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Wed, Dec. 11

Lake Mead striper fishing impacted by the moon

As I start into our second month of nighttime striper fishing on Lake Mead, I have some observations to share with you, especially when it comes to how the different phases of the moon affect the fishing.

I'm not a biologist, but I've been fishing for stripers at night on Lake Mead for going on 20 years now, and I've fished during all phases of the moon. I think that makes me some kind of an expert on this issue.

While I've done well at times no matter what the moon phase was, I really believe that the dark of the moon is the best time to go striper fishing, and here is why.

In my fishing business, I use a lot of lights. I have a pair of green Hydroglow submersible lights, one 2 feet long, and one 4 feet long, that I use exclusively to draw up both zooplankton and phytoplankton, which are the single-cell organisms that the threadfin and gizzard shad in Lake Mead feed on.

I also have clip-on 12-volt modified shop lights that are mounted on the rails of my boat. They provide light for our clients to see their fishing poles and they also draw in plankton and minnows.

When there is no moon, and the sky is dark, our lights bring up the plankton, which bring in the shad, which in turn bring in the stripers and catfish.

Essentially, I am setting up the food chain in the lake.

Last summer we had a run of three nights in June where we caught 196, 203 and 235 stripers. It was during the dark of the moon.

I keep some fairly detailed records regarding the conditions that we encounter while fishing at night. Included in that data is the moon phase.

Here are some facts that you may want to consider when planning your next fishing trip on Lake Mead.

In late May, fishing trips at night when the moon was getting darker produced catches of 75 and 72 fish.

On June 2, when the moon was almost dark, Joey Powell and I caught 57 fish in just 5 hours of fishing.

On June 4, the night of the Stripe R Rama 25 tournament, the moon was dark.

Jay Chan and I caught 95 fish.

Three days later, fishing with just a 10 percent moon, Cody Jalbert and I, along with H.L. Green, Ben Ferneau and David West, brought in 175 fish!

A week later, the crew from was out there filming an upcoming fishing show (Arizona Outdoors Today) and in just three hours and 15 minutes, we brought 158 fish into the boat!

Now let's fast forward to just two weeks later, when the moon was full.

During trips on June 17, 18 and 20, we got just 59, 61, and 61 fish. Here is why I think that happened. The moon was full, which makes my lighting setup less effective.

I spoke with Region 3 Aquatic Resources Specialist Gregg Cummins about my moon theory.

He agreed that the lights probably work better on the dark of the moon nights and that my idea about the lights bringing in plankton is sound.

"That is why we tell people that fishing on the dark of the moon is better," Cummins said.

The last couple of trips on the lake now that the moon is getting darker verify my theory.

My summer intern, Joey Powell, and I fished with a couple of guys from Tucson last Friday night. Though the action wasn't wide open, we did bring in 120 stripers and three channel cats.

I bet in the coming weeks, as the moon gets less and less visible, the action on Lake Mead is really going to pick up.

If you are thinking about planning a night trip to Lake Mead, you might just want to look on an Internet site that I use to determine what the moon phase will be on any particular night. That site,, has some valuable data that is free to anglers.

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