There’s a simple answer to the question, “When is the best time to go fishing?”
The answer: “Anytime you get a chance.”
While that is definitely true, there are times when you can improve your odds of finding fish in the mood to bite. Sunrise and sunset have traditionally been two of those; there’s something about that first and last hours of daylight that rings the dinner bell for fish.
And then, there are the Solunar Tables.
There are several versions that can provide a baseline tool to determine when fish may generally feed more intensely or for longer periods. These tables are based on moon phases — major periods are when the moon is straight overhead and minor periods are when the moon is directly underfoot. And that backs up the sunrise and sunset theory. When the sun rises or sets at the same time the moon is directly overhead, those are the best times to fish, based on the signs Mother Nature gives us.
And fishermen who spend the most time on the water are often the ones who pay the most attention to the tables.
“There’s always a first thing in the morning and a last thing in the evening bite,” said Adam Jaynes of Just Fish Guide Service, who guides saltwater fishermen in the Calcasieu/Sabine area. “It may be 5 minutes, or it may be an hour. But it will be there unless something weird is going on. It’s consistent.
“I’m a big believer in charts and moon phases. It’s science, so it’s hard to explain, but it’s like playing a sport or buying a lottery ticket. Any information that can help you get an advantage is worth paying attention to. I always, always recommend that people make sure they have a line in the water during the minor and major times, not be running up and down the water.”
The effects of solunar forces are more obvious in saltwater situations, where the phases of the moon are tied to the tide.
“I’m not a big fan of generalizations, and these discussions are generalizations, but I do believe in them,” he said. “I go fishing almost every day, and I don’t get to pick and choose when to go. We go at daylight and fish most of the day, so we fish to make them bite anytime we can. If you limited your fishing to just early, late and the major times, you wouldn’t spend much time on the water.”
Jaynes also said the same thing applies, whether you are 100 miles off the coast or up in the marsh.
The same applies in freshwater, according to Homer Humphreys of Minden, a former bass pro who guides on Lake Bistineau, Lake Claiborne and the Red River in northern Louisiana.
“There are times when fishing, in general, is a bit better than others, but there’s an exception on everything. Just like you know to plant potatoes around Valentine’s Day; that may not always end up being right,” he said. “You can catch fish early and late and when the Solunar Tables say most of the time. But that isn’t the only go-to time for sure.”
“You’ve just got to spend time on the water and believe in what you are doing and what you are seeing yourself. You can’t just go an hour in the morning and afternoon, or when the tables say to and catch fish. You’ve got to spend time on the water and be confident you can catch them. Think about bass tournament fishermen. They miss the first hour of the day waiting in line for takeoffs. They don’t ever fish late in the day in a tournament. And they catch bags full of bass.”
That proves one of the major exceptions Humphreys has found. He said the majority of his big bass have been caught between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. It’s the best time, long-term, for production of big fish, he said. Then, when the Solunar Tables, weather, barometric pressure and that time frame all match up, you certainly don’t want to miss it. Humphreys said that is true for crappie as well as bass.
“Pay attention when you are fishing,” he says. “You will notice at certain times of the day, the squirrels will be running on the tree limbs, snakes will be slithering across the water, birds will be flying and feeding and the old catfish and stuff will start rolling. Get on your best spot and get your bait in the water then. That’s Mother Nature telling you it’s on.”
You can reach Capt. Jaynes at 409-988-3901 or justfishsabine.com and Homer Humphreys at 318-422-1192.