An avid outdoorsman and sportswriter, John Alden Knight perfected his Solunar Theory of fish and game activity over a period of many years making observations while hunting and fishing.
He found that all fish and game - including deer, turkey, bass, and trout - are more active during different times of the day and night. He examined 33 variables to see their effect on hunting times and fishing times. Of the 33, the position of the sun, moon, and tides were determined to be of the utmost importance. He noted that there are two "major" time periods and two "minor" time periods each day that fishing and hunting are most likely to be productive.
Because of the effect of the sun and the moon, he named these times "Solunar Periods" which have been compiled into solunar tables for almost 8 decades now.
“Other conditions not being unfavorable, fish will feed, animals will move about, birds will sing and fly from place to place, in fact, all living things will become more active, more alive, during Solunar periods than at other times of apparent equal value. Those anglers who have had the breadth of vision to follow the schedule, have found that it is a guide to the best fishing of each day, and the quality of their sport has improved...” -- From "Moon Up, Moon Down" by John Alden Knight
Solunar Tables, Tides, and Best Hunting & Fishing Times
The Major Periods last 2-3 hours and peak when the moon is positioned overhead (transit) and positioned underfoot. This is when the combined gravitational forces of the sun and moon are the strongest. The Minor Period times occur roughly half way in between when the moon passes the horizon at moonrise and moonset. Minor Periods generally last half as long as the Major Periods.
The best hunting times and best fishing times occur at the peak of the Major and Minor Periods. These roughly correlate with high tide and low tide times. Tides occur roughly every 12.5 hours, but because they are caused by a complex set of interactions -- the sun and moon's gravitational forces, rotation of the Earth, and the shape of the near-shore bottom -- the tide times will vary somewhat from the solunar table periods. Solunar periods have been equated to "equilibrium tide times", which are the times that tides would occur for a specific longitude if the entire Earth was covered by water.
Effects of the Lunar Cycle, Lunar Phase, and Moon Calendar
The best hunting times and best fishing times also vary day to day through out the month with the moon phase - with the best activity occurring around a Full Moon and New Moon. This is when the the Moon and the Sun's gravitational forces are the strongest.
The lunar phase refers to the percent illumination of the moon as viewed from the Earth. The lunar cycle (time between two full moons) averages 29 1/2 days and varies month to month because the moon's orbit is elliptical. Because the average month is ~30.5 days, the lunar cycle shifts by approximately one day each month. As a result, there one calendar day each month that the moon doesn't rise and one day that the moon doesn't set. This affects the solunar tables such that there will be two days each month during which there is only one Major Period and two days in which there is only one Minor Period. iSolunar™ accounts for this and will return a "NA" value in the appropriate data field.
iSolunar™ Hunting & Fishing Times for the iPhone can provide you with the location-specific solunar data you need to make your next trip a success.