When you’re out on the water, it’s important to be aware of the tides. Not only will it keep your boat afloat, it can also point you in the right direction for fish. Tides drive the water’s current which, in turn, drives the fish activity in the area.
The rise and fall of water levels causes movement, which creates currents and beltways for fish to use. Normally, fish will either ride these currents for less strain while swimming, or look to escape behind a structure or eddy to conserve energy. Knowing how fish react to tides can help you place your line out in the right spot.
Pro saltwater fisherman Captain Blair Wiggins shares some pointers to better understand how tides can impact your fishing trip.
FISHING THE TIDES
Fishermen often debate the best tidal times for fishing (high tide vs. low tide), as well as which depth to fish the current. While time is a personal preference, Wiggins believes, however, that you shouldn’t worry about fishing the top of the tide or the bottom. Fish are going to be feeding throughout. Rather, the veteran angler says that you should mainly focus on the characteristics of your fishing area.
“What I’m telling people to look for when they’re out on the water is look for life,” he says. “And it doesn’t necessarily have to be birds flying around or fish jumping. The water can be moving around a sandbar, and whether it’s incoming tide or outgoing tide, it’s going to create little eddies and little disturbances.”
These pockets of movement, which Wiggins calls “undulations,” can be great places to look for hungry game fish. The eddies and disturbances serve as premier ambush points for these aquatic predators to easily feast on smaller bait fish that get caught in the current.
“If there happens to be an injured bait fish swimming through there,” Wiggins says, “he gets all disoriented and a lot of times you’re going to find your predator fish, the ones we like to catch and eat, sitting outside of that little eddy.” It’s an easy meal for them, and an easy way for you to identify where to cast.
BONUS PRO TIP: In addition to the tides, keep the wind in mind, too. Wind-aided current can battle tidal flow, making for difficult water movement. Always make sure you know exactly where the water is moving. This can help to better identify where game fish could be swimming and where to position your boat.
When you’re out on the hunt for that prized game fish, take a breather and let the water do the work. Now that you know what to look for, let the tide guide you and point your sails in the right direction.
Looking for more saltwater fishing advice for your next venture out on the water? Listen to Captain Wiggins’ Advice for Saltwater Fishermen as well as his tips on Choosing the Perfect Sunglasses for Saltwater Fishing.