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


MidwayUSA Pro Series Shooting Mat

G&F Staff

Shooters across the U.S. are using this competition shooting mat.


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

Lure Lock Options Includes LED Light Boxes & More

Pro angler Jonathan VanDam showcases new offerings at ICAST 2019, including the ultra-thin, big bait boxes, LED-lighted boxes and backpack-able gear lockers. With Game & Fish Editorial Director Adam Heggenstaller at ICAST 2019 in Orlando.

13 Fishing Inception SZ

Florida angling pro Jessie Mizell knows that the saltwater found in Sunshine State coastal fisheries can wreak havoc on even the best fishing gear. But with 13 Fishing's new feature laden Inception SZ saltwater baitcasting reel, tackling inshore and light tackle saltwater game fish just got a whole lot easier!

Berkley's New Terminal Tackle

OSG's Lynn Burkhead and Chad LaChance, host of World Fishing Network's Fishful Thinker television show, talk about Berkley's new innovative terminal tackle being introduced at ICAST 2019.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories


10 Most Common Reel Performance Problems

Anietra Hamper

Here are the 10 most common reel performance problems and how to fix them.


Find and Fish Bluegill Beds Efficiently

Terry Madewell - May 22, 2019

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies.


7 Best Bets For New Jersey Largemouth Bass

October 04, 2010

From Monksville Reservoir to Union Lake, plus five other picks, here's where you'll...

See More Stories

More Bass


How to Find Bass on Strange Water

Gary Lewis - July 01, 2019

Learn to tackle new lakes like MLF pros.


MLF Pros Checklist for a Day on the Water

Pete M. Anderson - July 02, 2019

Catching more bass starts before you leave your house. Here are 10 pointers to help you...


Topwater Lures, Tactics for Summer Bass

Ronnie Garrison - June 24, 2019

Here's how you choose the best topwater baits and where, when and how to fish them.

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.