DO PRIMETIMES AND ASTRO TABLES WORK IN MY AREA?
Yes. Because of the installation of time zones over a century ago, the moon and sun reach the same point in the sky at the same time for all locations of earth.
For example, say you are in New York, it's 9:00 p.m., and the moon is directly over your head, just as PrimeTimes says it should be. You immediately call your brother in Los Angeles, who you know uses PrimeTimes, too. You ask him what time it says the moon will be overhead. He checks it and says, "9:00 p.m." You ask him to look up in the sky and report where the moon is. He says it's about half way up from the eastern horizon…not overhead. You're a little confused until he reminds you that in Los Angeles it's only 6:00 p.m. In another 3 hours, the moon WILL be over his head and the time WILL be 9:00 p.m.
DO I EVER NEED TO ADJUST THE LUNAR OR SOLAR TIMES?
We set our times to the CENTER of any given time zone (ie: 78 degrees for the Eastern Time Zone, 93 degrees for the Central, 108 degrees for Mountain, and 123 degrees for Pacific). If you fish or hunt within a few degrees of any of these, there is no need to adjust anything. If, however, you are on the far edge of your time zone, the times could be as much as 30 minutes off. While this is still within acceptable limits (you should be out there at least one hour before any activity time, anyway), some folks like to be precise…bless their hearts. In this case, use this simple formula:
Find the number of miles you are from the center, and divide it by 12. The result is the number of minutes you need to adjust. If you are to the WEST of center, ADD these minutes to all the solar/lunar times. If you are to the EAST of center, SUBTRACT.
(For example, anglers in Miami would add approximately 12 minutes to all times.)
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY "Moon Overhead" AND "Moon Underfoot?"
As the name implies, the "Moon Overhead" period is that time each day when the moon reaches its highest point in your sky. Then-approximately 12.5 hours later, it has moved to being right under your feet on the other side of the earth. That's the "Moon Underfoot" period.
ARE THESE THE BEST TIMES TO GO?
ARE YOU SAYING FISH AND GAME MAY BE ACTIVE DURING OTHER TIMES OF DAY?
The problem with the so-called "moon tables" today is that you can be mislead into thinking their prescribed lunar periods, often called "Major" and "Minors" or "Primary" and "Secondary," are the only times to find activity. This simply isn't true. There's another not-so-subtle object floating around out there that must always be considered, as well. It's called the sun, and it's solar periods of "Dawn, High-Noon, and Dusk" have just as much if not more potential to influence the daily activities of fish and game.
EXPLAIN THE THREE SOLAR PERIODS AND WHY THEY ARE IMPORTANT TO FISH AND GAME ACTIVITY.
With the exception of a few nocturnal creatures and most teenageers, Dawn sets the world in motion. After so many hours of monotonous darkness, they can finally see their surroundings. It's time to stretch, flex, and find something to eat. On a year-round basis, no other daily period has as much potential for seeing the beginning of some kind of activity. And no other is as predictable.
Dusk, of course, is sort of Dawn in reverse. But since here visibility is slowly being lost, Dusk can be as much of a turn-off as anything. What it does have going for it is it often gets the creatures up and moving back to their liars for the night. Fish may feed in aniticipation of the coming darkness, especially on the insects that become more active as the sun and breezes fade.
High Noon is the most ignored and least understood period of them all. Yet, on a yearly basis it's often the best one overall to fish. Here are the major factors High Noon has going for it: 1) With the sun penetrating its strongest into the water of the day, plankton blooms are the greatest. This leads to feeding minnows, which leads to active predators. The catch here is that you must often fish deeper, away from the shorelines so dear to the average angler's heart. 2) If the creatures fed at Dawn, now it's lunchtime…halfway between Dawn and Dusk. 3) It's the sun's highest electromagnetic period of the 24-hours, just like the Moon Overhead period is for the moon. And 4) in the cooler months, it marks the front end of the day's warmest water, which can stimulate fish activity.
This solar trilogy of Dawn, High Noon, and Dusk, has and always will lay the foundation for the daily activity cycles of all earth's creatures.
IF THESE SOLAR PERIODS ARE SO DOMINANT, WHERE DOES THE MOON COME IN?
If the moon isn't proof God has a sense of humor, maybe it's Nature's way of guaranteeing the preservation of the species. If all life followed a solar pattern all the time, it would be as easy for coyotes to wipe out all the rabbits as it would be for man to wipe out all the coyotes. But, for one reason or another the bass, deer and field mice suddenly stop following a solar pattern and seem to virtually disappear. The availability of food, certain environmental conditions, seasonal mating patterns, and the presence of man himself can and often will be factors. But so apparently is the moon, with its mystical, misunderstood powers.
Perhaps a few millennia ago some nonconformist named Grog discovered that land and water creatures often switch over to a lunar cycle and hence kept bringing home piles of meat when no one else was. (Maybe they made him the official outdoor writer of his tribe.) The moon's influence has been documented in the earliest writings of naturalists to as far back as cave drawings. Commercial fishermen and hunters follow the moon, as do guides, horticulturists, and many others who make a living from harvesting earth's bounty.
WHAT'S THE POWER BEHIND THIS LUNAR INFLUENCE?
Theories range from the moon's gravitational pull tugging on the water in an animal's body to its electromagnetism realigning the microscopic iron particles in the blood. We do know that back when life was first forming in the sea, the moon was five times closer to the earth than now and the tides were over a mile high! This twice-a-day phenomenon had to have left a deep impression on all life, which perhaps has been passed down genetically to its progeny.
Actually, our knowing exactly how the moon influences life is not as important as accepting the fact that, at certain times, it does. From there we can start a retro-study of the big picture and look for patterns to develop that can and will help us better predict the activity times of our favorite species
WHY DON'T MY LOCAL TIDE CHARTS AGREE WITH PRIMETIMES (ASTRO TABLES)?
They should be pretty close, because both are based on the moon's position each day.
When the moon is overhead or underfoot, there is a high tide in that area and there's
also a PrimeTimes lunar period. If your tide table seems to disagree with PrimeTimes,
it's because 1) the time of an actual high tide in any given location is also determined
by other factors, such as the terrain both on and offshore, and known lag effects (when
the tides come in later than usual for various reasons); 2) PrimeTimes is not meant to
be a tide table. It's an activity forecaster. Among other things, it shows you the two
times each day when the moon is in position to present it's strongest electromagnetic
energy, which are known to affect fish and game. These two periods are actually
"windows" with a beginning time and ending time...
centered on when the moon is directly over your head and (some 12.5 hours
later) directly under your feet on the other side of the earth. The length of these
periods changes day to day, due to certain cycles of the moon. In this respect,
PrimeTimes is astrophysically accurate. The best advice is to trust and use both
PrimeTimes and your area's tide chart.
More to come. Check back soon.