High Tide and a Full Moon

My informant for this piece of folklore is my friend’s grandfather, who grew up in Arkansas and Missouri and spent much of his free time as a boy fishing.  As he and his siblings grew up, they carried this hobby with them and taught it to their children.

As the informant relayed the story, there is a lunar cycle that makes for excellent fishing.  When there are two full moons in a month, the second full moon, at high tide, brings catfish to the surface of the water.  This event must occur at night, when catfish are more abundant anyway, and this makes the catfish so easy to catch that one could barely get their bait in the water before a catfish was on the hook.  This event, which would occur about 2 times a year, and the night that was supposed to have the second full moon of the month became a tradition on which they would all go fishing together.  My informant mentioned that much of the reason for their excitement about this tale, especially as they all got older, was not so much the interest in the folklore, but as is so often with folklore, it became a reason for them to continue a tradition, which became the satisfying part of the experience.

My informant explained that he was told this story by his father, who had heard it from his father, and so on.  Certainly, it is scientific fact that the lunar gravitational pull affects the tides of Earth’s oceans.  My informant, along with his siblings, tested this theory many times.  He admits that as children, they were all skeptical about it but were willing to believe it based on the word of their father.  Sure enough, each time they tested it, they found an unusual abundance of catfish in the water, which always 5 or 6 feet higher than normal.  This was one of the things that made them enjoy fishing so much and each of the siblings relayed this piece of folklore to their own children, passing it along.