Lunar Fishing Myths: Is There a Best Moon Phase for Carp Fishing?

by | Carp, Advanced |

The notion that moon phases have a potential impact on carp and their willingness to feed is something that some of you will likely have heard about at some point. Others however will be left scratching their heads, most likely feeling a little bemused at the idea.

It all goes back to an issue of Carp-Talk magazine, where Simon Crow wrote a column entitled ‘What Gets ’em Going?’. At first this piece doesn’t appear particularly special, a few paragraphs on the variables that influence carp and their desire to feed. It’s not until you reach the final 100 words or so, where ‘the influence of the moon’ is referenced, that you realise this was the article that got the debate really started.

Sixteen weeks later, in the same magazine no less, Tim Paisley wrote a return effort, called ‘Crowy’s Anecdotal Pants’. In it, Tim scrutinised every word of Simon’s piece, made his own feelings very clear and challenged Carp-Talk to utilise their exclusive position and publish catch report data. Someone at Carp-Talk heeded the call and published a complete set of catch reports from December 2006 to December 2007. Here we revisit that data.

Throughout a three week session I caught only two carp, one during the new moon and one during the full moon. Did the different phases of the moon really have any impact?

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Methodology

Carp-Talk’s analysis of a whole year’s worth of data was solid. It was primarily made up of catch reports submitted via an online form, but also incorporating documentation from a range of sources. The analysis only included UK carp and excluded any fish under 30lb to keep things simple.

This left the authors with 1,875 catches to work with, but didn’t address a problem you’re probably thinking of… Some anglers are known to, let’s say ‘embellish the truth’. Unfortunately, there is no real way to tell by looking at a catch report form, if there are any ‘embellishments’ or not. Therefore, the authors made the decision to include them, after all these anglers are a marginal group and any patterns related to moon phases will still show through anyway.

Finally, to make things as accurate as possible, a catch report would only be included if it had a defined date of capture, so for example ‘July’ would not be allowed.

In addition to looking at moon phases, this analysis also factored in weather data for 2007, supplied by the Met office and included over 28 variables. If that wasn’t thorough enough, it was detailed every thirty minutes.

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Sadly big European carp like this were excluded from the results

Moon phases

A complete cycle of the various moon phases takes approximately 29.5 days (from new moon to new moon), by combining the data for each of these days we get the table below. This shows that over the course of a year, each of the 29 days has an irregular number of catches. Whilst there is no obvious pattern, there is a discernible wave to it, suggesting there are times within each phase that are more productive.

Average number of captures per moon phase. No clear pattern, but a discernible wave perhaps?

So what if we look at each of the four quarters? These moon quarters are referenced regularly by carp anglers who believe they influence the carp and their behaviour. The chart below shows the split of all the captures that were recorded against the recognised quarters of the moon; I don’t think anyone would argue it’s favourable for any specific quarter. I actually think that if more captures had been included it may well have been have been perfectly balanced at 25% each.

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A rather balanced picture

It is only fair to reference the fact that many anglers who believe in the impact of the moon on carp talk about it being site specific (e.g. a full moon is better on my local lake). Unfortunately, this study didn’t take this into consideration and perhaps by focusing on a particular water, the results would be different.

A summary of the different moon phases

Meteorological findings

Despite the analysis focusing mainly on the moon’s influence, it did consider and build in the UK’s weather patterns. As people in Britain, we all know that the number one topic of conversation is weather, with temperature being a particularly well versed subject. The chart below shows there is no real link, other than the mean for captures increasing in line with the mean for temperature through spring and autumn, probably due to anglers recognising this to be the most productive time in the UK.

A summary of the different moon phases

Comparing catch data to air pressure also held some surprising results, again there seems to be very little correlation. There’s the odd occasion where the pressure drops and catches increase, but this didn’t seem to be consistent and there were plenty of times where the opposite was shown. Maybe the authors should have compared solar radiation against captures instead, this is what warms the aquatic world more than air temperature.

Conclusion

In summary, it feels as though a further study is needed that includes the captures of smaller carp. On balance it doesn’t seem realistic that a carp 30lb or above would be any more predisposed to the influence of the moon than a 29lb carp.

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I think based on these results, if the moon does have an impact on carp, it’s very slight, so any further studies would be more reliable if they took place over the course of years, to finally put this interesting but controversial topic to bed.