Each morning for the past week or so I have walked out the door where I’m staying here in Fort Steele to look up at an eerie, fiery red ball hanging in the sky. It is the sun, covered by a hazy shroud of smoke from all the fires burning just south of here.
I cannot help but think about all the fires that I covered when I was still at the Observer. Those images will stay with me forever.
In the evenings, however, I have also been able to enjoy just sitting out in the backyard, thankful for the cool breezes that have been blowing through. The night air is a welcome respite from the hot days and smoke-filled skies. Sunsets too have been strangely interesting. Some nights the whole sky seems to be on fire, especially when there is a bit of cloud in the sky. Even the moon has taken on an eerie, other world, reddish-orange appearance. It is strangely interesting looking up at the moon, bathed in its crimson shroud of red. I don’t know how many times I used to sit in my front yard in Salmon Arm on a clear summer’s evening looking up at the moon, contemplating the true meaning of life or some such nonsense.
Some years back, however, I did learn to take the moon into consideration when I was planning my fishing trips. I now always make a point of consulting something called the Solunar Tables when making my plans.
The word ‘solunar’ comes from sol (sun) and lunar (moon). The basis for the Solunar Tables is derived from the concept that the sun and moon affect the tides, and that the rise and fall of the tides are caused by the force or pull exerted by the moon. The theory of the Solunar Tables was developed by John Alden Knight, author of The Modern Angler: Including the Solunar Theory, 1936. Initially, Knight compared 33 factors that seemed to influence the behavior of fish and caused them to become more active. Of those, he further examined three: sunrise and sunset, phases of the moon and tides. From those he developed the Solunar Tables. To substantiate his theory, Knight systematically compared the timing of 200 record catches and found that more than 90 per cent were made during a new moon (even when one was not visible). This is the time when the influence of solunar periods is strongest. Because of the interaction of many solar and lunar cycles, no two days, months or years are ever the same. June has a greater combined solunar influence than any other month. During a full moon, the sun and moon are nearly opposite each other and throughout the course of the day either one is nearly always on the horizon. Whereas, during a new moon, both celestial bodies are in near-perfect alignment travelling through the sky together with their forces and influences combined. If one is willing to concede the sun and moon affect the tides in the oceans and seas, then it should not be too much of a leap of faith to believe they exert a similar influence on inland bodies of water.
Scientists concur that fish in both tidal and non-tidal waters are affected by the sun and moon at specific times of the day.
The Solunar Tables were developed from this relationship. Each day is divided into four periods: two in the morning and two in the afternoon. There are two types of periods, one known as the major period and the other referred to as the minor period. The major period is usually of approximately two-hours duration and the minor lasting one to one-and-a-half hours. Each day has two major and two minor periods. The trick is to know when these periods will occur on any given day, and then, plan your fishing trips accordingly.