Is the Best Time to Fish Low or High Tide?

by Lissabeth Ross
Study tide charts before you head out on the water to increase your haul.

Study tide charts before you head out on the water to increase your haul.

When planning a saltwater fishing trip, familiarize yourself with the tides in your area to choose the best time to go fishing. The movement of ocean water is controlled vertically by tides and horizontally by currents. Each day has two high tides and two low tides, and neither of them are good times to fish.

High and Low Tides

True high tide and low tide are probably the worst times to fish. When the water level reaches high or low tide, there may be no movement in the water for several minutes or several hours, depending on the tide schedule and the time of year. When water isn't moving, fish are less likely to be feeding. This is because the bait fish that fish feed on are not in movement. During this slack period, many burrow into the mud or sand.

Falling Tide

Because water is in movement when a tide is changing, these times are the best times to fish. A falling tide occurs when a tide changes from high tide to low tide and is the best time of the day to fish. The best time to take advantage of a falling tide is two hours before low tide. As the water changes from high tide to low tide, the water slowly begins to push out. The rate at which the water is pushing out increases. The faster the water is moving out, the better the fishing; game fish are used to taking advantage of this time to feed on the smaller bait fish being pushed out to sea.

Rising Tide

A rising tide occurs when the tide is changing from low to high tide. Although it may not be nearly as favorable to fish in a rising tide as to fish in a falling tide, fishing is very good thanks to the movement of the water and the feeding activity of the game fish. As with a falling tide, try to time your rising tide fishing about two hours before full high tide to make the most of fishing in a rising tide.

Location

Although nearly all ocean fishing is best done during a period of falling or rising tides, consider where you'll fish and the habits of the fish you hope to catch when planning your fishing trip. For example, a shallow area might prove to be a good area to fish during high tide but may not even have water, let alone fish, during low tide. However, a fishing area with a slough, a deeper section, is a good spot to fish for bottom-feeding flounder during low tide but a poor choice for high tide flounder fishing.

Moon Phases

Tides are controlled by the moon, and certain moon phases produce better fishing conditions. Full and new moons create better fishing conditions because they produce lower low tides, higher high tides and as a result faster currents between the tides.

About the Author

Lissabeth Ross began her career in journalism in 2005 as a staff writer for the "Journal of the Pocono Plateau." In addition to writing for several different newspapers, she served as the editor of the travel publication "News of The Poconos." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Rutgers University.

Photo Credits

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