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"Under the Solar/Lunar Influence"
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Articles such as this by Rick Taylor have appeared in Outdoor Life, BassMaster Magazine, Fishing Facts, and others.

Also read "Be There When They're Biting" By Mark O'Connor


The fact is the moon does have an influence on the earth and its life forms. Its overhead and underfoot positions generate the tides each day and can lift the earth's crust a foot or so. A human baby's time from conception to birth is exactly nine lunar months, and more of us are born during the new or full moon than any other phase. Studies have shown that when shut off from outside stimuli, namely sunlight, many creatures will adjust their daily routine to the lunar day (approximately 24 hours and 50 minutes long).

There have been numerous scientific experiments conducted on the subject, but one of the more convincing was when Dr. Frank A. Brown, a biologist at Northwestern University, had some live oysters plucked from their home off the seashore of Connecticut and flown to his lab near Chicago. Oysters are known to open their shells in tune 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 placed the oysters in a shallow pan of water and shut them off from sunlight. For the first week, they continued to open their shells in tune with the high tides in Connecticut. But by the second week, they adjusted their shell-openings to each time the moon was overhead and underfoot Chicago. Dr. Brown theorized that this had to be a direct force from the moon, and that it was probably electromagnetic energy, which interacts with the electromagnetic fields surrounding the oysters.

It's understandable, then, why most anglers and hunters today consult some type of moon table regularly. But there still remain general misconceptions of this mystical orb's role in when fish and game become active. Part of the problem stems from the moon table itself, which, quite frankly, may not be as accurate, complete, or honest as it could be. Whether by accident or design, it can imply that the moon is the end-all-be-all of when to go. Just calling the moon's overhead position "Major" strongly suggests it is to be considered the best time to go that day, regardless of what other influences may exist.

And there most certainly are other influences. True, some are difficult to predict, like the fish's current state of health, appetite, or mind. Others, like the weather or high water, can't be predicted by any calendar, but can be factored in when the time comes.

But there's one other element that is not only just as predictable as the moon, it often has more to do with when fish and game become active than anything. Yet, despite this importance, you won't find it receiving any more than lip service in any moon table.

Solar Power

Some of you more experienced anglers have been keying on the major solar periods since before Patton was a private. You've learned that one of the best times to go bass fishing in July, for example, is during that dawn period, when the overheated shallows are at their coolest and the fish are being stimulated by darkness suddenly turning into light. During cold months you know that the high-noon to dusk period is often the best, because now the chilly shallows are at their warmest of the day.

There is just no denying that dawn starts the bio-engine of most life on earth each day, and dusk shuts it down. Even in the case of nocturnal creatures, these two events provide the primary starting and stopping points.

Then there's the high-noon period, when the sun is at its most direct position overhead. Besides being a half-way point between dawn and dusk (i.e.: lunch time), it's also when the sun's light and heat energy suddenly penetrate very deeply into the water. This can spark plankton blooms at the medium to lower depths, which induces baitfish to move and feed, and in turn can stimulate gamefish to do the same thing. Experienced anglers have found that this high-noon period is often a good time to fish deeper, and this may be why.

High-noon also sees the sun's strongest electromagnetic energy, which theoretically is the same force coming down from the moon. This makes the sun's underfoot position at mid-night also a viable period.

Leaving the sun out of the mix is like listening to the Super Bowl on the radio. Something is missing. Still, these solar patterns have their ups and downs, too. For no apparent reason the fish suddenly stop biting at the prescribed times, and out comes our moon table.

The Solar/Lunar Tandem

It's almost like a tug-of-war between these two celestial objects. On the one side we have the sun, urging fish and game to follow its dawn-to-dusk-to-dawn cycle and the changes in temperatures, winds, and light levels it causes. On the other side is the maverick moon, coming overhead 50 minutes later each day, sending down enough mysterious energy to coax many species off their solar routines and onto a more erratic one. It's hard to say if the bass and walleyes are confused. A lot of people are.

But underneath this apparent discord lies predictable patterns to the moon and sun's influence. In fact, there are times when the two sing together in almost perfect harmony to produce potentially strong fish-feeding, game-moving periods. Not everyone knows about these, and even fewer look for them. You would need a moon table, because the lunar element in the equation is never constant from one day to the next. On the other hand, these exceptional periods are not highlighted in any moon table, because such a forecaster would have to chart the key solar cycles, as well. Yes, some tables use terms like "solunar," implying they do incorporate the sun. But in truth there's only one that does.

PrimeTimes

Like the better moon tables, PrimeTimes says the best lunar times occur when the moon is passing overhead, then again when its underfoot (the same configuration that causes the two high tides each day). It also agrees that in general the full, new, and half moon phases are the better days of each month. But that's where the similarities end.

First and foremost, PrimeTimes considers the sun in all aspects of its predictions. Secondly, using scientific concepts, precise astrophysical data, and a comprehensive computer program, it analyzes every minute of every day to calculate activity patterns, then relays its information to you via easy-to-follow charts and graphs.

Best Days for Fishing & Hunting

The Best Days of the Month" chart at the top of each PrimeTimes Wall Calendar page rates each day's overall potential on a scale of 0 to 100 (with 100 the best and 50 being average). This is because there's more to a "good" day than just the lunar phase. The laws of astrophysics say that the closer the moon is to the earth (its apogee/perigee cycle), the stronger its force. This becomes glaringly evident when you consider the fact that back when life was forming in the sea, the moon was five times closer to the earth than it is now, and as a result, the tides it produced were a mile high!

Also important is how directly overhead the moon comes each day, known as its "high/low cycle." Again, physics demands that the better two objects line up (try this with two bar magnets), the more "pull" there is between their electromagnetic fields. The sun's high/low cycle also plays a part in this. But while it takes the sun 365 days to complete its cycle (summer to winter and back to summer), the moon knocks off its high/low cycle every month.

Consequently, while a typical moon table gives equal billing to the new and full moons every month, PrimeTimes points out that these two phases rarely deserve the same rating. For example, let's say the day of the full moon this month has a rating of 68, while the day of the new moon gets only 55. As we just said, there are number of reasons (cycles) for this, but one of the main ones will be because the new moon is occurring quite closely to a "low" (weaker) moon, while the full moon has the same proximity to the "high" moon, giving it extra power. A few months down the road the new moon will be occurring much closer to the high moon and take its turn at being the stronger of the two phases. (Actually, this game of cat-and-mouse among the different cycles can even have a half moon being stronger than the full or new moon that month.)

The Best Times for Fishing & Hunting

The length of PrimeTimes' lunar periods are in a constant state of flux, lasting anywhere from approximately one hour to 3.5 hours, depending on those key solar and lunar cycles mentioned earlier. As a rule of thumb, the shorter periods are associated with that "low" moon, plus somewhat to apogee (when the moon is farthest away). These are the days you could expect the moon to be relatively weak, and may want to focus first on those solar periods of dawn, high-noon, or dusk, whichever that particular season calls for.

But where PrimeTimes really rises above other tables is that it alerts you to those special situations every month that, as we mentioned earlier, few people think about, much less look for. These occur whenever a lunar period overlaps a solar period, creating a double-whammy you may not want to miss. It's more than just a doubling up of the forces that act on fish and game, it's also sudden harmony from a previously out-of-sync rhythm, not unlike Mrs. Hayward's sixth-grade band suddenly playing all the right notes at the right time.

For example, let's say the moon is passing overhead in the predawn hours of 3:11 to 6:21 a.m. Theoretically, the fish in our favorite lake are being urged to feed at this time, with the strongest influence hitting them around 4:30 a.m., when the moon is at its zenith. Unfortunately, it's still dark, so whether they answer the call is hard to say. Then, around 6:00 a.m., just as the moon's influence is waning, dawn breaks, and the fish are again being zapped with a feeding stimulus, this time a solar one. Another tough call. Any that did feed when the moon was in force, may not at dawn, and vice versa.

Ah, but look what starts to happen two days later. Now the moon is passing overhead at dawn. For the next three days our fish are hit with these two feeding stimuli at the same time. The force is doubled and the coordination is great. Not a bad time to be on the water.

It's very easy to see whenever these overlaps occur in PrimeTimes, because one of the lunar humps will be right on top of one of the solar humps. And if that doesn't call your attention to the event, the fish/game symbols directly below that overlap certainly will. (Best Times sample)

As a footnote, you may find it interesting to know that the only time one of the lunar periods overlaps dawn and/or dusk is during a half-moon phase. And the only times one overlaps the high-noon (sun overhead) and/or mid-night (sun underfoot) solar periods is during the new and full moon phases. Is it coincidental that these are the same lunar phases associated with the best days to go each month?

In Closing

This PrimeTimes system is not the final word in the best times and days to go fishing and hunting. You need to keep its data in perspective, as you also consider the other, less-predictable variables each time out. But it is the best look into the future the outdoor world has to date. By basically adding an accurate "sun table" to an accurate "moon table," then carefully analyzing the ever-changing relationship between these two celestial objects and the earth, we have an excellent indicator of the more important, predictable factors. (Sample) If you've been following some moon table regularly, your success rate should increase substantially with PrimeTimes. If this is your first attempt with any activity calendar, you couldn't have started at a better time.


This article generally was excerpted from Rick Taylor's book, "How to Know When to Go (The Art and Science of Predicting the Best Times to Fish and Hunt)." To get your own copy or any of our other products, click here.



BE THERE WHEN THEY'RE BITING

By Mark O'Connor, Outdoor Writer

I'll admit, for many years I was skeptical of these so-called "moon tables." I couldn't fathom how a ball of rocks and dust some 250,000 miles away could possibly influence my beloved bass, deer or anything on Earth for that matter. But a lot of other people seemed to be using them, so I thought I'd give one an honest try.

It said the four good times of any given day were when the moon was overhead, underfoot, and on the eastern and western horizons. I used it religiously for one solid year. Did it knock my Nikes off? No. Did it improve my catch rate? I have to admit it did a little.

My interest piqued, I Googled for more information on the moon's influence. I found a lot of other tables, all following the same, basic format (yet not always agreeing on the best times). And I was disappointed that none backed up their predictions with any degree of supporting evidence or credibility. Then I came across a site called "Rick Taylor's PrimeTimes."

Now there was a familiar name. Rick is a nationally-known outdoor journalist, who has been researching and writing about fishing and hunting for over 30 years. He even has his own research facility where he can observe bass behavior in their natural setting from his office window. I had read many of his feature stories in various magazines, plus he does the famous Astro Tables. (Read Rick's credentials.)

This web site has a lot of good information, including samples, comparisons, testimonials, and straight talk about the moon's role in fish and game activity periods. Plus Taylor offers far more than a simple digital print-out of the moon's daily positions. His products include a colorful, graphic wall calendar (which comes with a free pocket calendar), a book openly explaining just about everything you would want to know on the subject, and a really slick piece of PC software that does it all for you.

What especially caught my attention was Taylor's warning that if I was using a basic moon table, I was missing at least 50 percent of the best times to be out there. 50 percent!

I ordered everything. I read his book cover-to-cover and followed the calendar's and software's predictions to the letter. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you my catch rate that next year more than doubled!

Solar Power

What makes the PrimeTimes system so unique is that it is a true Solar-Lunar table, consulting both the sun and moon in determining when to go. The typical moon table (often referred to as a "solunar table,") may suggest it incorporates the sun in its daily periods, but usually does so in name only.

Taylor believes the key solar periods each day are generally more important than the lunar periods. Dawn, for example, marks the beginning the day's activity for the vast majority of fish and game. There is no greater and predictable stimulus than the blackness of night suddenly turning into the brightness of day.

Then at Dusk the opposite day-to-night transition can spur activity in anticipation of the failing visibility.

The other key solar period is High Noon, which many anglers overlook completely. Besides being mid-way between dawn and dusk (therefore lunch time), it's when the sun's light and heat energy penetrate the deepest into water. This can spark plankton blooms at the medium to lower depths, which induces baitfish to move and feed, and in turn can stimulate game fish. Taylor says High Noon also sees the sun's strongest electromagnetic energy, which theoretically, is the same force coming down from the moon. This makes the sun's underfoot position at "Mid-night" also a viable period under certain conditions.

The Solar/Lunar Tandem

Still, even these potent solar cycles have their ups and downs. For no apparent reason the fish suddenly stop biting or the game stops moving at the usual times, and we are at a loss to figure out why. Enter the moon.

To better explain this, here is an excerpt from an article on Taylor's site:

"It's almost like a tug-of-war between these two celestial objects. On the one side we have the sun, urging fish and game to follow its dawn-to-dusk-to-dawn cycle and the changes in temperatures, winds, and light levels it causes. On the other side is the maverick moon, coming overhead 50 minutes later each day, sending down enough mysterious energy to coax many species off their solar routines and onto a more erratic one. It's hard to say if the bass are confused. A lot of people are.

"But underneath this apparent discord lies predictable patterns to the moon and sun's influence. In fact, there are times when the two sing together in almost perfect harmony to produce potentially strong fish-feeding periods. Not everyone knows about these, and even fewer look for them. You would need an accurate moon table, because the lunar element in the equation is never constant from one day to the next. And you would need an accurate solar table."

As far as I can tell, only Taylor's PrimeTimes fills that bill. Click here to see how a lunar period overlapping a solar period produces those double-whammy periods

Are There Similar Systems Out There?

If Taylor's system is so good, why haven't other tables followed suit? While perhaps a couple have tried, they fall short of PrimeTimes. I asked Rick Taylor why this is. "Anybody can produce a basic moon table in just a few hours," he replied. "But doing a true solar-lunar forecaster is very complicated and time consuming. I spend over three months (about 700 man hours) making just the Wall Calendar each year. I analyze each solar and lunar period down to the minute, then literally draw each peak and valley by hand...well, with a mouse and a good graphic design program."

Before he can do any of these graphics, however, Rick uses a couple computer programs with secret formulas he devised to tweak the raw data he gets from the U.S. Naval Observatory, then adjusts the data even farther inside a database. This takes about a month. Each year's software takes two months to update.

That leads us to the next obvious question: Why don't we see the name "PrimeTimes" attached to any of those techno gadgets that are everywhere these days?

"I get that question a lot," says Taylor. "The truth is, I've been approached by companies that make watches, clocks, weather forecasters, depth-finders, cell phones, GPS units, hand-helds, you name it. But when they hear how involved it is to compile my data each year, and how much memory it would eat up, and that I don't want "PrimeTimes" associated with anything less than the real thing, they end up going with that basic lunar data you can find anywhere. But I really don't mind. I get a lot of orders from people who say they got introduced to 'the moon' through these devices, and now want something better."

The Various PrimeTimes Formats

Rick produces no less than five different, when-to-go formats from his data. The best known is the Astro Tables, which runs monthly in numerous publications across the country. While it may not tell the whole when-to-go story like the PrimeTimes Wall Calendar and software do, it is good enough to significantly improve your catch-rate.

He admits his simplest format, "Lunar Times," is just a little better than those basic moon tables. It is offered free on his web site and to any other site that wishes to carry it (and to date there are hundreds that do). Like all his other lesser forecasters, Rick wants to at least introduce people to the moon's influence on fish and game. Then after having some success, they may also realize a few million other folks are using the same table, and will consider moving up to either the PrimeTimes Wall Calendar or the Ultimate PrimeTimes software.

In his 24 years of making fish-and-game forecasters, Rick Taylor claims he has never spent one dime on advertising. PrimeTimes' success has spread mostly by word-of-mouth. To date, his web site gets over one million hits per year.

A Final Tip

I asked Rick what he would most want outdoors people to know about his forecasts. "Keep the solar-lunar influence in perspective," he replied. "It is a factor, but hardly the only factor. I cringe when a customer tells me he won't go unless PrimeTimes says it is a good time. Unless he's using my software, I suspect he's missing some good bites. You always have to consider the weather, water conditions, seasonal patterns...just to name a few."

Does PrimeTimes guarantee results? "I not only guarantee my forecasts," he quips, "I offer a number you can call if you're not satisfied: 555-555-5555. But seriously, what I do tell people is to give my wall calendar an honest try for one full year (it's even better to use my software, because it adjusts for your current weather and water conditions, plus your specific quarry). During this year, trust it implicitly. If the forecast is good and you're not getting anything, try blaming something else, like not being in the right place. Maybe your quarry recently had a good meal and is now sleeping it off. Maybe someone else got there first. There are any number of variables you can't possibly know.

"But one thing you can know is that my forecasters are showing the relative amounts of the various solar and lunar energies influencing the earth at any given moment. And this energy is not diminished one iota by cloud cover, water clarity, hurricanes...anything. Unlike so many other factors, this one is very predictable."

Rick's bottom line is this: If you use PrimeTimes faithfully and act accordingly, you will enjoy better success.

I, for one, agree.

END

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