Understanding tides

Taking the time to study tides, the moon and the effects that they have on fishing can have a profound effect on your fishing. Particular fish like certain tides and feed more consistently during certain phases of the moon. The following may help you to understand these foibles of the tide.


Tides can, and do, influence fishing enormously - inshore saltwater fishing especially. Tides deliver a smorgasbord of food to fish that lay in wait. Just as a trout in a river lays waiting for the flow to bring it a food supply, the saltwater cousins do the same. The only difference is that it is the tide, not the river that does it.

A draining, or flooding flat, shore, bay or estuary can be like a supermarket to a fish. Fish congregate in feeding areas to take advantage of these conditions and an aware angler can take advantage of this phenomena.

Falling tides - of a flat, or draining a bay funnel food into a small area and unsuspecting baitfish are funnelled towards a waiting predator.

Tides are simply the rise and fall of the oceans water's. These occur at predictable times each day, although wind and barometric pressure can sometimes affect the times somewhat. Tides are caused by the gravitational effects of the moon and the sun. The moon is responsible for most tidal movement due to the fact that it is closer to the earth.

As the earth and moon move relative to each other, the high tide follows the moon. The gravitational pull of the moon is so strong that it actually pulls the earth towards it at the same time. This literally pulls the earth away from the water on the other side of the world, and accounts for the fact that there are high tides on opposite sides of the world at the same time.

Twice during each 24 hour period the tide pours in, and out of bays and estuaries. As the moon rises around 50 minutes later each day, the tide does to. Most anglers figure the tide is an hour later each day. If you have good fishing at a particular part of the tide one day, returning 50 minutes later the next day will bring similar tidal conditions. It is also a general rule of thumb that tides are opposite from week to week. If there is a high tide at 2 pm Saturday, next Saturday low tide will be at 2 pm.

A tide is known as flooding when it is coming in, and ebbing as it is going out. At the peak of high, or low tide, it is known as either high water slack, or low water slack.

Spring tides occur twice a month when the sun and moon are in line, both at a full moon, and a new moon. Spring tides are usually high. Neap, or nip, tides, on the other hand are usually low and occur twice a month, at the first and third quarters of the moon.

There is no question that tides have a large influence on fishing. A high tide can make areas available to fish and fisher that aren't normally accessible, or when the tide falls, fish may become concentrated into a hole or gutter. Knowing and studying this can mean the difference between great fishing and poor. Keeping a log of catches, moon phases and tides can help you catch more fish.