Deep Sea Fishing: Knowing Your Tides
Capt. Skye Stanley, who guides from his Blue Heaven out of Islamorada, Fla., says knowing the tides can be critical to success. (Mike Suchan photo)
It might sound weird, but a thorough knowledge of the tides and their result on your fishing area can pay big dividends. In fact, it is rated a major key to successful deep sea fishing by experts. Most fishing guides and charter-boat captains know this secret. They make close studies of currents, tides, and how they affect fishing on their area.
However, it is depressing to declare that a lot of amateur deep sea anglers give very little thought to these key details. Indeed, some anglers do not pay any attention to them at all. Then they ask themselves why other fishermen catch all the fish and they do not. Nevertheless, there are those who do comprehend that tides have an effect on their fishing, but they do not know exactly how or why.
These anglers frequently waste hours trolling, casting and sinker bouncing even when the tide is not right. However, the deep sea angler who knows his tides can select in advanced the most favourable fishing times and concentrate his efforts on those times, which means that you can have fewer wasted days and get more fish during your deep sea fishing trips.
We do not need to delve into the science of tides here, except to point out that tides are due to the gravitational forces that are brought about by the sun and the moon. Since the moon is nearer the Earth, it has more influence on tides than the sun.
When the tide is up, water moves towards the land. This is also known as a "flood tide". When the tide drops, making its way back out, it is called an "ebb tide". The time when it does not move either way is termed the "slack tide". It takes a period of about six hours for it to rise, and six hours to ebb. For every 24 hours these tides take place about 50 minutes later than the last time.
They also vary with regard to the degree that they rise or fall. The highest tides occur when the sun and moon are situated on the same side of the Earth in a direct line. This kind of tide is called a "Spring tide", which happens during new-moon and full-moon periods.
During these periods, both low and high tides are higher than their customary state. However, during the last and first quarter phases of the moon, tides do not rise or fall that much. These are called as "neap tides".
So which of these tides are helpful and which are not? To start off with, most experts believe that flowing tides or currents are usually more productive than when there are no currents or tides. Therefore, a "slack" tide will rarely generate a good catch.
You can take even more help from tides by knowing when to go. The period in which an incoming tide starts is rated one of the most productive periods for fishing, especially if you are targeting game fish like bluefish, striped bass, channel bass, and weakfish.
During the periods of slack water, small bait fish are apt to scatter, and having a lack of strong currents to contend with, they are able to swim faster and therefore escape their predators.
However, when tides start moving, such small bait fish are at the mercy of strong rips and current. Therefore, they are easier to find and catch for stripers and other kinds of game fish. When an ebbing tide starts is another good time to fish, purely for the same logic. In general, the change of tide, whether it be low or high, is actually the best time to do your fishing.