Fishing with the Tide
There's more to good fishing than just picking a high or low tide.
The most important are the location, wind and time of the year and the movement of the water and time span between each tide stand or slack water.
Being in the right place at the right time is perhaps the most important part of a successful fishing foray. If you aren't where the fish are, you can be assured you will not be catching anything. Water level, water movement, and movement direction all play a vital role in where the fish will be located.
The influence of tidal changes on a fish's feeding and migrating habits can not be understated. They move with the tide and feed at locations that provide them either access to food or the ambush ability at that food.
Over the span of the year daily tide changes range from none per day to as many as four (two high and two lows). Fortunately there are only two or three days in any year when there isn't some kind of a stand, either high or low.
The best prospect for fishing is when there is moving water. It can be either on an incoming rising tide or an outgoing low. Invariably the incoming tide always offers the best odds to score because the rising water covers new feeding areas for fish and frees from the bottom myriads of minute marine life upon which bait feeds. The poorest fishing occurs when there is no water movement, and occurs on the slack stand between changing tides. This slack period can range from just minutes to as much as nine to 10 hours. It's during this slack period that fish do relatively little feeding. The reasons is simple. There are no currents to bring schools of bait within range of the game fish, for during this slack period a lot what fish feed upon simply burrow into the sand or mud on the bottom or move into the grass in marshes.
High tide in the coastal marsh finds large schools of small redfish on a shallow flat, roaming in search of forage. Individual large reds can be seen tailing as they root for crabs and other crustaceans in the mud.
As the tide begins to fall, the water coming off these flats begins to funnel into small channels, leading into larger channels and eventually into the creeks and rivers. Fish sense the dropping water and will move out with the tide to deeper water. These tidal outflows to deeper water are where fishing can be great.
As the water drops, oyster bars become visible, and the juvenile crabs can be seen scurrying about the shells. Take note of the life that abounds on the oyster bars. They almost tend to be a self contained ecosystem, with each resident depending on the other for survival. Take note, because the larger fish in the area will definitely take note.
The prime influence on tides is the position of the earth in relation to the moon and sun. Tides are highest when the gravitational pull of the moon and sun are along the same line. Study the Gulf Coast Fisherman's Forecast Adjustment Times, Tide Table Adjustment Times, Tide Tables for your area and Current Movement predictions. Then base your fishing days on the data correlated. You'll find marked improvement in your fishing success.
Tides & Marine:
Tide tables and marine weather
6-month tide tables for any Tidal Reference Station across USA
Good site for interactive marine weather & water observations
Alternative source for marine forecasts & water conditions
Daily tide & current predictions on a graph for today &tomorrow
Water surface temp satellite images for Great Lakes, Atlantic, Gulf
A large proportion of sea anglers start their careers at the end of local pier. Yet, many never achieve the catches they should from these structures, simply because they fail to understand the basics and develop in built mistakes that cost them fish. Those same mistakes can last a lifetime.
The most common mistake you see made by pier anglers is to cast. Sea anglers generally suffer from the misconception that the most fish and the largest specimens lay further out in deeper water. They assume that the further out from shore their baits are, the better chance they have of catching something worthwhile. Wrong! In a nutshell, fish are where the bulk of the food is.
Providing your safety is guaranteed, piers can fish superbly well for big cod and bass during storms. The agitated water breaks off and smashes mussels and exposes worms and crabs.
You'll lose fish by the hook tearing free if you bring them straight up to the surface and let them splash about against a tight line. Get hooked fish away from the seabed, then let them tire themselves out in mid water before bringing them to the surface for landing.
When bites are few and far between, keep lifting the weight and trace off the bottom a couple of feet and then letting it fall back slightly downtide from the original point. This movement can induce fish to take. Changing to a slightly lighter lead sweeps the bait further underneath the pier.
Always tie your rod to the pier railings. Many rods have been lost by being pulled over the side by relatively small fish.