By Terry Gibson

If you're planning a fishing trip to Florida, one of the most important considerations is the lunar calendar. Moon phases matter--bigtime.

If you're a bass angler, keep in mind that bass will spawn year-round in Florida, given favorable conditions. This is especially true from Gainesville southward. If you want to catch a big sow bass sight-fishing on the bed, get to your favorite lake a few days before the full moon. Also, bluegills and shellcrackers, two of our biggest and tastiest panfish, spawn on the new and full moons roughly from March through August.

Full moon phases generally cause the biggest tide swings, with the strongest currents. That's a good thing if you're full moon fishing under dock and bridge lights for species including snook, tarpon, jacks and trout. If you're a night-fishing owl, plan your trip around the biggest tides. The warmer months are best.

Some would argue this point, especially in the context of marlin, but avoid full moon fishing if you're after pelagic species such as mahi, king mackerel and sailfish. The fish tend to feed more at night, and in random spurts during the day.

Flats fishing can be excellent for tailing redfish and bonefish when the tides are most extreme. You will find the fish in places they can't usually reach.

There are many variables and a number of caveats to what I've written here. But it is vital to think about moon phases if you're serious about catching fish. Talk to your guide about this before settling on dates for a trip.