Get your fishing down to a science by studying tides and tables
In today’s world, time is money. It seems like most of us are always in a rush to be somewhere or accomplish some goal. We cram as much as we can into each day, and then scratch our heads wondering how we can get more out of our busy schedules.
Time spent on the water is no different. There are so many options to choose from and choices to make, especially when it comes to a location to target fish, or deciding which lure to throw. And because this time on the water is precious, it’s human nature to want to make the most of it. That’s why it’s important to try to put as many variables to your advantage as you can when the opportunity to wet a line occurs.
Have you ever gotten excited about a fishing trip, only to hit the water and work over your favorite honey holes with little or nothing to show for it? The truth is, it happens, and sometimes more often than not. Fish don’t always eat when we want them to. Chances are there were probably fish in the areas you chose to fish and they just didn’t care about eating while you were there. The issue may not have been a matter of location, but rather a timing thing.
I can attest to this firsthand, because we see this quite a bit while competing in redfish tournaments. Certain areas produce results under specific conditions. When I find a hotspot holding quality fish during practice, I take note of these variables and hope they repeat themselves at some point during my window of time to fish on game day. Sometimes it works. Other times, I’m left with making a decision of whether to keep casting in the same spot and waiting for the fish to finally feed, or leaving and hoping I find a different place that will produce.
Timing is everything when it comes to catching fish, whether you’re doing it competitively or recreationally. There are two tools all anglers can monitor to become more efficient with their time on the water. They include tide charts and solunar tables.
Tide charts forecast when peak high and low tides will occur, as well as how high or low the water levels will be during these periods. They also reveal about how strong the current will be moving as it’s flowing in or out.
Solunar tables display major and minor feeding times. These forecasted time windows predict when the best times fish will take place, in accordance with the moon phase, as well as the particular position the moon and sun are in during a given period of the day in reference to the Earth. For example, often some of the best times to fish, according to solunar tables, occur when the moon or sun is rising, and when the moon is positioned directly overhead or underfoot. It might sound complicated, but solunar tables make it pretty simple.
One of the best places to find tide charts and solunar tables for a particular location along the coast is tides4fishing.com. You can access tide charts and solunar tables for any date at just about any major fishing destination in Texas on this site.
From there, it’s all about finding the magic formula in which all of these variables align for the particular area that you’re fishing. For example, through trial and error, you might have found the fish tend to feed better in some locations during an incoming tide, while they prefer an outgoing tide in other areas. With this knowledge, you can choose an area to fish when the major or minor feed times also align with the optimal tidal conditions for certain hotspots. Then, it’s simply about being there, casting the right bait and hoping the fish are there, too. Being in the right place at the right time is key, and tide charts and solunar tables can help you get there.
Another detail anglers should keep in mind is fish tend to feed as tides and currents switch. Some of the best action I have ever experienced in my favorite fishing holes over the years has taken place as the current begins to slow down before switching directions. For whatever reason, the fish don’t always like to feed when the tide is ripping, especially in deep water. But when the current starts to subside, the bite typically picks up. The same can be true when the current begins to increase after a slack tide period.
Be aware of water levels, too. Certain areas tend to have cleaner water conditions when water levels are up. If this is the case, then you know it’s better to not waste your time fishing these spots when tide levels are below normal, as indicated on the tide chart.
As relaxing as the sport of fishing is, success occurs more often when some thought is put into it. When and where the fish are going to actively feed boils down to many variables. It’s a science, and the more you can learn about it, the more you’ll be able to put a bend in your rods.
Take a look at the tide charts and solunar tables before your next on-the-water outing. Start planning your trips in accordance with what looks to be optimal conditions after using these tools. If you haven’t been considering these variables, I guarantee you this approach will completely change the way you fish.
Becoming a more efficient angler can be pretty simple. Just remember, timing is everything.