Fishing the Tides

April 28, 2015 by  
Filed under General Fishing Tips

Estuary anglers must allow for the reversal every six hours of tidal flow, and alter their fishing spots accordingly. The most productive ends of reefs, structures, channels and gutters reverse with the tide. The sea entrance to an estuary is a good place to fish on a running tide, as fish passing from the estuary to the sea, or vice versa, must use this corridor.

fishing the tidesAs the tide falls, small fish, prawns and crabs leave the shelter of sand flats, weed areas and mangrove roots, and return to the channels, where the larger fish are waiting for them. A selected bait, cast into a channel at the right time, is likely to be grabbed by a fish expecting to feed. The main areas to fish at low tide are around structures, gutters and drop-offs, with the deepest holes carrying the best fish. Predatory fish such as flathead face the run of the tide, lurking around the edges of sandbars, gutters and channels waiting for smaller fish, prawns and food scraps to be drawn towards them.

At high tide the small fish, prawns and shellfish spread out, and the larger fish go after them and also the worms, crabs and other types of food that live around the flats and mangrove banks. This expands the range of fishing but makes it harder to pinpoint the spots where the fish are feeding. Structures, holes and gutters still exist and should remain the target.

Some fish break the rules and stay close to shelter behind structures and often close to overhanging banks or mangrove stands. Mangrove jacks, for example, has to be sought in these sheltered spots.

Tides has less effect in the middle of an estuary or bay as the movement of water is not so strong.

Make sure you have a current tide chart for your area. The chart times relate to certain major points such as a port or headland. Work out the time variation of high and low tides between the places you normally fish and those named on the chart, and plan your trips around the tides.

One strategy is to gather bait at low tide and begin to fish along the channel edges and drop-offs as the tide rises and the water floods out of the channels. Equally, you could time your fishing to just before high tide, and fish the edges of the channels and drop-offs as the water receded and the small creatures begin to be drawn back into the channels. In very shallow estuaries you must time your departure to avoid being left high and dry on a sandbank!

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