You’re all ready for an afternoon on location at your favorite fishing spot. You run through the list of all of your preparations. The right fishing spot? Check. The correct bait to meet all of your needs? Check. The right lures if that’s your method? Check. Going at the right time for the fish you are trying to catch? Check.
To answer your question we can say with an emphatic “Yes!” that the position of the tides do indeed affect how well you can perform your fishing activities.
Well, it looks like you’re all set for another successful day of fishing. So why is it even with all of this preparation it can still seem like a hit-and-miss proposition?
Why is it that you’re always hearing reports of your fishing buddies catching tons of fish every time they hit the lake, but for you, it always seems like more of a crapshoot? Well, perhaps it’s because even with all of this dedication and preparation, you are still missing one key attribute in regards to successful fishing…
As a matter of fact, the one thing you are forgetting is perhaps the most important part of most angler’s repertoire. They not only want to get their bait just perfect and go at just the right time, but they also want to allow for the correct positioning of the tides.
That’s right, the tides. Of course, many of the average, run-of-the-mill anglers will poo-poo this, claiming that it is totally without merit. However, just like you, they are also the ones who are sometimes going home at the end of a fishing trip empty-handed.
Wouldn’t you rather be like the others, seemingly catching all of the fish you want? Could it be possible that allowing for the tide is the right way to go for catching more fish? It could be, but before we answer that question definitively, a little science is in order. Here is some extra information about those mysterious tides:
There is a handy scientific definition for them.
The first thing that an angler needs to do regarding tides is to understand the science behind them. These tides are beholden to both the sun AND the moon. Although many individuals think that these tides are the result of a horizontal change in the water’s surface, this is only partly true. The tide is actually a vertical change where the waters either get higher or they recede.
This might seem pretty basic, but there are many anglers who either miss this or simply don’t care at all. However, they should, because the movement of the tides can cause their favorite fish species to bite or it can give them access to other areas of the water that they normally wouldn’t be able to get to. This basic understanding of tides is a great start, but there is much more that an angler needs to understand regarding tides.
There are several different types of tides.
Naturally, tides are usually caused by the gravitational forces of the moon. The moon usually has a tremendous influence on the tides, and for one thing, it can cause the tide to rise and move toward the land. This is known as the “flood” tide. However, the moon can also cause the tide to drop back, moving back out into the sea.
This particular movement is called the “ebb” tide. Of course, there is also a time period where the tide can move either way, known as the “slack” period.
Within six hours, the tide will go from low to high. Likewise, give it another six hours, and the tide will go down from high to low.
Tides can also rise or drop a certain amount, and this is contingent on the unique positioning of the sun and the moon in conjunction with the Earth. For example, if the sun and moon are facing the Earth in a direct line, that would make the tides go the highest.
This is called the “spring tides” and you usually see them either during full moons or new moons. However, when the moon is in the first quarter or the last quarter, the tides will remain fairly constant, with this tide phase being referred to as the “neap tides.”
Of course, all of this is highly-technical, scientific stuff. Those who are simply fishing hobbyists are often happy as a lark simply just getting out on the water, enjoying the waves, and simply seeing if the fish are biting. However, for those who take fishing more seriously, they are akin to the woman who was trained as a classical violinist and someone told her, “I would give my life to play as well as you do” and the woman simply replied, “I did.”
Much like this female violinist, these anglers want to look at every avenue in order to catch the most fish possible. So, with that in mind, we can say with an emphatic “Yes!” that the position of the tides do indeed affect how well you can perform your fishing activities. Of course, when it comes to the tides, anglers can be delineated into at least three different camps:
The Casual Salt Water Angler
This first group of salt-water anglers will pay little, if any, attention to the tides. Of course, they don’t catch as many fish as the other guy might, but as mentioned above, for them catching fish is just the icing on the cake. They are more of a fishing hobbyist than anything else. Simply put, they just enjoy going to their favorite fishing spot, nothing more and nothing less. If this describes you, then all the more power to you and enjoy your time out on the water.
The “I Know A Little Bit About the Tides But Not Very Much” Type of Angler
This next type is the one that knows that the tides have something to do with how much fish they will catch on a given day, and they might even acknowledge (or complain) about it with comments such as, “Well, the fish aren’t biting today, it must have something to do with the tide.” However, they either don’t have the time or don’t want to take the extra effort to plan for the tides during their fishing routine. These guys are a little bit above the rung of the other guy, but not by much. However, if this describes you and you’re happy with it, that’s fine.
The “I Want To Know as Much as Possible About the Tides So I Can Catch More Fish” Type of Angler
These guys are truly in a class by themselves, simply because of the fact that they don’t treat fishing just as a hobby, but as the sport that it deserves. They realize that you get out what you put in, and they are willing to do as much research as possible to determine how the tides can affect their fishing prowess.
They also realize that even if the tides are in a favorable position, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the current of the waters is going to do them any favors either. If you are in this category, then read on, because the rest of this article is for you. Here is some extra information about tides and those that study them that you should know about:
First of all, there is a whole discipline focused around what is called “surf fishing.”
You often can tell if someone is a surf angler because they will make remarks like “fishing the tides.” In a nutshell, these anglers will go out when they believe that a certain stage of the tide is favorable for them to catch more fish.
In many circumstances, these anglers have learned how to be a tide angler simply because they have fished a given location for years and they have learned that area’s tide simply through trial and error. Indeed, many of these anglers can get so proficient at this given area that they can almost predict in advance whether the tides on any given day will be favorable for catching fish.
A moving tide is often better than no tide at all.
Even though a surf fisherman who isn’t familiar with a given area is definitely at a disadvantage, they can still use their knowledge about the tides to their advantage. The first good rule of thumb is that it is often better to have a moving tide or current than nothing but still, slackish water. This is why many anglers study the tide very closely when they are ready to go fish in it.
Novice surf anglers will want to pay close attention to the start of the tide in particular.
Ask any experienced surf angler, and they will tell you that the most productive time for fishing the tide is when the tide first starts to come in. Gaming anglers in particular love the incoming tide because they know that’s the most likely time for them to catch such fish species as channel bass, striped bass, bluefish, weakfish, and many other varieties. However, these fish will have a tendency to scatter when the water becomes slack and they will be much more difficult to catch during this time.
Pay close attention to the outgoing tide as well.
If you have been doing tide fishing for any length of time, then you are also aware that you have to pay close attention to the outgoing tide as well. With the outgoing current, you will want to transfer
your targeted area either a little bit further down the river or closer to any beach areas that your fishing spot might have. Either way, whether the tide is going in or going out, a little bit of tide knowledge will definitely make the difference between coming home empty-handed or having a cooler full of fish.
Understand the best tides for fishing.
Of course, it can be helpful to understand which tides are the best for your fishing endeavors. Ideally, the best time to tide fish would be when it is either at flood tide or ebb tide. If you aren’t sure when the tides will occur at a given location, don’t fret; there are several tide-predicting manuals for the more popular fishing spots or you can even download a tide-predicting app on many of today’s cell phone models.
One of the reasons you should be aware of the high tide is because it will bring out tiny crustaceans that usually hide under the sand. No, you aren’t fishing for crustaceans, but if you are looking for a large gamefish this is crucial information because it won’t be long before they show up for the crustaceans in search of a tasty snack. Gamefish also have a tendency to lie in wait during this tide for these crustaceans as well.
Even when the high tide flows out, it can still be advantageous to you because it will often trap fish in reefs, inlets, rocky spots, or even bridge foundations or piers. This means that if you decide to boat fish during this ebb tide it could be advantageous to you.
Be aware of the currents created by the different tides.
Another thing that most tide anglers realize is that the tides will also bring in currents. If you have ever heard the phrase “do not swim against the current”, you should be aware that this applies to swimming fish as well. Unless they are spawning salmon, they will simply let the current transport them. Moreover, if you are fishing for the larger catches, they will often use these currents to ambush smaller prey. You can definitely use that knowledge to ambush them instead!
Be sure to safeguard all of your fishing equipment if you want to try low tide fishing.
One of the factors many anglers forget when fishing in lower tides would be the condition of their equipment. You have to be especially careful when fishing in low tides simply because the lower elevation of the water has a tendency to damage the motor of your boat. Yes, the fish might do better during this time, but it really isn’t worth it if your boat is harmed!
Naturally, the best way to sum up the answer to the question in the title is that yes, tides do indeed affect your chances of having a successful fishing experience. In all honesty, the more you invest in understanding the tides, the better chances you will have at catching a larger amount of fish! Check the tides before you go right here.
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