The tide is one of the most important factors affecting your success at sea fishing. It dictates fish feeding behaviors, where they can be found, and how likely they are to bite at a certain time.
Currents move water in specific directions, sweeping baitfish, crustaceans and other marine life around the ocean floor in circular movements that create whirlpools or eddies — concentrations of readily available food.
How Tidal Flow Affects Fish Feeding Behaviors
The moon and the sun exert their combined gravitational pull on the oceans, which cause the water level to rise and fall. This movement can be broken down into spring tides and neap tides, which are associated with the full and new moons.
Those tidal changes cause a wide variety of water movements and currents, which are essential for fish to thrive in the world’s oceans. The resulting water movements affect many aspects of fishing, including how and when fish will feed.
When fish are influenced by tides and currents, they become more responsive to feeding opportunities and more likely to respond to baitfish and other predators. This is especially true for bonefish.
Bonefish have been perfecting this skill for millions of years and have developed an incredibly effective way of using the tides to their advantage.
These fish use the tidal movements to find their prey and ambush them before they get too far from shore. As a result, they often avoid long-distance travel in search of food and instead focus on areas with less-distant predators.
In fact, some species of estuary fish prefer hunting when the tidal flow is slow and often move into eddies where they can hunt for their prey more easily. Mulloway, for example, hunt in back eddies during low-flow conditions and can isolate their prey from cover more effectively.
Which Tide is Best for Sport Fishing
Tide conditions can vary dramatically between oceans, lakes and rivers. These differences can make it difficult to plan a fishing trip without a lot of information gathered beforehand.
In a nutshell, the best time to fish is during a rising or flooding tide. This is because the water will move around and bring baitfish closer to shore.
This will increase bait activity and fish feeding frenzies. The water will also be cleaner and more oxygenated, making the fish feel energized and more willing to eat.
Another great thing about high tide is that it allows fish to feed near cover, which can be a big advantage in some areas. Flounder, for example, will often hide in a specific spot and wait for the incoming tide to bring them shrimp, crabs and other prey.
You can “chase” these good tide flows by running a boat to different locations to stay with optimal tidal movement for the rest of your fishing day. In some coastal river systems, you can even find a good run of flowing tides by just running a mile or two up the river and back down again.
Is It Better to Fish Incoming or Outgoing Tide?
When a rising or incoming tide flows over saltwater flats, fish will move towards these areas to feed. They will then follow the current towards deeper waters as the tide goes out.
Veteran inshore anglers know that moving water flips on the feeding switch in virtually all game fish. This simple concept has many applications to saltwater fishing and can help you determine when the best time to fish a particular location is.
Tide charts can be found online and are also available at local tackle shops. These provide tidal movement data in terms of feet and help you determine the best times to go fishing.
As the tide begins to rise, more water will crest over saltwater flats and shorelines, stirring up crabs, shrimp and worms. This food will draw hungry predators onto the flats to feed.
Another way to take advantage of an incoming tide is to fish channels that run between spoil islands. These areas usually hold big snook and other large game fish that will wait in these sandy pothole depressions until the tide brings them food.
The trick is to find these spots when an incoming or outgoing tide is moving through the area. This will give you the best opportunity to land a hefty snook.
High Tide Vs. Low Tide
Tides are a natural phenomenon that occur in the oceans throughout the world. They are a direct result of the moon’s gravitational pull on the earth, which causes the sea to rise and fall.
When fishing a high tide, anglers should target areas with bait and crustaceans. This can include creek or river inlets, peninsulas and sandbars.
Also, fish will often take cover in eddies if you are sight-casting during an outgoing tide. These big blenders full of food constantly churn and move around, sometimes throwing baitfish into the current.
Another technique for catching fish on a low tide is to find deeper water with structure, such as rock jetties or old piers. Captain Kevin Mihailoff of Everglades City, Florida, says these features can attract fish during times of low water.
In addition to targeting these structures, he says you can also look for the bottom contour. This will help you decide where to place your lure.
A high tide is the best time to target sport fish, as it pushes more bait into shallow water. However, this can be a disadvantage for anglers who are unfamiliar with tidal movements. Fortunately, tidal charts are available to help anglers determine which tides to fish.
Do Tidal Flows Affect Deep Sea Fishing?
The water in our oceans has tides, which are periods of time when high and low tides occur. These can be predicted and used for fishing purposes. Tides are caused by the gravitational pulls of the moon and Earth.
Tides are also influenced by the position of the sun, the shape of a beach and the size of the coastline, the angle of a seafloor going up to land and the prevailing ocean currents and winds. Because of this, tidal ranges vary from place to place, and are generally smaller in areas where the water spreads over a wide area.
Another thing that affects tides is temperature. If the water is too cold, fish won’t bite as often.
In addition, winds can make water muddy or clearer or affect where fish can be found. Wind can also cause waves, which can be a nuisance for boaters or fishermen.
Tidal flow information is commonly seen on nautical charts, displayed as a table of flow speeds and bearings at hourly intervals. These are based on astronomical factors, but weather conditions can change these predictions significantly.
Do Tidal Flows Affect Surf Fishing?
Tides are the rise and fall of the ocean’s water level. This movement is caused by the combined gravitational pulls of the sun and moon on Earth’s oceans.
The rising tide (or flood) moves towards land and reaches its highest point, while the falling tide (or ebb) moves the water back out to sea at its lowest. This movement is measured in hours and is called a tide cycle.
Tide movement also triggers feeding activity along the shoreline and can cause fish to stage in certain areas or orientate towards specific structure, like guts, rips, pinch points and other sand bars. This is why surf fishing the shoreline is often more effective during tidal movement than at other times of the day.
Another factor that affects tides is barometric pressure. High-pressure systems (such as west winds) push water down while low-pressure systems (such as east winds) push it up.
This can create a very large tidal range in some areas, allowing you to catch more fish. Other areas, however, have very narrow tidal ranges. In these cases, high tides and low tides may occur just twice a month, known as neap tides.
How Far Inshore Do Tidal Flows Affect Sport Fishing?
Tides are powerful forces that control the movement of water in and out of harbors, bays, estuaries, islands, and reefs. They also affect ocean currents, which can be a factor for offshore fishing.
Tidal flow can be a very important component of sport fishing because it affects fish feeding behavior. Some species, like snook and seatrout, tend to bite best when maximum water movement is occurring.
However, tidal tides are only one component of ocean currents and can be subject to wind, barometric pressure, and other factors. This means that anglers should rely on observations, rather than predictions, when deciding when to fish.
Likewise, water temperature can play an important role in how far inshore it is best to fish. Strong winter cold fronts can have an impact on inshore shallows and inlet mouths, bringing cool water that can concentrate predators near the area’s entrance.
In many coastal rivers and estuaries, tidal differences can vary by up to a mile or two from the mouths of the inlets and bay complexes. This allows anglers to “chase” favorable tidal conditions in different areas.