You Can’t Eat Off a Solunar Table

By Jim Mize

Beanpole’s mood reminded me of a tire with a slow leak; he was generally deflating and sinking lower by the minute. He leaned over the café table as if holding his head up was a major effort.

“What gives?” I asked as I sat down across from him.

“Oh, nuthin’ much,” he said. Beanpole took a sip of coffee as if it might be his last.

“No, really. Why all the gloom?”

“I can’t catch a fish,” sighed Beanpole.

“Well, there aren’t any in here,” I said, figuring stating the obvious might be helpful.

“You know what I mean. When I go, I get skunked. Either I’m going to the wrong place, using the wrong bait, or going at the wrong time.”

Ronnie swung by our booth to heat up our coffee and overheard Beanpole’s comment. His two-cents-worth never cost that much so he gave it to Beanpole as he poured.

“What you need to do is get you one of them Solunar Tables,” said Ronnie. “It tells you exactly when to fish.”

“Where do I get one?” asked Beanpole.

“Down at Billy’s Bait & Tackle. He has a bunch.”

“Thanks,” said Beanpole, pushing a buck onto the table for coffee. He then rose and walked out without a word.

Ronnie looked after him as Beanpole left. “Well, I didn’t mean right now.”

A couple days later, I bumped into Beanpole again at the café. He was hyped up on coffee and talked faster than an auctioneer paid on commission.

“I got me one of those Solunar Tables,” said Beanpole. “These things are great. They tell you when to fish right down to the minute. You have to make adjustments for where you are on the map, but I got it figured out. I won’t waste my time anymore fishin’ when the fish ain’t bitin’.”

I had settled in and ordered a burger by the time Beanpole finished his lecture.

“How does it work?” I asked.

“It’s based on the sun and the moon. Sometimes tides. But we don’t have tides on our lake. So I figure it’s just the sun and the moon,” said Beanpole.

“So if the sun don’t shine you catch no fish?”

“No,” said Beanpole. “It’s more complicated than that. Fish get more active when the sun and moon line up. They have these major and minor periods that you want to fish during for the best luck. All this was invented a hundred years ago by some fellow named John Alden Knight. But now, they do all the figuring for you and put the best times in this book.”

Beanpole passed the book across the table, and I looked through it. There were diagrams, pluses and minuses, and lists of times. It looked easier to catch a fish than decipher these tables.

“So, what are you going to do with it?” I asked.

“Tomorrow I will go fishing just during the major and minor periods to see if my luck changes. I’ll give you a call after.”

That day went by without a word from Beanpole. It wasn’t like him not to call, so the day after I hung out at the diner when Beanpole usually comes in. He was an hour late and looked like he’d been dragged behind a combine.

I let him settle into the booth before asking the obvious question.

“How did those Solunar Tables work for you?”

Beanpole looked up like a puppy passed over for adoption.

“Not so good.”

“Well, you better tell me the whole story.”

“Ok. The first major period on the table started at 5:19 am and ended at 7:19 am.

When Nell heard my plan, she decided I didn’t need to waste all that time waiting for the next period to roll around, so she told me to come on home after and mow the grass. So, I was out at 4 am to launch, fished two hours, and then scampered home and ran behind the mower to finish the yard. I had to be back at 1:12 pm to fish the minor period.”

“Then, I fished the minor period until 3:12 pm and came on home. Nell said the grass being mowed showed how shaggy the shrubs were, so I trimmed the bushes. The next major period was coming up at 5:39 pm so I had to hustle back to the lake and launch again.”

“But I hadn’t eaten all day, what with the runnin’ around and launching and unlaunching the boat. I forgot if I was comin’ or goin’. So I backed the boat down the ramp and pulled the plug out of the back. I was doin’ everything in reverse.”

“By the time I got the truck parked and came back to the boat, it was almost underwater. So, I went and backed the trailer in again and got the boat on it. Then, I pulled it out again and let it drain.”

“By then, I forgot I hadn’t even fished. I was all the way home before I remembered that I didn’t even go out. So, I just made a sandwich and went to bed.”

Beanpole looked a little sheepish by the end of his story.

“Did you catch any fish doing all this back and forth to fish by the Solunar Tables?” I asked.

“Not at first.” admitted Beanpole. “But I did end up with a mess of bluegill by the end of the day.”

“What did you catch them on?”

“Sort of on crickets.”

“How can you ‘sort of’ catch bluegill on crickets?” I asked.

“Remember when I said I almost sank the boat? Well, the cricket cage went under, and all the crickets floated out. The bluegill came out from under the dock and were feasting on them. So, when I pulled the boat back out and drained it, I had a nice mess of bluegill flopping around on the floor.”

“One last thing,” said Beanpole. “Will you take these Solunar Tables?”

Beanpole pushed the book across to me.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because Nell can read them better than I can and has started figuring out what jobs around the house will fit between the feeding periods. She’s about to work me to death.”This story is an excerpt from Jim’s award-winning book, Fishing With Beanpole. You can find his books on Amazon or order autographed copies from the author at

Jim Mize has received over eighty Excellence-In-Craft Awards, including awards for each of his first three books: The Winter of Our Discount Tent, A Creek Trickles Through It, and Hunting With Beanpole. Also, Hunting With Beanpole was selected for the Pinnacle Award from the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the organization’s highest honor for books.

Fishing With Beanpole is available in paperback and e-book formats from Amazon. Autographed copies of all his books may be ordered from