How can using tide charts improve your fishing success?
Expert fishermen use tide tables to help them predict the location and time they’ll find their target fish species. Most people will instinctively check the weather forecast before their fishing trip. This allows them to prepare correctly for conditions like sun, rain, wind, or thunderstorms. If dangerous weather is forecast, you can make a go or no-go decision on your trip.
Looking at the tide charts can be similarly helpful in your preparation for your fishing trip. In combination with the weather forecast, you’ll get a more complete picture of the type of seas you’ll encounter. And tide charts can be read like a schedule for the fish you plan to target. Hopefully, when you finish reading this, you’ll understand how to use tide charts as an aid to locate the fish you seek.
High and Low Tide
High and low tides are easy to see along coastlines, where structures are attached to the bottom and continue above the surface, giving easy visual references to the water levels. Docks and marker poles are two good examples. Tidal ranges can be quite pronounced in some areas, with the difference between high and low tide being ten feet or more. Conversely, high and low tides can go completely unnoticed offshore with no above-water reference points or markers.
Over the year - daily tide changes range from 0-4 per day (2 highs, 2 lows). This means that during most 24-hour days, you will see two periods of high tide and 2 periods of low tide. Put differently, this means that the water is rarely still because of the tides. The short windows, where the water is still, and the velocity of the tidal current is near zero, are referred to as a “stand.” During a “stand,” there’s no change in the height of the water. A “high water stand” occurs during the high tide time, and a “low water stand” occurs if it happens at low tide. It’s often referred to as the slack water stand. There are only 2 or 3 days each year when there isn’t some kind of a stand at either high or low tide.
It can be challenging to detect water movement when you are away from the shore or don’t have any stationary objects in the vicinity. One way to see water movement is around anchor lines that have been dropped. This gives you some sense of the direction and speed of the water movement (if any). Why do you need to know if water is moving or not when fishing? If an anchor line hangs slack, you should not expect to have many bites at all…
4 Things You Need to Know About Tides Before You Head Out to Fish
- What is the base point for the prediction of the tide?
- Where do you plan to fish relative to the base point?
- Wind and time of the year (when you travel abroad, the season for that geographic area might be different than where you hailed from)
- The water movement and time frame between the tide stand/slack water.
Plan your fishing days, times, and location on the data that predicts the best-expected conditions, and your fishing success rate will improve!
Tide stands at locations other than base points in a given area are determined by tide table adjustments. These adjustments can range from a few minutes to as many as 6 hours or more. The tide adjustment won’t mean much if you fish an area with an adjustment of minutes. But when you get into differentials beyond an hour or so, your fishing trip can be blown out the window.
After you note the tide for the base point, it’s also important to note the tide stands for the specific area you plan to fish. Based on this information, you could plan to leave the dock as much as an hour earlier or later. So, take note, and you can adjust your sleep the night before accordingly.
Incoming tides pushed by winds blowing from offshore will be higher at the base point and the adjustment points. So, for example, sustained winds of 6 hours or more that blow 15-18 mph winds from offshore can cause high tides to raise upwards of a foot over the predicted stand. But what goes up WILL come down.
Sustained high-velocity winds can cause a high tide to fall below its predicted high and cause a low tide to fall significantly lower than predicted. For example, when blustery northern winds occur in the winter months, water levels can drop 2-3’ below predictions in some bodies of water. If you find yourself in these conditions, the only place you have a chance of successful fishing is in deep “holes” (significant increases in depth within a small area).
Time of Year
The time of year plays a significant role in fishing tides. Tides can be dramatically different from one season to the next. Fishing inshore waters during the winter usually are best in deep holes. Couple your knowledge of the kind of weather along with the rising tide forecast, and you are likely to get in some excellent fishing!
Why do you need to know if water is moving or not when fishing? As shared, the worst fishing conditions occur when there’s no water movement at the slack stand between changing tides. Slack periods can literally range from minutes to hours in the exact location at different times of the year or under unusual weather conditions. If an anchor line hangs slack, you should not expect to have many bites, if any at all.
Even on days when the tide is slack, and there is no movement in tidal areas, you can almost always move in offshore waters. The reason is the wind. Even just the slightest wind yields movement in the water at the surface (not optimal for bottom fishing), so you can expect reasonably good surface fishing most of the year; in the winter months, the migratory fish will be gone in most areas. Consider fishing offshore banks or wrecks.
Tide Table Resources
An excellent resource for Tide Tables and fishing forecasts is TIDES 4 FISHING. This site covers the world and includes a wealth of up-to-date weather information that will be invaluable to you when planning your fishing trips: They also have a fantastic downloadable app for your phone.
- Water temperature
- High tides and low tides
- Solunar (rising & setting times of the moon)
- Solunar activity (you might see that the area “according to the solunar theory” is a good day for fishing, the fish activity forecast is high.”
- Astronomical observation
- UV Index/Exposure level
- Atmospheric pressure
- Fishing changes by pressure trend (i.e., rising, stable, falling)
- In the TIDES 4 FISHING HELP SECTION, you will find the keys to understanding the tides and solunar charts and their influence on fishing.
- And more
*IMPORTANT NOTE regarding the data provided on https://tides4fishing.com:
You can print the tidal table for personal use but not copy or distribute the data published on the website. The information is protected by copyright and is accessible only from tides4fishing.com. There is no API or Widget, and redistribution of tides4fishing is prohibited. Legal notice