The moon mysterious, a fisherman’s friend

I am already looking forward to June 3 when the next full moon makes its appearance. Out where we live in the country, there is something mesmerizing to drive east down our road at dusk and see the full moon pulling itself up from the wood line. If it’s a high pressure, low humidity day, the moon is so bright its easy to see features on the moon’s surface.

The moon has made its way into popular movies. For example, the movie Picnic starring the stunning actress, Kim Novak features the song Moonglow. Then there is Moonstruck starring Nicolas Cage and Cher where the eccentric old grandfather gazes to the night skies with the phrase ‘la bella luna’. In English, that’s ‘beautiful moon’.

Then there are popular songs that mention the moon. It’s Only a Paper Moon…Buttermilk Sky…Moon Over Memphis are some that come to mind but probably the most popular one in more recent times was Bad Moon Rising by Creedance Clearwater Revival. Interestingly, this song contains a phrase that is often misunderstood and folks scratch their heads trying to figure out how it fits into the song. The mistaken phrase in the song is “there’s a bathroom on the right” when CCR was actually singing “there’s a bad moon on the rise”.

As a fisherman, I love to be out on the lake at night during a full moon, casting along the shoreline for bass. When the moon is bright, you don’t need any other light other than what the moon provides to see where to cast.

The role the moon plays in the activity of fish was recognized a long time ago when in 1926, John Alden Knight came up with something serious anglers utilize today, the Solunar Table. 

The table identifies four lunar periods each day, two major periods and two minor periods. Major periods last about two hours and begin when the moon is directly overhead as well as when it’s directly below. Minor periods last about an hour while the moon rises and sets. Knight’s idea is that fish become more active at these four times daily. 

Following the Solunar Table, there are four lunar phases – new moon, first quarter, full moon and last quarter. Many anglers swear that 90% of catches come on a full or new moon. Additionally, some say you should only fish a full moon at night for best results and a new moon during the day.

All this technical stuff aside, a big bright full moon has always been special to me. Back in the day when I was in high school, there was nothing more romantic than to be courting my girlfriend under a full moon. It wouldn’t have been nearly as romantic if the night had been totally dark.

We didn’t know anything about a Solunar Table back when my brother, two cousins and I spent the night on the creek bank setting out hooks for catfish. It was more fun and our catches were better when we fished and camped under the light of a full moon.  

When I was a kid, I was exposed to a totally different kind of “moon” one summer Sunday morning in church. I was sitting with my first cousin, Doug and in the pew directly in front of us sat one of the old patriarchs of Goldonna Baptist Church, an elderly gentleman everyone knew as “Mister Bud”. 

As the song leader announced the song and asked everybody to stand, Mister Bud stood, bent forward to reach for a hymnal and when he did, the threadbare seersucker pants he wore silently ripped from waist to crotch exposing a bare bottom; he didn’t believe in wearing underwear in summer. 

Even before CCR came up with the song, Doug and I were witnesses to a “bad moon on the rise”. We giggled so hard we probably needed to go find a “bathroom on the right.”

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