The "Force" behind Fish and Game Forecasts
by John Uldrich, Director, Vektor Institute, a
research center devoted to the study of the "Earth Tide Phenomena--its
impact on earth--its inhabitants."
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John Uldrich was co-founder of Vexilar Inc., a pioneer in the development
of leading-edge technology in the field of sonar and temperature
sensing equipment for sport and commercial fishing. He is a member
of the Fishing Hall of Fame and was responsible for the creation
of the first "Preferred Fish Feeding Temperature Chart"
for both fresh and salt water species of game fish in the late sixties
and early seventies. His firm was also a pioneer in the development
of sonar search and recovery systems for use in law enforcement
rescue and recovery operations and archeological field research.
* * *
Fish and game forecasting has been part of the North American scene
since 1937 when the first activity table was prepared and syndicated
through newspapers and outdoor publications. A Pennsylvania banker,
an avid outdoorsman, made a life-long habit of reading, studying
and recording information about daily fish and game feeding and
migration patterns. He attributed the breakthrough in making meaningful
predictions to an old-time "market hunter" from South
Georgia who lived by what he could bring down with his punt-mounted
"long gun", nets' and traps. This backwoods hunter learned
from his father--who learned from his father--that the best hunting
and fishing coincided with "moon up" and "moon down".
Simplified, this meant that the best
times of the day were tied to those periods when the moon was either
directly above -- or directly below a transit line on earth. Later,
as the system became better known and understood, four periods during
the twenty-four hour and fifty minute Lunar Day were identified;
these came to be known as Major and Minor periods. The Major periods
were based on "Moon up" and "Moon down". Minor
periods were the times of the Lunar Day when the moon was at a 90-degree
angle to the right and left of that same transit point.
Improved fishing and hunting appears
to be directly tied to the increased gravitational forces occurring
when the moon, closest planet to earth and therefore primarily responsible
for the creation of this awesome force, is exerting maximum gravitational
effects on our planet. Fish and game, like the human body and composed
primarily of liquids, are affected, to molecular exact-ness, by
these daily forces. Today, it is generally understood that the
combined effects of sun and the moon are primarily responsible
for the moving forces. Hence, the use of the coined word, "Solunar"
stemming from "solar" for sun, "lunar" for moon.
The word has now become generic in its use and application.
Long before daily charts were made available,
man, going back to the caveman days, had a basic understanding about
these om-nipresent force factors and used the empirical information
intuitively to meet his needs for sustenance.
The first recorded observation of gravitational
forces is attributed to Pliny the Elder, at the beginning of the
Christian era. In his work, Historia Naturalis, he noted that at
Cadix, near the Temple of Hercules, "....there is a closed
source similar to a well which occasionally rises and falls with
the ocean, but at other times does the opposite....”
Abel, the early mathematician, in 1824
was the first to show that the earth was influenced by lunar-solar
attraction. Studies carried out by d'Abbadie in 1833 near the Gulf
of Gascogne, using baths of mercury, correctly linked ocean tides
to earth tides for the first time. C.A. Peters, in 1844 published
the first correct calculations for predicating such events.
In the U.S. the Coast and Geodetic Survey
(now called National Ocean Survey) had been supplying navigators
with information by which they could predict their own data since
1844. This was done by including mean high-water luni-tidal intervals
(the interval between the moons’s upper or lower transit over
the local meridian and the following high water) and tidal ranges
on the Survey’s nautical charts.
One published method for improving the
crude predictions apparently derived from John Lubbock’s research
in England, 1830's, provided corrections for the effects of the
phase of the moon and the declination and parallax of the moon and
the sun. The correlation between some tidal and lunar parameters
as noted above had been used long before the time of Newton.Another
related issue is that concerning “rigidity.” Only in
recent times has the belief that the globe was not rigid but deformable
or "plastic" in nature, begun to be accepted.
Today, with the use of precision measuring
technology, including satellites such as LAGEOS and GOBI, (Geophysical
Ocean-Bottom Instrument) sensing stations, scientists have determined
that these "-electromagnetic forces" cause the earth's
outer crust to deform up to 18 inches during the course of the Lunar
Day. Small wonder then that these same forces, acting upon objects
made primarily of water molecules, and blood cells containing iron
atoms, are affected to some degree, by these repetitive and changing
An important consideration for those
interested in the distinc-tion between "earth tides" and
"ocean tides" is that "earth tides", upon which
virtually all forecast systems are based, ignore the final result
-- ocean tides. The reason: ocean tides can lag up to 12 hours behind
the force itself.
Another way to view these phenomena is
to consider the tidal forces in the Bay of Fundy (an inlet of the
Atlantic in southeas-tern Canada between New Brunswick and Nova
Scotia). Earth Tide forces create tidal bores reaching 55 feet in
height while on some beaches in Tahitian waters in the Pacific Ocean,
thousands of miles away, tidal effect is measured in fractions of
an inch. Bottom topography and the length of time it takes a massive
body of water to react to gravitational forces rhythmically pulsing
throughout our solar system are the key force factors in-volved
in the daily tides themselves.
In 1877, England's Sir William Thompson,
later Lord Kelvin, building on prior research, showed that amplitudes
observed at the surface of the earth, for each phenomena deriving
from this potential (oceanic tides, and variations in the force
of gravity) would be affected by the deformation of the surface.*
Today, virtually all calculations for earth or ocean tide predictions
are linked to this man's work. In this respect, Lord Kelvin could
rightfully be designated "Father of Fish and Game Activity
Tables". Lord Kelvin's work was transformed into practical
application in the latter part of the 19th century.
Lord Kelvin and George Howard Darwin,
in the latter part of the 19th Century, developed the harmonic method
of analyzing and predicting tides. The first such machine, an analog
device, was created by Lord Kelvin in 1873. It summed 10 constituent
forces. William Ferrel of the Coast and Geodetic Survey created
one using 19 forces and R.A. Harris and E.G. Fischer of the same
office created one using 37 forces in 1910. This unit was in continuous
operation until the early 1960's when Univac-designed computers
took over the function.
Understanding the “constituent
forces” requires the knowledge that any tidal constituent
has a frequency equal to an integral sum and/or difference of six
fundamental frequencies corresponding to the following periods:
1. 1 day (period of Earth’s rotation
relative to the sun)
2. 1 month (period of Moon’s orbital motion around the earth)
3. 1 year (period of Earth-Moon orbital motion around Sun)
4. 8.85 years (period of lunar perigee)
5. 18.61 years (period of regression of lunar nodes)
6. 20,900 years (period of solar perigee)
Today, it is possible, to solve large
matrices such as tidal calculations via Fourier analysis and employing
large, entrained computer arrays. It is not clear however whether
the small improvement gained justifies substituting the response
method obtained from the classical harmonic methods pioneered by
Today, in Rockville, Maryland, in the
outer lobby of the U.S. Government's Office of Oceanographic Research,
is a huge, brass machine weighing thousands of pounds and made up
of hundreds of cogged wheels and pin settings. Using Kelvin's tables
of "constituent forces" (which incorporate force factors
based on the entire solar system), the wheel and pin system was
set into motion and, with precision, a tidal prediction could be
made for any place on earth! Without being aware of it, these early
scientists had created the first "Solunar fish and game forecasting"
mechanism. A similar device is at the Smithsonian Institute. In
effect, a mechanical analog computer, it functions to some degree
like Stonehenge in England which can accurately predict the arrival
of the summer and winter solstice.
So much for the past -- the theoretical...how
does knowledge of these "Earth Tide Factors" impact the
practical-- improve one's hunting and fishing?
A well-known professional fisherman and
tackle designer, who also produces fishing shows for television
shown world-wide, always schedules his filming against the full
or dark moon. Having noted that 70 percent of all world record catches
have been made when the moon was a significant factor, he calls
the phenomena, the "Lunar Influence" and, one to be reckoned
Two U.S. biologists announced in the 1980's, a discovery of a link
between a hormone--thyroxin -- and the moon's electromagnetic forces.
They had determined that the silver salmon smolt (one prepared to
migrate from stream to ocean) reaches prime physiolo-gical readiness
within one or two days of a new moon in March or April of each year.
Their studies indicated that peak levels of thyroxin in salmon occur
within a few days of a new moon and that thyroxin is what triggers
the change from a grilse (salmon in pre-smolt stage) to smolt. A
new moon occurs when the sun, moon, and earth are lined up and the
moon is not seen at night. These scientists believe linking release
of hatchery-produced smolt to the correct moon phase can assure
a much higher survival rate of young salmon -- a boon to fishermen!
Research conducted in the mid-sixties
at the University of Illinois under Dr. F.A. Brown, Jr., provided
the most dramatic proof that there was a direct link between tidal
forces and earth tides; bivalves, urchins, and sea slugs, transported
from the east coast to the mid-western university for lab experiments
were put under close observation. Within a matter of days it was
noted that the specimens were responding to "eastern"
time but after a week in their new home, had all adjusted to the
invisible but neverthe-less, powerful "earth tides" pulling
at them from their new transit point on the face of earth -- Evanston,
Illinois. This casual observation triggered a series of studies
on these phenome-na. It was not, however, the first . . .
Preceding the now famous Brown Studies,
Ernest Thompson Seton, in his Life Histories of Northern Animals,
published in 1909, stated, "A favorite time for (feeding) forays
is in the moon-light; and the rising of the moon is, in all much-hunted
regions, a signal for the deer to go forth. Many supposed irregularities
in their habits will be explained by reference to the lunar calendar...."
More recently, studies conducted on the
Welder Wildlife Refuge in Texas, a Ph.D... Dissertation on the "Daily
and Seasonal Activity Patterns of White tailed Deer", showed
significantly increased movement took place in the new moon phase.
The research data base related to the
"Earth Tide Phenomena" continues to grow, and with it,
the useful body of knowledge available to man in his pursuit of
the simple pleasures. As with many tools available to the fisher
and hunter person, bird watcher or wildlife observer, fish and game
forecasts are only part of the total matrix. Wind, weather conditions,
time-of-day, species sought, and numerous other "constituent
factors" here on earth combine with the Solunar forces and
must be considered. Fish and game forecasts are just one of the
many tools the "compleat" sportsperson has at his or her
beck and call.
This was put into its proper perspective
through the observation of the noted writer Hilaire Belloc: “When
they pontificate on the tides it does no great harm, for the sailorman
cares nothing for their theories, but goes by real knowledge.”
Substitute “Fisherman” for “sailorman” and
you have it all.
*The subject of earth crust deformation
is part of the on-going research being conducted here in China.
Prone to massive earthquakes, Chinese geologists and earthquake
researchers are examining the potential linkage between actual earthtide
forces and the onset of an earthquake.
John Uldrich for the Vektor Institute.
Selected Bibliography for interested readers:
J. Harker, "Diurnal Rhythms in the
Animal Kingdom," Biological Review, XXXIII (1958),.
F. A. Brown, Jr., Biological Clocks,
Boston: American Institute of Biological Sciences, 1962.
F. A. Brown, Jr., "The Rhythmic
Nature of Animals and Plants," American Scientist, XLVII (1959),
No. 2, 164.
Leaton, Malin, and Finch, "The
Solar and Luni-Solar Variations of the Geomagnetic Field at Greenwich
and Abinger, 1916-1957," Obs. Bull. G.B., LIII (1962), D273-D
Rachel L. Carson, The Sea Around Us,
Oxford University Press, 1950.
John D. Palmer, "Biological Clocks
of the Tidal Zone" Scientific American (Vol. 232, No. 2, February,
Cartwright, D., W. Munk and B. Zetler,
Pelagic Tidal Measurements, EOS, 50, 7, 472-477, 1969
Ferrel, W., Report of Meteorological
Effects on tides from Observations. Report of the Superintendent
of the U.S. Coast Survey for the year 1871, 1871
Munk, W. And K. Hasselmann, Super-resolution
of Tides. Studies on Oceanography, Hidaka Volume (Tokyo) 339-344,
Reprinted, Univ. Of Washington Press, 1965
Munk, W. And D. E. Cartwright, Tidal
Spectroscopy and Prediction. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Of London, A.
1105, 259, 533-581, 1966
Zetler, B. D., The Use of Power Spectrum
Analysis for Earth tide. Marees Terrestres Bulletin d’Information,
35, 1157-1164, 1964
Zetler, B. D., and D. Cartwright and
W. Munk, Tidal Constants Derived From Response Admittances., Sixth
International Symposium on Earth Tides, Strasbourg, 175-178, 1969
Boyd W. Walker, "The Timely Grunion"
Natural History, (Vol. LXVIII, No. 6, July, 1959.
Arnold L. Lieber, The Lunar Effect, Doubleday/Anchor
Press, Garden City N.J., 1978
Brown, Palmer & Hastings, The Biological
Clocks, Academic Press, New York, 1970.