High & Low Tides for Fishing- Learn the Fisherman’s Secret to Catching More Fish

Kristian Ole



Here is the secret- A fisherman focused on catching more fish never forgets to monitor the tides for fishing. This one step can have a huge impact on your fishing experience.

So, here is your ultimate guide to master reading low and high tides for fishing.

Rookie Mistake…

When checking off the list of things needed for fishing, many anglers forget to look at the tides chart. This is a huge mistake.

If you do not go in the right tidal stage, you will not get anything out of fishing. Knowing the intricacies of tidal stages and tidal maps can make the difference between a successful catch and just having a boat ride.

The solution…

Always monitor tides by reading a tides chart. You must especially focus on what time the high tide is.

In this guide, I will also share a high tide chart that will help you look for low tides near me. You can use tide charts for the country or for a specific region. For instance, the Charleston tide chart can help you locate which places have high and low tides in Charleston. And, a tide chart like this can help you find tides in any state of the United States.

Tides map from Noaa.gov

Related article: Fishing near me

So, let’s get started…

What Are Tides for Fishing?

Tides are long-period waves in the water that are exerted by the sun and moon. They disrupt the flow of water. But the good thing is that tides are quite reliable. If you like the sport of fishing, you must know how to read a tide chart.

Reading the tide chart is a must-have skill for everyone who loves fishing. It is very helpful in understanding tides for fishing.

When the crest of a tide (the highest point) reaches a spot, a high tide occurs; and when a trough reaches a particular location, it is a low tide. The difference between the heights of a low and high tide is known as the tidal range.

There are three tidal timings in the world. If you get about two equal high tides and two low tides, it means that it is a semi-diurnal tide. If you get two uneven tides during the day (one was low, the other one was high), it means that you are experiencing a mixed tide.

A diurnal tide is one in which there is only one high and one low tide each day. This is mostly in coastal regions.

What Causes High Tides?

Now that you know what tides for fishing are, you must be wondering what causes high and low tides. Gravity is one of the major forces that cause tides. Basically, tidal forces are based on gravitational attractive forces.

Without going into all the science of it, you should understand that the sun’s tidal forces are about half that of the moon. Also, the moon is the dominant force that affects the Earth’s tides.

Why Do Fishermen Need Tide Charts?

Why Do Fishermen Need Tide Charts? Tides for fishing

Tides can shift the currents of water in a short period of time. This means that they can quickly change the accessibility and depth of a waterbody. Furthermore, tides can also create strong currents that pose a danger for fishermen. If you know how to read a tide chart, you will be able to plan for tides beforehand.

Tides can generate a surf. When the tides are high, they may produce waves that break on the shore. On the other hand, when tides are low, they may drain water from the line-up.

Although there are quite a few factors that affect tidal movements, the best thing about them is that they are predictable at specific locations.

Key Concepts About Tides

Fishing is a fun sport but it doesn’t hurt to know some basic science of fishing. If you understand these basic concepts well, you will be able to make the most out of your fishing trip.

  • Tides: As discussed earlier, a tide is a change in the water level caused by the Moon, Sun, and Earth’s gravitational forces. Basically, tides affect how and when the fish will move. Therefore, it is important to read the tide chart and understand it.
  • High Tides: A high tide refers to the highest point of the water level.
  • Low Tides: A low tide refers to the lowest point of the water level.
  • Tidal Period: This is the length of time between successive high or low tides. The tides usually have a fundamental period of 24 hours and 50 minutes or 12 hours and 25 minutes.
  • Falling tides: A falling tide means that the water level is going down.
  • Rising tides: A rising tide means that the water level is moving up.
  • Slack Water: This is a short period of time when the water is not flowing and the tide has stopped.

How Can Tides Affect Fishing?

The tides are related to the sea’s water depth. It will determine the types of fish available as well as their abundance. Furthermore, tides determine what type of fishes will be available in the area. For example, during a high tide, when the water level is high, you will find a greater number of fish in the area.

Basically, tides play a very important role in fishing. They determine what kind of fish you will catch. Tides will help you decide which fish group you will find, where the fish eat, and what is the right time to catch them. Therefore, if you have enough knowledge about tides, you can use it to your advantage and make your fishing more fruitful (or fishful!)

When the tide current sweeps marine animals as well as plants with it, the fish also gather for food. This is why you will find more fish where there is a tide.

Facts About Tides

Fishing is Better When The Tide is Running

The tide is what actually decides what kind of fish you will catch. It provides for the food of fish. As a rule of thumb, always remember that fishing is better when there is a tide running. This is during the middle period of the tide, rather than the high or low levels.

Also, snappers and many other types of fish bite more when the water is flowing. The biting will stop when the tide is low or high. Thus, it is always better to go fishing when the tides are running.

Do Not Fight the Current

Another essential fact that you should keep in mind is that do not fight the water’s natural current. When fish are swimming, they tend to swim with the current, rather than against it because they want to conserve energy.

Ambush Points

When you are fishing during low tides, you should look for spots that can trap bait. If you find the right areas for the bait, you will be able to catch a bunch of fish at once.

In the case when the tides are quite light, you should focus on curs between islands or underwater weed beds with potholes mixed in. Also, if you do not find fish quickly in these areas, it is a good idea to move to another spot rather than waiting around for a miracle to happen.

Tides Are Strong on The Shallow Side

The tides tend to be stronger on the shallow sides of the water. The fish will quickly move to the shallow side of the water when the tide is high. When the tide goes out, the fish will go back to the deep side.

What Are the Best Tides for Fishing?

What Are the Best Tides for Fishing?

As mentioned earlier, you should always go fishing during a moving tide. Furthermore, it is not that hard to determine what the best time is. If you focus on the spots of crustaceans and baitfish, you will also get lucky with fishing.

Outgoing Tides

When you are fishing on outgoing tides (or falling tides), the bait will be carried into the channels and creeks. At such a time, it is a good idea to focus on the mouth of the estuary. This is because the game fish will be waiting at the mouth of the estuary to eat the baitfish or crustaceans that they carried along with the current.

Furthermore, you can also go for other inshore areas on dock pilings or other structures where you will find predatory game fish during an outgoing tide. They are a good place for the fish to catch their prey as it is carried out of the tide.

Incoming Tides

As the tide is flowing in, the fish will move to an estuary area. A rising or incoming tide is one of the best times to go fishing. When the water enters the estuary area from the ocean, it will be colder with more oxygen as compared to the water in the estuary during slack periods or low tides.

As the tide rises and water flows on saltwater flats, the fish start to look for food in these spots. If you focus on these tidal flats, you could find an incoming tide. If you want to try on an incoming tide, fish the deeper water beyond the edge of the flat.

Slack Water

As I mentioned earlier, the best time to go fishing is when there is a moving tide. You should generally avoid times when water is slack. This is because when the water is slack, there is no flow of water from incoming tides.

This does not mean that it is virtually impossible to catch fish when the water is slack. It is challenging and you will need some luck for it. This is because when there is no movement in the water, the bait activity quickly decreases and the fish don’t feed.

When the water is slack, you can take the time to rig your line, organize your tackle, cook the fish you caught before, eat, and just look around to appreciate the beauty of Nature.

How To Decide The Fishing Position Using The Tides?

When you are fishing at anchor, it is important to determine where the fish will be according to the tide. This is important to be successful in fishing.

The easiest way to find concentrations of fish and bait is to use your fish finder. If you need help with your fish finder, you can check out our guides here.

With a fish finder, you will be able to determine the side where the fish are. You can position your fishing boat according to that. Another quick tip is to move your boat to locate the fish.

You should also keep an eye on the tides for fishing when you are fishing on any spot. This will help you determine a pattern in fishing for the future. With enough practice, you will be able to discover many new spots for fishing.

Other Factors To Consider When Fishing

Now that you know about everything related to high and low tides, the best time to fish, why tides are important, etc., let’s talk about some other basic factors that you should keep in mind when you are fishing.


The location is the primary factor that you need to think about before you go fishing. Make sure that you do your homework about the fish, its variety, and habits before you go to the spot.

For instance, now that you know that shallow sides are a good location for fishing during a high tide, you can decide your location accordingly.

Phases of The Moon

As we discussed earlier, the tides in water are controlled by the moon. So, it is not a bad idea to have a look at the moon phases that offer better fishing conditions. As a rule of thumb, new and full moons give lower low tides, higher high tides, and faster current between the tides.

Keeping all of this in mind, you can go fishing according to the moon’s phase cycle which takes about 29.53 days to complete.


I hope that you enjoyed learning about tides for fishing. Knowing what time the high tide or low tide, can be a great skill for everyone who wants to catch fish. This knowledge is also usefull for when you go kayaking.

I hope this guide will help you learn everything about it.

Good luck fishing!


About Kristian Ole

Kristian Ole Rørbye, a marine biologist and seasoned angler, shares his fishing adventures and expertise on FishingKris. Join him as he explores the world's waters, one cast at a time.

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