Trout Fishing and the Full Moon

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Photo by Louis Cahill

Photo by Louis Cahill

The days can be slow, but the nights can be epic.

I got an email from a reader the other day asking me to solve a fly fishing dilemma. He and a friend had fished hard the day before and caught very few trout. It was a perfect day, perfect water temperature and “stickbait” (caddis larvae) were everywhere, but no feeding trout. “Could it be the full moon?” he wondered.

That’s exactly right. Given the choice, trout will always feed at night. They are more comfortable in the cover of darkness and their eyes, having no iris to regulate how much light enters the eye, are better suited for low light. When the moon is full, trout will focus on nocturnal feeding and sleep during the day. (More on how fish sleep HERE.)

The caddis larvae are an important part of the equation. In the spring and summer when caddis are active you will find those larvae moving around, getting ready for the evening hatch. Caddis hatches can be heaven at night and that’s what the fish are waiting for. Caddis flies emerging under a full moon are easy pickings for trout. Well worth staying up late, for fish and fisherman alike.

Try this next spring full moon

A much younger Kent Klewein

A much younger Kent Klewein

Sleep in. No need to get on the water early. Trout will start getting active later in the afternoon as they recover from the banquet the night before. Get on the water in the afternoon and plan to stay late. Once the sun goes down, tie on a caddis pattern with heavy tippet, at least 3X. Cast quartered downstream and swing the fly. Pretty soon you’ll be marking the full moon on your calendar.

If caddis flies are not active, try a dark streamer or mouse pattern. That big silhouette crossing over their heads is hard to resist. Use a headlamp with a red light to tie on flies and preserve your night vision. Fish water you know and be careful wading. Boating at night can be risky. If you don’t know the water very, very well and have 100% confidence, it’s best to wade.

The 9 pm to midnight shift can be a lot of fun on the full moon. Give it a try sometime and let us know how you do.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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10 thoughts on “Trout Fishing and the Full Moon

    • They are close to the surface. I’ve seen them open their mouths and like a shark with dorsal fin breaking the surface, literally scoop up the flies while on the move

  1. One of the best days I ever had was a night in August. Of course I am talking large mouth bass but both numbers and size were over the top.

  2. Louis, the link is missing for how fish sleep.

    I can’t decide what time of year is my favorite to fish. But I have it narrowed down to two.
    I love fishing streamers during cold, wet, spring days (snow flurries are the best), but fishing caddis late at night during the summer is epic. I’ve never caught so many nice fish on dry flies. I would definitely recommend it.

  3. This is very much the case with stripers as well. The fish just seem to disappear during any daylight hours when the moon is full; they eat all night long.

  4. The link worked fine for me. Good read, unfortunately my waterway is closed an hour after sunset and doesn’t open until an hour before sunset. I will have to try this somewhere a little less local.

  5. Agreed the only thing I would add Louis is to check the regulations. only one river in my area allows night fishing.

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