be stumbled upon by luck unless you have a crystal ball, or just maybe you could follow the Solunar Tables! Think back…..Remember the day, when it was hot and sunny and nothing was happening! No follows, no hits and not even as much as a Seagull swooping the water…..You had been up since 5:00 A.M. and your arms were just about ready to fall off. It was about 10:00 o’clock and you were about ready to call it a day. Well, you thought! I’ll make one more cast to the edge of a promising weed bed…..You flipped your bucktail, started your retrieve and all hell broke lose! You got your first Musky of the day. It only measured about 33 inches, so you quickly released it. You continued to get follows and near misses for the next hour. Why all of a sudden could this be happening? Well, I would bet you $37 bucks it all happened during a major period shown on the Solunar tables.
Years ago, before I started to use the Solunar Tables, I became aware that most of my action came between the hours of 9:30 am and 3:30 pm. Why I thought? I just could not figure it out, so I started to ask questions of some of the locals and other Musky Hunters. Finally a friend of mine read something about Solunar Tables, and he told me about them. At first I though he was just pulling my leg and I resisted the idea. Well, I thought what did I have to loose! I checked the tables and noted that without fail, there was a major feeding period around 10:00 AM when I caught my Muskies, and had most of my action….. This was the same story around 2:00 PM on many days.
I quickly learned that I did not have to break my ass getting to the boat launch at day break. All I needed was enough time to launch my boat and get to my first spot before 9:30 AM. You see, there are two majors and two minor periods every day. Most of the time the majors are at mid-morning and mid-afternoon. The minors are generally in the early morning and later on in the evening. Records show that most trophy Muskies are caught between the hours of 10:00 am and 2:00 pm. Most of the Musky hunters I knew at the time, including myself, pounded the water from day break to around nine or ten in the morning! Then they would get off the lake, slow down or just fish for another species of fish, in time to miss the 1st major of the day…..In many cases they would not get back on the lake until the evening hours, missing the second major of the day, as well. Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?
Now, when I fish for Muskies, I put in most of my efforts during the majors and relax at other times of the day. Isn’t Musky fishing trying enough without causing self inflected pain? There will be days when the Musky fishing will be better than one’s most optimistic forecast, others when it is far worse. Either is a gain over working or just sitting home thinking about your next fishing trip! Thanks for Looking…..Good Fishing!