Many avid fishermen have experienced days when the fish simply refuse to strike their lures and even refuse to take their live or cut bait but then, for reasons unknown, the fish suddenly and mysteriously change their minds and begin an apparent feeding frenzy. In addition, many fishermen have also noticed that fish seem to feed avidly for a short period preceding sunrise and for a short time afterward and then repeat this phenomenon at sunset even on days when they seem uninclined to feed during the intervening hours. Consequently, this has long led fishermen to attempt to determine the controlling factor that initiates this behavior in order to make their time on the water more productive which eventually led to the development of something called Solunar Theory which is based on the movements of the Sun and the Moon and how they affect not only the Earth’s tides but, also fish feeding behavior.

     In fact, the term “Solunar” is derived from the Latin word “Sol” which means “Sun” and the Latin word “Lunar” which means “Moon” and was coined by a fellow named John Alden Knight in 1926 to describe his new Solunar Theory. Of course, John Knight was an avid fisherman who lived in Florida and, like other avid fishermen, he too noticed that there seemed to be certain times of the day when fish seemed to feed more voraciously that at other times. Consequently, like many other fishermen, his observations led him to wonder what triggered the sudden onset of these feeding frenzies and thus, he began to take careful note of both weather and environmental factors in an attempt to determine the cause so that he could accurately predict on which days and at which times the fishing would be most productive. In addition, as all fishermen do, he also discussed his observations with his fishing buddies as well as with local commercial fishermen and slowly, he began so see a pattern developing. Therefore, because Mr. Knight was also a Naturalist, he decided to approach the problem from the point of view of a scientist thus, he eventually created a list of 33 factors which he felt either influenced or controlled the feeding behavior of fish. However, out of those original 33 factors, Knight eventually discarded all of them except for the influence of the Sun, the Moon and, the tides.

     But, Knight also eventually came to the conclusion that neither the ambient from the Sun nor the Moon could account for the observed peaks in fish behavior because the periods of peak fish feeding activity seemed to occur at different times during the day and/or night and thus, some other factor must be the cause. But, his own observations combined with the information he had gathered by talking to other local fishermen caused him to believe that they must have at least some merit. Therefore, he eventually began to wonder if perhaps it was the movement of the Earth around the Sun combined with the movement of the Moon around the Earth that was responsible for the peaks in fish feeding behavior. Consequently, Knight first considered the times at which the Moon rose and set but, his research eventually determined that there were two additional peaks in fish feeding activity that occurred between moonrise and moonset. Thus, he decided to the call the two more obvious periods “major” periods and the two less obvious periods “minor” periods.

     So, based upon both his own observations and the information that he had gathered from speaking to other local fishermen, Knight created and published a set of "Solunar Tables" that provided anglers with the ability to accurately predict the peak periods of fish feeding activity by taking into account the geographic location of a base point and then adjusting for Daylight Savings Time when appropriate. Consequently, because the Moon seems to be the main controlling body, Knight's Solunar Tables demonstrate that fish feed most actively when the Moon and the Sun's gravitational forces are strongest which occurs when both bodies are directly above, or directly below, a given location. 

     Therefore, whenever one of the aforementioned Major or Minor periods falls within 30 minutes to one hour of sunrise or sunset, you can expect a significant increase in fish feeding activity. Also, whenever you have a moonrise or a moonset during that same period, fish will feed even more activity. Plus, whenever, these periods occur during either a new Moon or a full Moon, fish seem to feed the most actively of all.

     However, because there was so much controversy surrounding the efficacy of Solunar Theory, Dr. Frank A. Brown, who is a biologist at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois, decided to conduct an experiment using oysters that he had shipped to his laboratory. However, the reason that Dr. Brown chose to use oysters for his experiment is that oysters are filter feeders and thus, because they open their shells with each high tide, Dr. Brown wanted to see if this regular feeding cycle was initiated by the change in the depth of the water or to an unseen force generated by the Moon’s gravitational influence. So, he placed his oysters in a saltwater aquarium and isolated from them from sunlight and then, for the first week, he observed that the oysters continued to open and close their shells according to the schedule of high and low tides in the location where they were collected despite the water level in his aquarium remaining constant! However, by the second week, the oysters adjusted their feeding cycle to match that of the times when the Moon was either directly overhead or directly underfoot in Dr. Brown’s location which means that they had indeed adjusted their feeding cycle to match the tidal phases that would occur in that location if it were part of an ocean even though Dr. Brown’s oysters were living in an aquarium! Therefore, Dr. Brown concluded that the oysters in his aquarium were indeed responding to an unseen force that corresponded with the location of the Moon and not to rising or falling tides.

     Consequently, Solunar Theory is now widely accepted as an accurate method of predicting periods of peak fish feeding activity and Solunar Tables are widely available both in print and on the Web. Therefore, knowledgeable fishermen now consult these Solunar Tables in order to enable them to plan their fishing trips to coincide with times of peak fish feeding activity in order to be on the water when the fish are feeding most actively because the universal goal of all fishermen is to catch more fish!

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