When you think of going fishing, the tides probably aren’t the first thing that pops into your mind. However, maybe they should be.
Everything You Need to Know About Tides for Fishing
Tides can actually have a big impact on how your fishing goes and on what you catch or if you catch anything at all.
Thus, by learning the different tides and how they affect fishing, you can improve your fishing skills in a variety of ways.
Don’t Go Against the Current
While there are all kinds of “rules” we could give you for using the tides for fishing, perhaps the most simple and effective of all is to avoid going against the current.
When fish swim, their goal is to conserve as much energy as possible. Thus, they will swim with the current for ease and better movement.
As a result, if you want to catch fish, it makes sense that you would want to be traveling in the same way that the fish travel. So, no matter what it looks like outside or what the water is doing, if you stay with the current, you should always stay on the right track for fishing!
Invest in a Local Tide Table
Something else that you will need to get for yourself is a good tide table, one designed specifically for your area. General tables can sometimes give you an idea of what the weather might be like, but you really need a specific chart for your specific area if you are going to have any luck.
If you can find a local tide table (check out local fishing supply stores and any stores near the beaches), you’ll be way ahead of the fishing game.
This chart will let you know when the best fishing tides will be based on water movement predictions. Such charts are typically very scientific and reliable, so, by following one closely, you’ll have a great chance at catching fish like a pro.
Don’t Try to Avoid the Tide
One mistake that novice fishermen will often make is that they will try to avoid the tide altogether. They somehow get under the impression that having no running tide will make fishing easier.
However, the opposite is actually true. Fish want the water to be moving and to be moving strongly and in a way that can carry them easily. Thus, just like the fish, you don’t want to avoid the tide.
However, try and get into the middle part of the tide. You want to skip out on very high tides or very low tides. A nice, middling tide, however, is exactly what you want for finding fish.
Understand that All Fish Are Not Created Equal
A lot of the time, when people learn about tides for fishing, they make the mistake of assuming that all fish are affected by tides in the same way.
However, this is not necessarily the case. While tides can have a major impact on some types of fish, they don’t really affect others all that much. Thus, how much you will need to know about tides and how much you’ll need to plan for them will depend largely on the type of fish you are trying to catch.
Snook and trout, for example, are typically very affected by tides. The difference between finding 1 and 100 all depends on the tides. Certain other fish, like redfish, however, may not be affected by tides all that much.
Knowing what you’re fishing for and how the tides affect it is a great first step in judging how much of an impact, if any, tides will have on you and your fishing.
Check Out Shallow, In-Shore Spots
The inexperienced fisherman will often assume that, to find the best fish, he needs to go as far out into the ocean as possible and as deep as possible.
However, those very spots that novice fishermen often avoid - the inshore, shallow spots - can often be teeming with fish, especially when the tide is right.
For some fish, their food moves into these shallower areas, which means, of course, that the fish move right along with them. Redfish are particularly prone to being found in these types of areas.
Thus, don’t make assumptions or overlook shallower spots or spots further in when fishing. They might just be a treasure trove teeming with fish!
Use Care When Fishing with the Outgoing Tide
A lot of people are under the impression that they won’t have much luck if they fish with the outgoing tide.
This is not necessarily true. What is true is that fishing with the outgoing tide can be more difficult since bait is likely to get carried further into channels and creeks, where you’re less likely to be able to easily retrieve it, let alone pull up fish.
Thus, if you’re going to be fishing during the outgoing tide, our suggestion is to carefully focus your line on the estuary mouths as best as you can. This is where you’re likely to find the most game fish since they are trying to catch all the bait and food (including yours!) that runs there during the outgoing tide.
Celebrate Tides that Move and Change a Lot
Sometimes, you get tides that stay pretty stable throughout the day.
Other times, however, you get tides that undergo big changes over the course of just a few hours.
Tides in that second category are what you want. That’s because, when it comes to tides for fishing, the more movement, the better.
Tides that move and change a lot carry with them more fish. What’s more is that the more the tides move, the more easily predictable the fish become. And, thus, the easier they are to catch, which definitely works in your favor.
Be on the Lookout for “Ambush Points”
There are some natural spots in water that easily trap lots of bait, thereby attracting fish.
These are types of places where shrimp and other small fish become food sources for bigger fish, and thus, they have no choice but to move through a specific path along with the tide. They tend to end up in these “ambush points” where bigger fish will flock to them.
By finding and fishing in these points, you can often catch a lot of fish at one time, just another gift of the changing tide.
Make the Most of the Incoming Tide
While any type of tide can be good for fishing if you know what you’re doing, there are few things better than the incoming tide, even for the beginner fisherman.
Incoming tidewater has a lower temperature and is more oxygenated, making it a haven for fish. It’s also clearer water, which allows you to see the fish and their hiding spots more easily.
Additionally, the low tide encourages fish to search for food, which makes it easier for you to find them. While the ocean should teem with fish during the incoming tide, you’ll have the most luck if you fish in the deep water beyond the flat. This is where you’ll typically find the biggest and most desirable fish.
Be Aware of the Possibility of Wind Tides
Not all tides are “water tides,” believe it or not. Sometimes, you’ll experience what fishermen call a “wind tide.”
This is when a tide is so small and non-powerful that the water is more affected by the wind surrounding the tide than by the tide itself
When this happens and/or when you’re in an area prone to wind tides, you can’t go too closely by tide charts, tide predictions, or even what you know about tides for fishing.
For this reason, many fishermen avoid fishing in these areas altogether. While you don’t have to do that, you should understand that these waters won’t be as predictable or as easy to deal with as areas not prone to wind tides.
Understand that Boat Access Can and Does Change
One final thing to think about as you draw up your fishing plans is that that tide can actually affect where your boat can go.
In many areas, just a few inches of water or rain can determine if your boat is going to be able to get to a certain spot or not. And, as you probably know, rain isn’t always predictable so you may get into a situation you didn’t expect or have to go against your carefully-laid plans.
By all means, map out your route and your plans before you head out to fish. They might work out great. Just be aware that those plans also might have to change a bit depending on what the water is doing and how high it is in certain spots.
Be Adaptable and “Go with the Flow”
Being adaptable to change in this way is a trait that will serve you well through all of the fishing you do!
Sometimes, you can predict the tide and its effect, and that’s great. When you can’t, however, just be willing to try and make the best of whatever Mother Nature throws at you!