Cast & Blast

‘Blood moon’ or ‘Worm moon’? What that giant orb over the Lowcountry means to fishing

Did you see how high the tides got this past week?

I haven’t been paying as much attention to the moon phases and tides as I usually do but when I had to head over to Hilton Head and was going over the bridge, I couldn’t see a single speck of marsh grass sticking out of the water. It was all water, and from experience I knew the tide had to have been over 10 feet.

Then when I was sitting in my doctor’s office I overheard two guys saying that another “Blood Moon” was about to occur, and decided to Google whether this was correct and found out it was not going to be a “Blood Moon” but rather a “Worm Moon.”

Having never heard of such a thing, I read on and learned something new, a rarity for an old dog like myself.

Remember a couple of columns ago when I predicted that spring was here to stay? In that column I described signs of spring to back up my claim and one of those signs was the appearance of the year’s first flock of robins pecking in the grass across from my house.

Well lah-de-dah because the term “Full Worm Moon” originates from the fact that spring has sprung, the ground is warming up triggering earth worms to come to the surface and robins, yes robins, appear for the first time to feast on the bounty of earth suckers crawling near the surface. Neat bit of trivia huh?

But this particular “Worm Moon” is even more special since it occurred on the same day as the first day of spring, something it hasn’t happened since the year 2000.

Intrigued by this new knowledge, my wife, Karen, and I decided to walk down to the May River and watch the worm hatch, or in this case, the moon rise. It was spectacular, taking up a huge chunk of the horizon as it edged over the far tree line.

And talk about huge tides, it was a-ripping!

Usually not a fan of full moons because they make me weirder than normal, this one was worth the price of admission.

Another reason for avoiding full-moon nights by closing all the curtains in my house hoping that “what you don’t know can’t hurt you” philosophy, full moons pretty much shut down fishing. My theory is it is so bright at night that fish feed and come daylight they are like old Uncle Bobby snoring in his EZboy recliner after stuffing himself at a Thanksgiving feast.

In addition to the light, full moons usually generate huge tides and that huge exchange of water muddies up the water and, particularly inshore, the current is so strong even a 1-pound sinker has a hard time staying on the bottom.

A handful of fish use full moons to their advantage. During the May full moon in Port Royal Sound I have noticed that cobia seem to use this period to enter the sound. Then later around July and August, tarpon appear to relish the full moon days to make their entrance into our sounds. Other than that, I suggest you save your gas money, time and effort and go bowling instead of fishing.

But here is another observation around full moon periods that years of being on the water have taught me. During the week before a full moon comes some of the hottest fishing there is. Fish like big smoker king mackerel, wahoo and others go on the feed during these weeks.

Though I don’t fish for king mackerel as much as I used to, my trusty journal has stories of multiple kings over 35 to 40 pounds all caught during the week preceding a full moon. I remember one year in particular when I caught 14 kings in one day the week before the full moon, and there wasn’t one fish that was under 35 pounds. The largest that day was 48 pounds, which for around these parts is an absolute stud.

Lured in

Other than two shad fishing trips, I really haven’t been on the water much as of late, but by gum, I am ready to get out there. Every free minute is spent rigging lures for wahoo and dolphin, putting fresh line on all my reels and waiting for the UPS truck to deliver yet more fishing accessories that I absolutely don’t need. It’s like being a gambling addict because, as you can imagine, I get just about every tackle magazine in print. Thumbing through the pages, it never fails that a picture of a particular lure with big red letters saying “NEW!” next to it catches my eye. That in turn leads me to read reviews and all it takes is Joe Blow spouting it as “the bestest lure God every created” and I am on the phone ordering it. What a sucker I am. I have so many lures, and I mean really nice lures, I could easily outfit a fleet of 50 boats.

‘Run For The Bulls’

Lastly, here is an update on this year’s $20-grand dolphin tournament, the “Run For The Bulls” to be held on May 11 at Harbour Town. Limited to the first 30 boats to enter, slots are filling up fast and last year’s participants have first refusal but only until April 27. From then on, any boat can register, so get on the list. For entry forms and info go online to: or call the Harbour Town Yacht Basin.