Skip to main content

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 THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

Sometimes you have to fish a bait that allows you to cover a lot of water efficiently. When you're on the search for bass that have moved into deeper water off the bank and away from obvious holding spots, a swimbait can locate them.

On the Search with Swimbaits

One of the best imitations of a wounded baitfish is the soft-plastic jerkbait, or fluke. A fluke darting just beneath the surface can be too much for a bass to resist. Rig it and fish it according to water conditions and cover to make this great bait even more effective.

Fun with Flukes

There are three models in SPRO's Outsider crankbait series: 55 (runs 3-4 feet), 60 (7-9) and 80 (19-21). Professional bass angler Jonathan Kelley goes over the specifics at ICAST 2022 in Orlando.

SPRO's New Outsider Crankbait Series: First Look

Professional bass angler Jonathan Kelley highlights the features of SPRO's new lures at ICAST 2022 in Orlando.

New Essential Series Spinnerbaits and Buzzbaits from SPRO

Syd Ribes with Sea Falcon highlights four new lures for saltwater fishing. At ICAST 2022 in Orlando.

New Lineup of Lures from Sea Falcon

Syd Ribes highlights two new saltwater lures from SPRO: Flutter Tail Shrimp and Cannon Ball Jig. At ICAST 2022 in Orlando.

New Saltwater Lures from SPRO

AFTCO's Matt Florentino highlights the features of the new Barricade cold-weather suit, a Best of Category winner at ICAST 2022 in Orlando. With Game & Fish's Adam Heggenstaller.

New from AFTCO: Barricade Cold Weather Tactical Gear

Three-time ICAST Best of Category winner Bubba covers it all with new knives set. With Bubba's Matt Kinamore and Game & Fish's  Adam Heggenstaller at ICAST 2022 in Orlando.

4-in-1 Bubba Multi Flex Cutlery Kit

The innovative landing net will weigh and measure your catch while it's still in the net. Best of Category winner at ICAST 2022. With Game & Fish's Adam Heggenstaller.

Award-Winning Frabill Witness Net 'Keeps You Honest'

Game & Fish Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

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

Get the top Game & Fish stories delivered right to your inbox every week.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now