Total Solar Eclipse Fishing: We Caught 'Em

Total Solar Eclipse Fishing: We Caught 'Em
G&F digital editor Scott Bernarde with "Eclipse Fish" caught Monday, Aug. 21 (Photo by John Rafferty)

G&F digital editor Scott Bernarde went fishing during the 2017 solar eclipse to see what would happen.

I found a great excuse for playing hooky. That's not to say I did that.

The next time a total solar eclipse crosses the country — April 2024 and August 2045, according to scientists — you gotta be at the lake fishing.

I did just that during the Great American Eclipse Monday, and without even trying, I checked a bucket-list quality experience off the list.

solar eclipse fishing Atlanta-area angler John Raffterty with his "Eclipse Fish." (Photo by Scott Bernarde)

Curious about the eclipse's impact on game and fish, I set out Monday afternoon at a private pond north of Atlanta to see for myself. Metro Atlanta is about an hour south of the "path of totality," but I figured the expected 97% partial eclipse would have to do.

I teamed up with small-lake aficionado John Rafferty and, with permission from the land owner, took to a 6-acre pond with a reputation of holding quality largemouth bass. Our aim was to see if our fishing experience would change once the sun dimmed.

The answer: Yes and no.

Here's the deal, fisherman are noted for believing whatever they want, and if you think something — anything — will improve your success rate, you go with it.

Sliding into the pond around noon, we fished through the celestial event for a before-and-after comparison.

solar eclipse fishing More than 20 fishing, mostly largemouth bass, were caught during the solar eclipse in Atlanta, Aug. 21. (Photo by Scott Bernarde)

Here's what we noticed:

  • Of the more than 20 fish caught, which included crappie willing to bite Rat-L-Traps and Rage Tail Rage Craws, more than a dozen came after eclipse began to dim the light.
  • We caught most of the fish the same way — on a weightless Rage Craw skipped to the bank under shoreline bushes — so the eclipse didn't move the fish.
  • We caught three fish, including a hungry crappie on the soft-plastic bait, during the five minutes of the eclipse's peak. They were called "Eclipse Fish."
  • At peak, the wind seemed to die down and it was became oddly quiet, except for the buzz from expressway traffic within earshot. Birds were chirping again 30 minutes after the peak.
  • It was unusually cool to track the eclipse with solar sunglasses in between hauling in several bass in the 2-pound range.
  • At its peak, the sun was just a sliver behind the moon, even though the pond looked more like 8 p.m. dusk.
  • A duck followed us the entire time, apparently meaning it was more focused on a handout than what was going on above.

soloar eclipse fishing Bass were actively feeding during the 2017 solar eclipse in metro Atlanta. (Photo by Scott Bernarde)

Now, the "science" of the fishing experience was anecdotal at best. The fish were still biting when we pulled off the water around 3:30 p.m., and we might have caught 20 more by sundown.

We figured we'd catch 'em pretty good at that pond; it's hard not to. And since there's no real way to repeat the test, we certainly didn't discover a hot new pattern.

And maybe, just maybe, we were simply looking for an excuse to get out of the office.

But, since it'll be 2078 the next time a total solar eclipse comes this close to home, I'll be more than happy to talk about my once-in-a-lifetime experience until then.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

Recommended for You


Game & Fish Magazine Names New Editorial Director

G&F Online Staff - May 23, 2019

Adam Heggenstaller takes over after 14 years with NRA Publications.


Quick Tips: How to Spot and Stalk a Hog

Ian Nance - May 28, 2019

Try these tips to improve your wild boar hunting skill set.


MLF Pros: What's With the Moon?

G&F Online Staff

We're told to pay attention to the lunar phases. What do bass pros think?

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Mustad Skatter Shad Bladed Jig

As Mustad continues to expand into an all-around tackle company, Reid McKinstry shows off some innovative features that make the Mustad Skatter Shad bladed jig a winner in big bass waters.

MLF Pro Tips: Go-To Baits for the Spawn

Major League Fishing pros talk about the first lure they choose when targeting spawning bass.

Mustad's Saltwater Jig Lineup

Russ Whisler shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead the innovative features and great color schemes in Mustad's voluminous lineup of saltwater jigs introduced at ICAST 2019.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories


Top 10 Biggest Pike World Records of All Time

Jack Vitek - August 19, 2015

While wildly popular amongst anglers around the world, the IGFA World Record book shows the...


12 Great Catfish Baits

Jeff Samsel

Dozens of different bait types are commonly used for catfish, including these great options.


How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait

Keith Sutton - August 04, 2015

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews...

See More Stories

More Bass


Largemouth Tech Tips: Water Temp, Fishfinders, Lure Hacks

Dr. Jason Halfen - August 09, 2019

These three skills belong in your bass-fishing bag of tricks.


MLF Pros: What's With the Moon?

G&F Online Staff

We're told to pay attention to the lunar phases. What do bass pros think?


MLF Pro Tips: How to Fish New Waters

G&F Online Staff

These Major League Fishing pros share their approach to a new lake.

See More Bass

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.