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News Articles

Lunar phases effect hunting

By Art Cone
The Virginia Gazette

Published June 30, 2004

Received a review copy of an interesting book, “Biological Time,” by Bernie Taylor. He goes back to the cave art left by ice age people in Europe and explains that all the portraits of wild horses, lions, bison, mammoths and other mostly extinct creatures are actually explanations on how to improve hunting success by following the phases of the moon.

This explanation involves Native Americans too, for Pacific coast tribes used and even today employ the moon to let them know when to set their traps for salmon and steelhead trout.

Many of our bird species are moon-oriented. For the moon is a safer reference for migration than dependence on weather. Weather can, as we Williamsburgers know, suddenly change from cold and dry to hot and muggy without long-term rhyme or reason. To receive a copy, call EA Press at 503554-0473.

Evidently, migratory fish such as salmon and our local striped bass, flounder and bluefish base their movements more on natural cycles of light and darkness than water temperature. I'd guess this book, filled with tables and charts, would be a good source for a thesis or term paper.

Before we get to local fishing, parents who are fed up with children loudly insisting they are bored, the Hebricus Foundation and Chesterfield County are jointly sponsoring a river camp July 26-30. It's for boys and girls aged 8-12 and includes fishing, canoeing, kayaking and hiking on and around the James River. Cost is $112. For more information, call 804 706-1340.

An ancient song may sing, “Every time it rains, it rains pennies from heaven.” I worry that inflation has affected this ditty because our rain seems endless. We do get a few days off now and then but the constant downpour has muddied much of our smaller waters.

However, giant catfish are active in the James and elsewhere, and at least one lucky angler bagged a 70-pound blue catfish, while plenty of others from 20 pounds and up are cooperating nicely.

These blues and flatheads enjoy a diet of small bream or strips of herring. I'd guess that dark meat of bluefish or tuna would work very well.

Should you eat them? Unless you're pregnant, an occasional meal would probably be fine. These big fish eat smaller fish rather than garbage. Besides, you will skin and clean them before cooking. Filleting, so you can discard bones too, is a further help. If you are interested in a guided catfish outing, I have some names and phone numbers.

On more familiar turf, or waters, Chickahominy, Little Creek, Waller Mill and Lee Hall are within easy reach. The only caveat is that Little Creek success mostly comes near the dam, a long haul from the boat and motor rental area. This means you won't do well unless you can invest a couple of hours getting back and forth from prime angling areas.

There are few smaller ponds scattered about, but most are private. However, if you have a small boat or canoe, Diascund Reservoir off U.S. Route 5 has plenty of lily pads and fish. There is a state ramp for our use but no other facilities.

There is terrific offshore action east of Virginia Beach. Once again, weather could be a problem.

I'm sure the charter skippers are going nuts with cancellations and rebookings. Even with fuel prices high, four or five people splitting a charter can get enough mahi-mahi, tuna, bonita and blues to make them happy, and the party boats after flounder and sea bass are very successful.

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