Tides have a major influence on whether you catch fish or not. It’s the tides that help create ideal conditions for fish to feed. And if the angler is present during these times, their chances improve.
As a rule, most anglers prefer to fish on the high or low tides. And frequently, anglers will also monitor sun and moon phases but it’s the tides that brings them out. But it’s the specific part of these tides that make all the difference.
Ocean tides occur up to four times per twenty-four hour period – two high and two low. The tide phases are influenced by a number of conditions but mostly the moon. Frequently, we hear that it’s best to fish on the exact full or new moon or on the top of the high or low tide because in theory that’s when the bite is on.
Well, this is only partially correct. Let’s take a closer look at how the tides affect the bite.
First, a little background – when the high and low tide are at their peaks, the water is slack and not moving unless there is outside influence such as wind. And second, when the tide is between the high and low, this is where a significant water movement can occur between the two tide phases.
Now, let’s break down one side of a tide. At the highest phase of high tide the water is slack. As the tide begins to fall, water starts to move toward the low tide phase. As the level continues to fall, this tide or water begins to pick up speed until it reaches a certain point usually two thirds into this phase at which the water begins to slow again to a slack phase. Then the process starts again but in reverse.
So let’s do an example to help find the best time to fish. Let’s start with high tide at 600am and the low tide at 1200 noon. The tide is slack at 600 and with gravitational influence the water level or tide begins to fall. As the tide continues to fall, it will pick up speed typically around 0730 and continue to increase flow or speed until 1030. At this point the tide begins to lose its force and between 1030 and 1200 noon the tide slows and finally is slack again.
As you can see in this example, the fastest moving water and the best times to fish is approximately 1-1/2 hours after high and before low tide. Other times work too, but for increased success pick these. These three hours are the key!!
Remember, there are many other conditions that can influence the bite. Water movement is just one. Monitoring water temperature, seasonal migration and barometer can also improve your success.
But reviewing tide phase should always be part of your fishing trip preparation.
So the next time you pick up a local tide chart – do some homework and you might just catch some more fish.
Until next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony