Moon Phases and Bass Fishing Part 1
Published on Bassmaster.com July 2, 2009
If you haven't read Part 1, read it first.
Because of varying factors, we'll never be able to exactly compare apples to apples when it comes to determining the solunar influence based on actual fish recorded in the Insider BASSlog. I knew that from the beginning. What I didn't know was how difficult it would be just to equal out the number of days per phase.
As I mentioned in my last post, I distributed the days out as evenly as possible based on the percentage of illumination of each day. I put every day in one of 5 phases. With about 25 years of solunar data, there was about 150 days between the phase with the most days and the phase with the least amount of days. That's a pretty significant amount (almost 10%).
I didn't think it would make that much of a difference, but in many of my queries (with 5+ years of data), more fish were recorded for the phases with the most days. Out of the 5 phases, one phase would have as much as 15 more days than another. That wasn't good enough for me. I had to do more to make them more even.
I tried several programmatic ways to accomplish it, but it just couldn't rest with the data that I currently have. So, I had to do some manual work to even them out. I want to explain the issues I am dealing with and the resolutions that I am using. What I ended up having to do is split up some of the illumination percentages into 2 different phases. For instance, originally I put 0% to 9% illumination in the new moon and the quarter moon started at 10%. To make it work out evenly, I had to put some of the 10% illumination days into the new moon category and some into the quarter moon. Unfortunately, I could only get whole number amounts for the percentage of illumination. So, I couldn't just take 9.3% and put it in the new moon and put 9.8% in the quarter moon. So, there are several days that may have the same percent illumination as another day, yet they could be in a different phase.
That may not be perfect, but it's much better than having one phase with 15 more days than another. If I come across a more exact illumination (with decimals), I'm sure there are a few days that should be changed. But I doubt it will really make a difference in the bottom line. As of the time of this writing, there are 2,003 days of data recorded for the Insider BASSlog. After redistributing the data, each of the 5 phases now has either 200 or 201 days. So, it should be much closer to comparing apples to apples than the percentages I used before.
Another issue I've encountered is the seasons. My original plan was to figure December through February as winter, March through May as spring, June through August as summer, and September through November as fall. Those ranges are more in line with my fishing seasons than the actual seasons themselves. But when I started doing calculations, the number of days per season was too far off. So then I had more work to do. I had to put each day into its actual season. But after I did that, the numbers were way off. I just learned the hard way that each season doesn't have the same amount of days.
Here's the breakdown I came up with after putting each day for the past 2003 days in its correct season.
Summer: 473 days
Fall: 450 days
Winter: 525 days
Spring: 555 days
I had no idea the seasons were so skewed. I haven't decided if it would be advantageous to divide those into even categories by changing the beginning and/or the end of each season. Doing so might be misleading, especially since there are such extremes across the country and everyone is familiar with the actual seasons as specified on the calendar.
But I do think it's important to have the same amount of days per phase during each season, which brings up another bag of worms (we don't use cans for worms). The issue is that we only have 2,003 days of data recorded. Every year, the moons fall on different days of the month. Because of this, the number of days for each phase of each season differs by as much as 12 days out of the 2003 days. Over time, those days will even out. But currently they are uneven.
For example, the new moon category (the way I divided it) only has 98 days in the winter, while the 3/4 moon has 110 days in the winter. So, I still have my work cut out for me to consider not only the amount of fish, but also the discrepancies between phases and seasons.
I realize I haven't provided any of the information that we all want to know, which is how the moon affects our fishing. But that will come in time. I plan to make this a series lasting the whole summer and there is enough information for several articles. For now, I need more time to overcome the unexpected hurdles so I can provide accurate information. Continue to check back and I will share my findings as I go.