How to Fish the Tides

Whether you know it or not, your fishing experience is dictated by the tide. That’s why it’s in your best interest to work with the tide when you fish as opposed to against it. There are plenty of options that you can take to get familiar with the tides of your favorite fishing spot and plenty of techniques that you can try once you’re there.

Get to Know the Tide

Tide Table Lookup
Live to Fish Tide Table Lookup Program

Before you head out, decide where you’re going to be fishing, what time of day (or night) you’re going to be fishing, and how long you’re going to be fishing. Once you’ve made these decisions, you’ll want to check the local tide tables. You can use a physical chart, like ones printed in a magazine or your local newspaper, or you can check our handy onsite tide table lookup program. Looking at these predictions will help you to know what times the low and high tides will hit. Our tide table lookup page also has helpful information about why tides are important, different types of tides, the best time to fish, and other useful information.

Understanding the tide is essential for a good fishing experience. The tide controls the current and the current controls the movement of the water. A low tide reveals structures that you may or may not have been aware of, and a high tide will flood a fish aggregator, or an object designed to attract fish to a specific area.

Even after perusing the tide table, it’s important to take adjustments to the tides into consideration. This can often depend on location and timing. The tide reading will often be given for a base point. If you aren’t fishing exactly at the base point, you are going to have to make adjustments to the tide reading. These adjustments can range anywhere from a few minutes to several hours.  Making adjustments can mean the difference between heading out to the water earlier or later than you initially intended.  Be sure to also take the movement of the current into consideration as well.

It’s important to remember that in most cases, fish want to swim along with the current rather than against it. They do this to conserve energy. As such, when you are fishing in shallow water (whether you’re in freshwater or saltwater), be sure to cast your bait up current. This will help to give it a more natural presentation as it moves through the water.

Inshore & Sight Fishing

If you do any sort of sight fishing from the shore, it’s good to be aware of the tide. In high tide,  fish will become more visible as the pursue prey that may be moving closer to shore when the water level is higher. You can also use the position of the tide to determine when a large amount of fish are going to be in an area. Not only to they become more visible to the eye as they pursue prey, but they will often crowd into a spot where they know that prey species will congregate as they are forced to move with the tide. The fish will do this to ambush their prey.  If you know where these spots are,  you can, in turn, ambush the fish.

As mentioned earlier, a low tide can reveal structures or  tidal paths that you might otherwise not have noticed. It can also draw fish into an area because they know that they have a better chance of finding food.  Eddies and jetties can move baitfish into a current that they might otherwise not have been in. Larger fish will take advantage of this. Fishing eddies works in saltwater as well, especially where the water is deeper.

What to do if there is no Water Movement

If you’re fishing in low tide areas with no water movement, try to go for spots that are different than where you would normally fish if the water was moving. Go for underwater weed beds, potholes, or areas where the water will cut through land. There are fish there that wait for baitfish and other prey species to appear. They’ll be hungry and more likely to go after your bait.

When the Tide isn’t Working in Your Favor

There will inevitably be times when fishing with the current isn’t giving you the results that you want. This can happen when the current and the tides are working against each other or in particularly windy conditions when there is a lot of water movement. In this instance, it’s important to remember not to fight the movement of the water. Change gear and change directions if you have to.

Regardless of how you fish the tide, it’s important to be familiar with your water conditions before you head out for the day.   Do you have any tips or techniques for fishing the tides? Share them in the comments or get in touch.


2 thoughts on “How to Fish the Tides

  1. Pingback: How to Fish the Tides | Stewart & Stewart, P.A., A Florida Law Firm

  2. There are many, many reasons to be aware of tidal conditions well in advance of your fishing trip. The tide moves the water and moving water is one of the main influencing factors impacting fish activity. In fishing the tide, it is important to work your lures or live baits with the tide. That means to cast in the direction opposite of which the tide is moving, and work your lure back towards you in the direction the tide is flowing. If fishing live bait, casting out against the tide, and letting your bait drift back towards you with the tide, is the way to go. When you work a bait against the tide, you’re doing something that’s unnatural. Baitfish move in the direction the tide is flowing. Game fish, the fish you’re after, are inclined to feed on the smaller baitfish that are being swept and moving in the direction the tide is flowing. This doesn’t mean you won’t ever catch anything by working a bait in a direction opposite of the tidal flow, but it will be a lot less likely. While you’re fishing your lure, always check it for seaweed or coverage by any other debris before every cast. Baitfish don’t swim around with seaweed hanging from their bodies. Your lures shouldn’t either.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s