Moontime Carp – Part 1

Carp angling and moon phases

After more than a decade of testing the theory and keeping detailed records, I’m convinced you can improve your catch success by being aware of how the moon affects carp behaviour and their feeding.

Have you ever wondered why you can sit by your rods for hours on end with your indicators seemingly “glued” to your rods, and then completely out of the blue, both of your rods scream off at the same time with a carp on the end?   What triggers the fish to feed?  What causes that uncanny feeling when you feel you are going to get a bite? What follows are my thoughts on what could be part of the explanation.

A lot of anglers will agree, or believe, that the moon and its gravitational pull play some part in fishing.  You will often hear anglers talk about their favourite moonphase to fish, whether that is a bright full moon or the dark nights of a new moon.  A large part of my fascination with carp fishing is an understanding of why I am successful on some sessions when everything seems to go right, and perhaps more importantly, why there are times when the alarm going off is a somewhat distant memory and I cannot buy a bite.

An article I read some 12 years ago sparked off my interest about the moon and its possible effect on my successes and failures so I did a great deal of research and started keeping detailed records of both the times of my captures and in relation to moonphase and the moontimes within those moonphases.  12 years later and I’ve become a massive believer and developed an approach to my carp fishing which includes this relationship with the moon, which I have no doubt has added to my catches of both numbers and size of the fish I catch.

Moon phases and carp fishing

Cracking 43lb 4oz Mirror caught at Bletiere during a H.P moontime

The Moonphases

To set the scene, let me start by giving a brief explanation of the moonphases.

As you are probably aware, there are four moonphases, New Moon, First quarter, Full Moon and Last quarter.  In very simple terms, these phases are caused by changing angles (relative positions) of the Earth, the Moon and the Sun, as the Moon orbits the Earth.

  • New Moon occurs when the moon is positioned between the Earth and the Sun
  • At a Full Moon, the Earth, Moon, and Sun are in alignment, just as the New Moon, but the moon is on the opposite side of the earth, so the sunlit part of the moon is facing us
  • The First quarter and Last quarter moons happen when the moon is at a 90 degree angle with respect to the Earth and Sun

The gravitational pull of the moon, and therefore potentially the biggest effect on our fishing, is on or around 2 days each side of each moonphase.  For example, the most recent New Moon was on the 3rd November, therefore the best days for fishing would have been the two days before the New Moon (the 1st and 2nd, abbreviated to NM-1 and NM-2) the New Moon itself (3rd November, NM-0) and the two days afterwards (the 4th and the 5th , NM+1 and NM+2).  The same applies for each of the moonphases.  The periods in-between are when the moon has less affect and therefore potentially the least productive.  That does not mean you will not catch in these times, it’s just that if you want to stack the odds in your favour then ideally you would try to fish during the better periods.

moon phases and carp fishing

Moon phases

However, that is only one part of the puzzle…


The moon rises and sets just as the sun does, except it does not have a 24 hour cycle like the sun.  A moon cycle takes approximately 24 hours and 50 minutes which is key to identifying our best possible times for fishing.

Each moon cycle has a moon RISE, HIGH ORBIT POINT (H.P), SET and LOW ORBIT POINT (L.O).  Bearing in mind what I wrote above, these times move by roughly 50 minutes each day.  Therefore a RISE, H.P, SET or L.O can be at any time of the day or night depending on the time of the month.

Minor feeding periods occur at RISE and SET for approximately 3 hours, 1 ½ hours before and 1 ½ hours after the RISE and SET times.

Major feeding periods occur at H.P and L.O for approximately 4 hours, 2 hours before and 2 hours after the transit time.  At these points, the moon is nearest to the earth and its energies most intense.

You can find out moon RISE, SET and H.P times by finding and downloading the appropriate software off the internet then adjusting to your own time zone.  To calculate the L.O transit time, add 12 hours and 20 minutes to the previous H.P time (this is approximate).

To optimise my chances, I aim to be fishing at least 90 minutes before a RISE or SET, and 2 hours before the H.P and L.O transit times. Big carp are most apt to be active at the start and end of feeding periods, or very close to the RISE, SET, or transit times.

One thing to watch for at the start and end of major and minor periods are changes in wind.  Wind will often pick up at RISE and SET or drop off completely at transit times. This wind often results in us feeling “positive” and is what could lie behind that “uncanny” feeling we sometimes get moments before we catch.  Other things to watch out for coinciding at key points are when you find yourself yawning, hearing dogs barking and other animal noises (fish are not the only creatures to be affected by the moon).  Even watching the birdlife on your local water at these times can give you a clue.


I am not claiming this is the “be all and end all” to improve your catch rates, it just adds another dimension to my carp fishing enjoyment.  To me, carp fishing is about trying to get everything as right as possible in order to get the best out of each session and having this information certainly doesn’t do any harm. Next month, I will share with you how I approach my short and long term fishing sessions whilst including this knowledge.

Duncan De Gruchy

Carp Fishing Tactics – 34 Videos Packed with Info



18 thoughts on “Moontime Carp – Part 1

  1. Having followed the moon phases for years and certainly booking my holidays around the moon for the past 30 or so years I have found that fish and all other animals including ourselves are strongly affected by the moon.
    I have studied carp more than any other fish but the confusion sets in when you discover that different strains are affected in different ways and indeed different aged fish are again affected differently.
    I thought I was getting somewhere with it all at one time but now find myself having to decide if I want to catch multiples of fish or large fish with less interference from smaller fish.

  2. Paul Cooper says:

    There is nothing complicated about the best fishing times on most waters during the warmer months of the year, that is April to November. Knowing what time the sun and the moon rises and sets each day is the key to main feeding periods. That is 4 events each day. During each event you have around a 2 hour feeding period , that is one hour before and 1 hour after each event, however the moon has a stronger influence due to gravitational pull and its effects on insect life. I am sure that most anglers will agree that more fish are captured during these events.
    Another factor to add to a feeding frenzy are storms and low pressure, as they are building or as they are passing.
    Feeding periods during the Winter can vary however, I generally find that the best times are when we get a mild damp day, and this is generally during the event of sunset.

    Paul Cooper

  3. Jim Kelly says:

    I am not sure that the moon phase has any effect on catch rates. What I think is that when you can see the full moon e.g. high pressure then it can be difficult to catch carp especially in summer, but it can be difficult to catch carp whatever the phase of the moon in high pressure. When it is low pressure and the moon is hidden it appears to have little effect on catch rates. I feel that we don’t catch, see the full moon and blame it rather than blame the pressure. In winter I have sometimes had my best catches during a full moon. I have often wondered if the extra gravitational pull gets the fish to move a little in winter. What do others think? Or has it been just a coincidence.

  4. To totally simplify things after watching and taking note for many years these are my findings.

    From the start of a new moon to a full moon I have always received the most action from carp. From a full moon waning to no moon I have always struggled to make the big hits but will obviously still catch because the fish feed most days anyway.

    A big full moon period for some reason really turns the big commons on and the older mirrors but is rarely productive for multiple captures as I believe smaller younger carp feed far less during this period.

    If I were to target a big common in a water I would definitely be there as much as possible during a full moon period.

    If I weren’t bothered about catching lots but would like to single the better fish out I would target the waning moon period.

    If I simply wanted sport from anything then the two weeks leading to a full moon is the time to be there.

    Atmospheric pressure and temperature all come into the equation but as we are only talking the moon here, in ideal conditions this is my finding.

  5. Jim Kelly says:

    Being a mathematician I cannot help but comment on Paul’s comment. The force between objects due to gravity is f=G x mass of first object x mass of second object divided by distance squared, where G is the gravitational constant. The gravity between the earth and the sun is approximately 180 times greater than the gravity between the earth and the moon. Hence the gravity of earth to moon is insignificant compared to earth to sun. The point of a full moon is that the forces are all pulling in the same direction, whereas a half moon is when they are pulling at right angles to each other. The effec of sun spots etc. may have more effect on fishing than the phase of the moon. How about that for a red herring?

  6. Are you saying it is the sun that affects the tides rather than the moon?

  7. Paul Cooper says:

    Well I have never heard of carp being caught as a result of a sunspot.
    The sun is 149,600,000 km from the earth and the moon is only 384,400 km.
    I think that on this occasion Jim you are wrong.
    The sun does effect the gravitational pull on the earth but to a lesser extent than the moon, which is the main determinant of our tides.
    You can work out if we are on a neap tide or a spring tide – that’s a high tide or a low tide – depending on whether these two celestial bodies line up with each other. When the sun is in alignment with the moon we have a new moon (which means you can’t see it because it is not illuminated and is dark) and the two bodies work together gravitational, producing a spring tide. Two weeks later, however, the moon is at 90 degrees to the sun, so they’re not in alignment, so you have a neap tide. Two weeks after that you have a full moon and the two are working together again, and you have a spring tide.

  8. I mentioned the tides because of the obvious connection with fish living within water. The power that moves water has to have a massive effect on the creatures living within that environment even if the moon isn’t effecting the fish itself although I am 100% positive that it does anyway.

    If you get the chance to speak to Elie Godsi (who has been on lots of Angling Lines venues) he works with rather dangerous (to say the least) people, you will soon find out that the moon has a massive bearing on human activity. It is no little coincidence that the most shocking of murders are carried out at the same moon phase.

    Ironically I was talking to a taxi driver not so long ago who also happened to mention how he dreads working during a particular moon phase because of the trouble he gets. We aren’t aware there is anything different and we don’t appear to feel different but the moon effects all of us.

  9. Jim Kelly says:

    I agree with Paul’s distances 149600000/384400 is 389.2 . The mass of the sun is 1989000000000000000000000000000 kg(27 zeros) and the mass of the moon is 73470000000000000000000kg(19zeros). You could fit 27072274.4 moons into the sun. Hence the mass of the sun is over 27 billion times greater than the mass of the moon.The distance of the sun from earth is 389.2 greater than the distance of the moon from earth. Hence, gravity of sun to earth is 27072274.4/(389.2)squared which is 178.3 times greater. There is an error in the calculations as I did surface to surface instead of centre to centre (lazy), but this will not change the fact that the gravity of earth to moon is insignificant. To answer Shauns queastion about the tides and the sun is that I am thinging about it. it is a really complex situation as the earth is spinning round and travelling through space at a rate of 66000 miles an hour. that means we are all travelling at 66000miles an hour! Sorry Paul, but unusally you are incorrect in this instance.

  10. Jim Kelly says:

    Thought about it. The reason the moon has greater affect on the tides is because the difference in force from one side of the earth to the other, with the moon, if far greater as it is closer and the diameter of the earth is relatively large when compared to the distance between earth and moon. Whereas the difference in force due to the sun from one side of the earth to the other is extremely small as the diameter of the earth compared to the distance from earth to sun is tiny. Which means the pull between earth and sun is nearly the same over the whole planet, put the pull due to the moon is greater on one side of the planet than the other.

  11. Paul Cooper says:

    So do you agree with me and every scientist on the planet now. I am stating facts that have been well documented for years.

  12. Duncan de Gruchy says:

    Very interesting comments guys! I dont get too bogged down with the technical stuff, it’s much more to do with my experience and catch records. I think you are looking at it from the moonphase viewpoint rather than the moontimes, which is what I concentrate on. The moonphase gives me a starting point but its the 4 moontimes (moon rise, high orbit point, moon set and low orbit point) within each daily 24 hour and 50 minute moon cycle that is the key. In my opinion, it makes no difference whether it is summer or winter, those moontimes will improve my chances if I arrange my fishing approach around them.

    I disagree with your point Paul about the 4 key main feeding periods being at sun and moon rises and sets. I agree that sun rise and set are potentially good feeding periods but are they always? If you aim to fish around the periods when the sun and moon rises and sets coincide (these days happen around Full Moon and New Moon) then you will increase your chances. The MAIN daily moontimes occur at high and low orbit transit times (H.P & L.O) and these feeding times will last for approximately 4 hours. As a matter of interest, the H.P and L.O transit times coincide with sun rises and sun sets at First and Last Quarter moonphases and will potentially be an even better time to go fishing.

  13. Paul Cooper says:

    Too technical for me I’m afraid.
    I think I will stick to fishing days only and take my chances.

  14. Jim Kelly says:

    To reply to Paul no, the gravitational pull of the sun to earth is roughly 180 times greater than the gravitational pull of moon to earth. Here is a link to one of those ‘every scientist on the planet’ that may be able to convince you. you will need to scroll down to the second article.

  15. Here are a couple of links which may be useful for those of you who would like to look into this subject a little more. First link will tell you when the moon is rising in your area…

    This second link will give you the moon phase to-day…

  16. Wouter says:


    I live in South Africa, it is still summer now. I only do freshwater fishing.

    We usually go to the same place to go fishing. It has a good reputation for great catches all these years.

    I went fishing there just a month ago with some good results, this was when the moon was almost full moon (Waxing gibbous 85% – 95%).

    I went fishing there again this weekend with no good results, not only me, but everyone that were fishing there had no luck, it was just shortly after full moon (Waning Gibbous 95% – 82%). I had a few bites and only 3 runs, but I lost those 3 fish when reeling in.

    So my assumptions are that after full moon until new moon might not be a good time to go fishing?
    Could I be about right?
    This proofed to me that the moon phase does have an effect on the behaviour of the fish.

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