Surf: A Momentous Moon - The Fisherman

Surf: A Momentous Moon

darter
This 42-pounder took a yellow darter in a boiling rip during the June new moon which happened to fall on June 5 that year.

The 2024 June new moon has the potential to be a pinnacle moment for surfcasters.

I think most surfcasters probably have a habit of running their finger down the columns of a new tide chart and circling (or at least mentally noting) a few key moments within the coming season that stand out as “can’t miss tides”. As shore-bound anglers, the negative effects of the full moon are magnified; sometimes a bright moon and calm seas combine to keep most of the stripers out of the shallower inshore waters. Boat anglers may be slamming fish within sight of the beach, but the surfcaster is left wanting.

This is why so many surfcasters salivate over the new moon. Dark skies are guaranteed – with or without clouds – and we’re going to be able to reap the rewards of the higher tides and faster currents promised by a set of moon tides, no matter what. Dark nights and higher tides combine to encourage more and bigger striped bass to venture into the waters of the intertidal zone. Faster currents give an edge to predatory fish which are better equipped to navigate powerful rips, allowing them to take advantage of any baitfish that find themselves swept out and struggling to fight their way back to the safety of cover or shallower water. And because greater numbers of predatory fish are in tight, on the prowl and looking for this common situation to play out, they become more susceptible to being targeted with plugs and other artificial lures.

When I slid my index finger down the moon column of my local tide chart and stopped on the dark moon in June, I think I may have audibly gasped. In my experience, there is no better placement for a June new moon than within the first 10 days of the month.  In many areas along the Striper Coast the sixth month, is also widely thought of as one of the best months for targeting striped bass from the surf. And with this month’s new moon falling on June 6, we really couldn’t ask for much better.

I think of a moon period as a seven-day affair, three days before, the day of the new moon itself, and the three days after. This period of time amounts to what my friend Jerry Audet refers to as a ‘fishing emergency’ – meaning you drop everything to focus solely on fishing.

Something else that’s stands out about this year’s June new moon is the tide height. The high tides are significantly higher around this moon (and the July new moon as well) than they are for the recent full moons and the lows are significantly lower, too. (This was not the case in 2023, when the June full moon tides were much higher than the new). When you have more water flooding in for high and less left over when the tide is out, that means more water has to move throughout that 6-hour tide cycle and that translates to faster currents, stronger rips and better fishing.

Furthermore, we are not always lucky about which tides produce the biggest floods, sometimes these big tides occur during the day and are much less beneficial to the surfcaster. I have spent years following and learning about the tides, but I still don’t understand why that is sometimes the case. This year, our strongest June new moon tides occur between June 2 and June 7, the heights will vary depending on where you fish, but they will definitely be the biggest tides you see this month—and these definitely qualify for “can’t miss” classification.

Another thing that should be added is that the striper migration is still underway and these stronger tides seem to serve as a signal that it’s time for different bodies of fish to move. From north Jersey to Maine, there will be big striped bass moving on this moon and they will be looking to capitalize on the feeding advantages these stronger tides offer. Do what you have to do to get out there as much as you possibly can this week, because there will be some impressive fish landed and you could be one of these lucky anglers, but only if you make the sacrifices to get yourself out there.

Now is the time to throw your big plugs, stay out too late, be a grouch at the office and will yourself to make something happen. I wish you all the best of luck.

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