Many hunters and fishermen have their own theories of how the moon phase affects the wild creatures they seek. Tim Bye practices patience after the full moon and is rewarded.
Full Moon Crappie Fishing
by Keith Lusher
In the world of sac-a-lait fishing or crappie for those of you not from Louisiana – fishing theories are a dime a dozen. But there’s one theory that makes a lot of sense to me. It’s the theory that claims fish don’t bite the morning after a full moon.
The reason is that the full moon lights up the water so that predator fish can see their prey overnight. As a result, the fish are full by morning and aren’t interested in feeding like they normally would during the morning hours. The theory makes so much sense that I’ve adopted it and have actually scheduled fishing trips to avoid fishing after a full moon.
However, because of schedule conflicts, I was forced to fish with Tim Bye on a day following a full moon.
Bye fishes all over Louisiana. For our trip we had chosen Bayou Lacombe in Southeast Louisiana. Because of the moon, I wasn’t all that enthusiastic about it.
For those not familiar with Bayou Lacombe, all you have to do is close your eyes and picture any movie scene that is set in the swamps of Louisiana. Quiet, still, cypress trees lining the shoreline, and Spanish moss hanging down from all the tree branches. Bayou Lacombe is truly a sight to see even if you’re not fishing. The bayou is relatively short, beginning 5 miles north of Lake Pontchartrain and meandering south until it empties into the lake.
We headed south to an area where the bayou transitioned from woods to marsh. As we approached our first spot, Bye sunk his live-imaging sonar (LIS) transducer to properly gauge the situation beneath the water. He turned the handle from the right, then to the left. Then he homed in on some structure that was on the bottom about 10 feet down. It was an old root ball from a fallen tree that Hurricane Katrina toppled when it clobbered the area in 2005.
“Oh yeah. They’re down there,” he mumbled enthusiastically.
Bye uses a 9-foot Lew’s Wally Marshall Classic and ties on a blue and chartreuse tube Scale Head tub jig on a 1/32 oz. jig head. He clamps on a small split-shot about a foot above the tube jig.
“The split-shot helps me locate my jig (on the LIS) when I lower it down,” he said. “It’s easier to see two dots on the screen rather than one.”
Bye’s method of catching sac-a-lait is to get down to the fish and then start raising the jig in order to get a fish to separate from the pack. I positioned myself by the screen in the back of the boat to get a fix on where the fish were. I spotted his jig and split-shot just as it reached the group of sac-a-lait. Right on cue, a fish looked up and started to approach his jig. Bye braced as he prepared to set the hook but the fish turned away and sank back down to the group.
He tried again and the same thing happened. Another fish turned up and lazily swam towards it only to turn away and snub the lure. It was about this time that the full moon theory entered my psyche.
We moved to other spots and the same thing happened; total rejection from the sac-a-lait.
I jokingly repeated the words, “Full Mooon…Full Mooon.” Bye nodded his head in agreement. We moved to other spots and the same thing happened. There was no appetite with these fish. The full moon theory was losing its theory title and was becoming fact.
Bye then recommended we change our game plan.
“We moved to other spots and the same thing happened; total rejection from the sac-a-lait. I jokingly repeated the words, ‘Full Mooon…Full Mooon.’ Bye shook his head in agreement.”
“We know the fish are there so it’s just a matter of waiting them out until they get hungry again. Do you need to be back early?” Bye asked.
“NOPE,” I replied.
The plan was to do a little exploring on the bayou with his electronics and to let the fish work up an appetite.
We stuck to the plan until around noon and then tried the root ball where we originally started earlier that morning. Bye lowered down his jig and we held our breath as a sac-a-lait swam up to it. It was the moment of truth. Was the fish going to commit or turn back? Bye raised the jig another foot and the fish jumped on it! He slung the first fish of the day into the boat. It was a 12-inch sac-a-lait and the entire mood changed. I grabbed my rod and joined in on the action.
As we analyzed what was taking place Bye made some interesting observations.
“It’s not a hard-and-fast rule that these fish won’t bite after a full moon but it’s often the case that they don’t,” he said. “When that happens, you can use the full moon to your advantage by practicing a little patience and waiting them out; they have to eat eventually.”
We sat at that one spot and put 35 fish in the boat in a matter of an hour and a half.
After fishing a few other spots, we put close to 50 fish in the ice chest and decided to call it a day by 3:00 p.m. As I sat down and put my PFD on, I reflected on the reversal of fortune that we just experienced. Needless to say, we were both very relieved over what had just transpired and as we motored back to the boat launch, Bye turned to me said “Full Moon, Full Moon!
Keith Lusher is an award-winning outdoor journalist from Covington, Louisiana. He owns and operates NorthshoreFishingReport.com and other outlets. He serves on the board of the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association. Lusher contributes to numerous publications both online and in print and prides himself on promoting South Louisiana’s unique fishery.