Experienced fishermen know that the tides are key to catching fish near the shore. Fish like redfish, snook, trout and tarpon use the tides to help them catch fish. When the water is actively moving, during the first hour or so of high or near high tide, it moves prey toward the fish. And when fish are actively feeding, fishermen have a better chance of catching them. The best times to fish are when the tide is actively moving in or moving out.
Check the phase of the moon. Tides happen most days, but they are highest when the moon is the most full. The higher the tide, the more quickly the water moves and the more active the feeding. For the best days to fish during the year, check out the Farmer's Almanac in the resources section of this article.
Check the tide timings for your area. You can find these in your local newspaper or at your local bait-and-tackle shop.
Arrive at the fishing spot roughly 30 minutes before the tide is due to come in.
Focus on narrow channels or deep or low inland areas. Dropoffs, sandbars, passes, ledges, potholes or channels are known as fish highways. The water will begin to flow in these areas first, 30 or so minutes before the tide comes in.
Broaden your fishing area -- if you like -- to cover an area within 50 feet of the shoreline as the tide waxes to full tide and a few minutes after it begins to wane.
Change your position as the tide ebbs. Focus on the areas upcurrent of dense vegetation and bridges where fish wait for prey to float by as the current goes back out to open water. Also try narrow channels deep or low areas like those described in Step 4. As the tide goes out, fish stick to these areas.
Tips & Warnings
- Tides aid in fishing inshore species more than offshore species.
- Different species of fish have different feeding habits. The more you know about your fish's preferences, the better chance you have of catching it.
- Most fish are most active during high tide. Bottom feeders, however, are an exception. The best bottom feeder fishing is during low tide when the water is calm. The still water allows your lure to settle on the bottom long enough to catch fish.
- Camp Fish: Saltwater Fish
- Inshore Fishing: Andy McLean
- Florida Fishing Insider: Fishing Florida Gulf Coast Tides
- "Fishing for Dummies"; Peter Kaminsky, et al.; April 2011
- Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images