How tides work and the affect they have on fishing
If you'v ever been around a group of fisherman, in a tackle shop, or out on the water listening to the radio, then you'v probably heard talk about tides. You probably already know that the tide has an effect on fishing conditions, but are maybe unsure of how exactly they work, or why they effect the fishing.First before we get into how the tides tamper with your fishing success, we need to understand how they work and what causes them.
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First of all "Tide" is the term we use relative to the rising and lowering of the water level in a given body of water. Do not confuse this with current. When discussing tides, we are talking about the waters vertical movement, when discussing currents we are talking about the waters lateral movement. The current is another important factor that affects fishing. Both the tide and current propagate each other which lead to many different situations in the water. I will cover currents in a later article, but for now, so we don't rat nest your brain, we will be speaking mainly on tides.
You may have noticed the last time you we're in a harbor, or at a beach that the water line was a few feet lower than the wet sand or rocks. Thats because the tide is now in a different position than it was a few hours earlier. The tide is caused by the gravitational pull by both the sun and the moon on the earths surface during the earths rotation. This occurrence causes a bulge on the surface of the earth where there is water. Which means not just oceans, but lakes, rivers, and streams. However the smaller the surface area of the water the smaller the effect, so don't expect to see any anomalies in your pool or bath tub. This bulge in the water follows the moon or sun as it passes overhead. Being that the moon is so much closer to earth than the sun, it's influence on the water is roughly twice that of the suns.Because of centrifugal force, there is a corresponding bulge on the opposite side of the earth.
In a nut she'll that is what causes the changing of the tide, but there are different types of tides. For instructional purposes, let's begin at low tide. We use the term "slack tide" when referring to absolute low tide and absolute high tide. The reason we call this slack tide is because at that moment in time the tide is neither outgoing nor incoming, it is still, or slacked. From our Low tide, or slack tide, we get an incoming tide, which leads to high tide, or again, slack tide. From there the tide is outgoing bringing us back to low tide. The length of each incoming and outgoing tide will vary depending on location, time of year, topography, and climate.Throughout the day there can be anywhere from two to even sixtidal changes, depending on the day in the cycle. Areas which experience only two tidal changes, for instance one high tide and one low tide, are what we refer to as "diurnal tides". In such areas, the tidal rise and fall are much greater. Areas which do experience multiple highs and multiple lows are referred to as "semidiurnal".
Now that you have a rough outline of tidal nature, we're going to talk about spring tide. Spring tide is what happens when the sun, moon, and earth aline. Earlier I told you that the moon has the greater influence over the tide than the sun does. If we say that the moons gravitational pull on the earths surface is 100%, then the gravitational pull of the sun is close to 46%. So when the sun, moon and earth are all inline, our two figures are added together to give us 146%. This is the case whether the moon is on the far side of the alignment, or between the sun and the earth, or, during a full or new moon. As you may assume at this point, this means we experience extremely high high tides, and extremely low low tides. this period is called spring tide.
Neap tides work opposite of a spring tide. A neap tide is when the sun, moon and earth form a right angle. when this happens the moons gravitational pull is weakened by the pull of the sun, and vice versa. Using the same figures we used to explain spring tides, the moon is no only pulling at 54% normal capacity than it normally would. Because of this we will see much lower high tides, and much higher low tides. In other words, the tidal changes are much more subtle.
Now let's talk about tide tables
Above is an example of a tidal chart, or a tide table.. Tidal charts are very useful for determining what the water is doing at a given time. It shows you what time high tide will be, what time low tide will be, whether the tide is outgoing, or incoming, and the duration of each event. As I previously explained the tidal, position is going to be different depending on where you are in the world, so a tidal chart is only useful for one location. Today there are hundreds of sources for tidal information and charts. Most notably, free apps for your smart phone. so finding out when your next high or low tide will be is now easier than ever before.
Fishing the tides
Now that we've talked briefly on tides and how they work, let's get into how it affects our fishing. But before we do, it's very important to note that the tide does not have the same effect on all fish. Like all things, it is never just black or white. So while you might experience great fishing for a given species during the latter half of an incoming tide, you might experience poor success in a separate fishery. So keep in mind that this segment is meant to be a broad explanation with various examples of the tides effect.
Maybe you'v noticed while out on the water after a few hours or so of slow fishing, a sudden flurry of fish in a feeding frenzy. With a few exceptions, this is typically tide related. Fish are extremely well tuned to the waters present state and the second there is any change in that state the fish reacts to it. There are multiple reasons that fish behave differently during tidal events, and it is most commonly based on the species of fish. When fishing inshore, fish occupying the rocks, and other reef structures tend to face into the current to maintain their position and accept food carried right to them by that current. In these situations the latter half of the incoming tide will be quite productive, as the current will be stronger and they will be more active trying not to miss any possible meals.
For fish that feed on smaller bait fish, found in shallow water, the surf, and even many pelagic species, you will notice multiple bight windows. To explain this I need you to picture a school of bait fish, or what we call a "bait ball". These bait fish are small in size and struggle much more to fight the current than their predators. Their natural response to fighting a strong current, which leaves them vulnerable to larger fish, is to group together into said bait balls. The stronger the current, the tighter they will group together. In turn the larger predator fish have less ground to cover while in pursuit with their food source being so concentrated. So in response to this event, the larger fish will be making more frequent and aggressive passes through the schooling fish picking them off one by one. The current becomes increasingly stronger the closer it gets to each high tide and each low tide, So if you observe a bait ball throughout the tides stages, you will see that they become more and more condensed as the tide gets closer to each slack period. When the tide reaches it's slack period, the current is slowed or stopped completely and the bait fish no longer have an imposing force to battle against, rendering them much more maneuverable causing them to scatter and evade capture by predators. The larger fish know this and will commit very little to no effort in pursuing the bait, knowing that in a short matter of time the current will pick up again and their prey will once again be forced into a tight group causing vulnerability.
There are other behavioral differences we see in separate species targeted by fisherman. For example, many bottom dwelling fish use ambush tactics to target their prey. For many of those fish they are most active during the slower periods of the tide and even a slack tide. This is most common with shallow water species. During the beginning of an outgoing tide for instance, many small bait fish and crustaceans will seek out holes, pockets, channels, canals, or a structure to hide behind. The ambushing predators know this and lye in wait for it's next victim to approach. During the slacked tide, in canals and channels especially, the current has weekend giving any small baits like shrimps, crabs, lobster, small fish etc, less of a defense against their predators. And that is when the larger fish seizes the opportunity to pounce.
So in summation we've covered the tides, what causes them, a brief knowledge of their nature, and how they affect our fishing conditions. Although there is much more to understand in predictable fishing, this should give you a boost in the right direction. I would urge you not to generalize this information and try to apply it to all game fish, as there are many behavioral differences in marine life which correspond with the tide. This information better serves as a foundational understanding of how fish react to tidal differences. Your next step should be to learn your prey. Decide what it is you'll be chasing on your next trip and learn as much as you can about that species. Luck is for the birds, the more you know, the more you'll catch.
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Posted in Home Improvement Post Date 07/05/2017