How to Fish the Tides

Sergio Smirnoff

Hello, my name is Sergio Smirnof, and my goal with FishReeler is to provide a valuable resource for anglers of all levels, from beginners to experienced veterans. I hope that my passion for fishing and dedication to the sport shines through in the content I create and inspires others to get out on the water and catch some fish!

Typical Low Tide on the Ocean

Best Tides For Fishing

The age-old question: “When is the best time to fish?” every angler asks himself sooner or later. While we all know that the weather affects fish. Anyone who has held a fishing rod more than once in their life knows that there is more to come. How do you know when to go fishing?

Read on and find out! Experienced fishermen know that fishing is largely dependent on the current. If you want to be successful, you need to know more about tides.

Is Fishing Better at High Tide or Low Tide?

Both low and high tides are not what you want. During high and low tide, you won’t get what you want from fishing. It is best to try to fish in the middle periods. This is between floods or fall tides.

Important: my recommendations! Tides affect fish behavior. But there are no clear rules and patterns for all cases. For example, sometimes sea bass fish bites well on silicon bait in the lowest water (depth of 30 centimeters near the shore). But most often this fish hunts at night on the waning water after the maximum tide level. Each area has its own conditions. I suggest looking at the schedules on the official fishing websites every time. These charts are good enough to help anglers.

Best Fishing Times and Tides

Typical Recommendations For Anglers


Low or high tides refer to periodic vertical fluctuations in ocean level that occur once or twice a day. Low or high tide is the result of changes in the position of the Sun and Moon relative to the Earth and the effect of their gravitational forces on the ocean. Simply put, Moon, while rotating around the Earth, attracts water to herself, and thus tides pass.

The activity of the fish directly depends on the phases of the moon. Fish, of course, is not interested in astronomy, but it clearly follows its instincts. For example, at a full moon, plankton will rise to the upper layers of the water to feed on microorganisms. Accordingly, the fish rises behind it, feeds more actively, and therefore bites better.

Every 14 days, low or high tides happen twice a day. Everything in the underwater world starts to move faster. Ocean waters are saturated with oxygen to the maximum. This is the best time for fishing.

You can only get to the reef by yacht. A couple of crew members and 4-6 anglers will feel comfortable on the 40ft boat. At high tide, the ship runs from the ocean, and if the wave allows, you can approach the reef at 40-50 m.

What happens on the reef itself? The tidal wave, hitting him, freezes for a moment, then splits. The upper part of the wave moves further, and the lower one, twisting, goes down. Thus, a tunnel with calmer water is formed along the reef wall. It is there that all fish, both fodder and predatory, keep.

At low tide, everything happens exactly the opposite. Between high and low water, that is, between high and low tides, the ocean takes about an hour for the so-called respite. Everything freezes, fishing will be unsuccessful.


Temperature can either heat or cool things in the water. This is due to the sun. When the temperature is high, the stones in the water heat up perfectly and thus the shallow water heats up quickly enough when the tide retreats. This suggests that deep waters are warming up and the fish will bite more willingly.

It works in the opposite direction when the temperature is low. The stones do not heat up and thus are not able to heat the water during the tide retreat. At this time, the fish will be in warmer water, at a depth. The fish will not peck willingly as it will try to keep warm.

As you understand, fish live in shallow water only at a temperature that is comfortable for them. By the way, brightness also plays a key role in fishing. This is why the ideal time for fishing is a warm day in the shade.

You should be aware that air temperature does not necessarily reflect water temperature. For example, on a warm day after a snowfall, snow will melt and this will lead to a drop in temperature due to a large amount of cold meltwater and your chances of catching are minimized. On the other hand, a frosty day after a few warm days can unexpectedly give good results.


For fish living in river systems, the current can be their life force. It cools and oxygenates the water, it constantly brings them food, and the current forms their shelter, eroding the banks, causing sandbanks, and causing wood debris to fall into the river.

Since river fish are so dependent on the current, this is something anglers should consider if they plan to have any success in current fishing.

I recommend you fish with the current. Since fish do not want to spend their energy fighting the current, they usually do not fight it. It is best to fish near the edge of a weak current, as the fish is usually there, waiting for a quick meal.

Fishing Upstream

Since the current is what brings food to all species of fish in the river system, they always keep their nose upstream. Therefore, it is very important to fish in the current, casting upstream and so that the bait in the place with the current floats down the river. This creates a more natural situation and allows the fish to be less careful to grab your bait. If you fish upstream, your lure will simply slide behind the fish’s head from behind, resulting in much fewer bites.

Predatory fish such as perch and grayling can count on the current to bring food right into their mouth, but this does not mean that they want to constantly fight it. To save energy, they are most often hung in places called underwater pockets in the current. Current pockets are created from any object that is present in the river and blocks the flow of water. The edges of the sluggish vortex are very productive fishing spots for many species. Hanging in current pockets allows the predator to conserve energy and stay away from the current, but still be able to jump out in the current if probable prey is swimming by.

Downstream Fishing

Too many anglers focus on the slow current behind objects, assuming they will get the most bites. Unfortunately, this is not so. Sure, there may be some fish cruising around areas of weak current, but they are probably inactive, resting, and difficult to fool. Active feeding fish in river systems will always be on the edge or right in the stream because that is where the food is. Do not overlook areas just because they have a hard time in strong currents.

On the lake, if you do a few empty casts in the area, you will have some confidence that the fish are not there and are moving on. On a river system, this would be a huge mistake. Since the fish will dangle behind rocks or in cracks to stay out of the current, their bite areas are much smaller. For this reason, you may have to punch the bait through the area multiple times to get hit by the bait. A good rule of thumb is to fish in a strong current for twice as long as in a lake, especially if there are rocks.

Moon Phases


How the Sun and Moon Affect the Ebb and Flow

Many may think about what the moon has to do with it and why this information. Despite the fact that the influence of the phases of the moon on the biting of fish is not perceived by everyone as an important factor, such as, for example, pressure or wind, it should not be underestimated. The generally accepted fact is that all living organisms, including humans, are influenced by environmental conditions.

The best time to go fishing depends on the specific phases of the moon. Now there are several different versions of the influence of the phases of the moon on the biting of fish. Let’s consider the main ones:

  • According to the first version, it is believed that 90% of catches in a lifetime will occur during the full moon and new moon phases. The idea behind fishing by moon phases is that the higher the tide, the more active the fish is. The strongest tides occur twice a month: during the new moon and full moon. This version is most relevant for places, the ebb and flow are most pronounced, for example, on the coasts of the ocean.
  • The second version says that it is on the days of the new moon and full moon that the lowest fish activity is observed and, accordingly, its bite. An excellent time for fishing is considered to be the days of the young moon, which begin 3 days after the new moon and a few days a week before the new moon.
  • There is also a statement that fishing should be done only on the full moon at night. The theory here is that the light of the moon allows the fish to see better. After all, at the same time, how nice it is, on a clear, warm, and moonlit night, to stand with a spinning rod on the shore and fish without the help of an annoying lantern! You can try to catch the predator with surface lures, leading them along the moon path. The splash effect of the attacking fish is guaranteed to be delightful!

In my opinion and experience, it is best to fish on a full moon or new moon. During these events, lower low tides and higher high tides occur. And thus there are faster currents between the tides.

Effect of Еides on Аishing

Effect of Low Tide on Fish

This is an important question every fisherman should know the answer to. Let’s take a closer look at this point. low or high tides refer to periodic vertical fluctuations in ocean level that occur once or twice a day. low or high tides are the result of changes in the position of the Sun and Moon relative to the Earth and the effect of their gravitational forces on the ocean.

High Tide

High tide is the rise of water resulting from periodic fluctuations in the level of the World Ocean, caused by the forces of attraction of the Moon and the Sun together with the effects of the Earth’s rotation.

Important! I do not recommend fishing at the highest point at high tide. At this moment, there is no water movement. The water will be stagnant and the fish will be inactive. At this time, the fish does not need food.

Fishing Rising Tide

Coral Reef Fishing

The best time to fish is The rising or flooding tide. This is because the water is moving at this time. When the water starts to move, the fish starts to want to eat. Because the water moves differently, different baits will also give different results. The baits will be much closer to the shore with the rising tide.

Low Tide

Low Tide is also considered a bad time to fish. This is because the water does not move and the fish is inactive. However, if you do decide to fish at low tide, then I advise you to do it in deeper places. As a rule, there will be food for the fish and it will begin to rush to those places. If you manage to find a great spot, then your fishing will be effective in a short period.

Fishing Falling Tide

When the water level begins to fall, a falling tide occurs. Retreating, the water along with it begins to pull various insects, plants and so on that are attractive to fish. It is at this moment that you can cast your line and catch fish. This is the best time to fish because your bait will be carried into deep waters and attract fish.

Important Info on How to Fish the Tides

Typical Forecast For Several Days

I suggest you take a closer look at the tides in the oceans and rivers.


There are severe tides in the oceans. They can be measured in miles. While in rivers they have a difference in feet. This suggests that if you do not know about the tides in the ocean in advance, it can lead to unsuccessful fishing. You must be prepared.

You need to know what time the tides will be in the place where you are going. It is from the tides that the ingress of food depends on which the fish will be collected. However, many fishermen prefer to fish in the sea. There is a lot of fish in the sea and there is excellent deep-sea fishing.


Not everyone can share their experiences of fishing during high tides. However, I have a couple of stories. One of my best fishing trips was during a falling tide on the river. I was able to catch not only perch but also a lot of trout. This happened because my baits drifted to the middle of the depth of the river, and then I actively reeled them back. If you are a beginner fisherman, then I think the river is the best place to start.


What tides are best for fishing? I think almost every fisherman asked himself this question. Fishing largely depends on the movement of the water. In this article, I have tried to answer this frequently asked question. I hope you found the answer and now you know how to fish the tides.

Tags: #tides for fishing / #how to fish the tides / #important info on how to fish the tides / #best tides for fishing / #is fishing better at high tide or low tide / #best fishing times and tides / #how to read tides for fishing / #what tides are best for fishing

Sergio Smirnoff
Sergio Smirnoff
Professional fisherman with 40+ years of experience.
Fishing and the ocean is a passion of my life. I am passionate about all kinds of sea fishing: fishing from the shore (spinning, float, baitcasting), from a boat, and spearfishing day and night.

I live in Tenerife (Canary Islands) for the last 10+ years and share my daily fishing experiences on my website. Many years of personal experience as a fisherman and the vast experience of my friends allow me to write professionally on any fishing topics (from choosing a flashlight and equipment to deep-sea fishing).

All of my advice is based on practical real-world experience and will be useful to both novice anglers and professionals. Read more about the author.

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About the author: Each article is verified by the fishing expert Sergio Smirnoff. The articles are written by professional and amateur fishermen with 20+ years of fishing experience.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency. The articles are for informational purposes only, share your opinions in the comments and join the fishing discussions, let's share our fishing experiences together!

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3 months ago

Thank you for sharing your knowledge and expertise on the subject! I have always found that fishing during the incoming tide tends to be the most successful. To maximize my chances, I make sure to plan my fishing trips around the tides and aim to start fishing just as the tide is starting to come in or just as it is starting to go out. 

I find that fishing during these times when the tide has been moving for a while produces the best results. On the other hand, I have found that the least productive time for fishing is during dead low tide or slack tide. It is my personal opinion that these are the worst times to fish. I hope that this information is helpful to those who are looking to improve their fishing success.

3 months ago

Overall, this is a well written and informative guide for both beginner and experienced anglers looking to improve their tide fishing game. Fishing success is dependent on several factors, including the type of fish you are targeting, the barometer readings, and the water temperature.

From my personal experience, I have found that fishing in the inlet at the end of the incoming tide and the beginning of the outgoing tide, during a period of decreasing barometer readings in the fall, and with the presence of bait fish in the water, can be an ideal time to catch larger game fish. However, when pursuing sheepshead, I prefer to fish during the slack tides.

It is useful to keep a journal of your fishing activities, which should include the species you are targeting, the bait and tackle you are using, and the various conditions of the day, including any prior weather conditions that may have impacted the current water conditions. This will help you to keep track of what has worked well in the past and what conditions you need to be aware of in the future.

3 months ago

I especially appreciated the explanation of how different types of tides can affect fishing spots differently. The ideal time to go fishing depends on the specific location you are fishing in, as it takes time and experience to determine the best stage of the tide and the best time of the year for a particular place. However, the general belief is that the two hours before high tide and the two hours after high tide are typically the most productive.

Saltwater fishing can vary greatly depending on the type of fishing being done, such as boat fishing, open beach fishing, pier fishing, or inshore river/bay fishing. Each of these types of fishing will be impacted by the tide in its own unique way, and the presence of structure and current can play a significant role in determining where fish will be present.

In general, the outgoing tide tends to have the strongest current, and many saltwater fish orient themselves to take advantage of this current to ambush prey. Based on my personal experiences fishing in inshore bays, I have found that the outgoing tides tend to produce better results. 

Additionally, I have found that fish tend to be active and feed during the last hour of the outgoing tide and just a little bit into the dead low stage, particularly when fishing at the mouths of creeks flowing into saltwater rivers. On the other hand, incoming tides bring in cooler and cleaner water, which attracts the fish’s food sources, making them more likely to be present.

3 months ago

The tips on paying attention to the tide schedule and using the right gear for the current conditions are especially useful. According to my readings and observations, the last hour or two of the incoming tide and the first hour or two of the outgoing tide are generally considered to be the best times for fishing.

Some anglers have a preference for either outgoing or incoming tide, but I have not personally noticed a significant difference. The important factor is that the tide is moving, rather than its direction.

It is important to note that different fishing spots may perform better or worse depending on the stage of the tide. For example, at one of my favorite backwater spots, I have consistently noticed that fishing is more productive closer to low tide rather than high tide.

I am not sure why this is the case, but I have noticed that the fish seem to move elsewhere during high tide. This has happened so frequently that I no longer bother fishing at that spot during high tide.

3 months ago

Great article on tide fishing techniques! It’s helpful to understand how tides can impact fishing success. The ocean experiences two main tidal phases, high tide, and low tide, during which there is limited or no water movement. In between these two phases, we have the incoming and outgoing tides.

During incoming tide, water rushes into the shore, building up to the high tide. On the other hand, during the outgoing tide, water drains away from the shore until it reaches low tide.

Tide charts are used to track the time and height of high and low tides. The greater the difference in height between high and low tides, the quicker the water will move during the incoming or outgoing tides.

In general, fishing is considered to be most productive when there is movement in the water, either during the incoming or outgoing tides. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but moving water is usually better than still water in most fishing scenarios.

Prefisto Orunin
Prefisto Orunin
3 months ago

I apologize if this question has already been asked before. As a beginner in surf fishing, I am not completely certain about the ideal time to go fishing. There are several opinions floating around, with some people recommending fishing during the early morning or at dusk, as these are the times when fish are more likely to feed due to the cooler water temperature.

On the other hand, many anglers suggest fishing an hour or two before or after high tide. This is a popular belief among many experienced fishers. However, what if high tide happens to be at 2 PM, which is usually the hottest time of the day? Under such conditions, when would be the best time to go fishing? I would greatly appreciate your thoughts on this matter.

Graum Xubelle
Graum Xubelle
3 months ago

When it comes to determining the best time to fish based on tide, it ultimately depends on the location you are fishing in. However, it is commonly observed that the hours near slack tide, which occurs in the middle of the roughly six-hour window between high tide and low tide, tend to be the most productive.

As for the time of day, there is no strict rule, as fish can be caught at any time. However, some anglers believe that fishing at dusk and dawn may increase your chances of success, as this is when some species of fish are more active. In addition, for surf fishing on public beaches, early morning or around sunset can be a preferred option to avoid the crowds of beach-goers. Ultimately, the best time to fish is when you have the opportunity to do so.

Aazolrian Mzanga
Aazolrian Mzanga
3 months ago

I am fortunate enough to say that I have not experienced any unpleasant encounters with joggers while fishing. However, I have had some incidents with individuals in the water. When I am fishing, 

I prefer to stay away from areas designated for swimming, but even then, people still seem to find a way to interfere with my fishing lines. This includes swimmers bumping into my line and getting frightened or parents becoming hostile because their children are swimming towards my line and attempting to find my bait in the water.

Considering the presence of people is a major factor in determining the best time for me to go fishing. I always make an effort to set up my fishing equipment well away from areas supervised by lifeguards to ensure that my lines are not disturbed. Nevertheless, people still seem to find ways to cause problems.

Cyramus Nzora
Cyramus Nzora
3 months ago

The time of day is the most significant factor for me in terms of fishing. Although the tide levels do play a role in determining where and how I will be fishing, the timing of my fishing trip is the more important aspect to consider. If the water is too far out to be fishable during the time I want to go, then I will have to take that into consideration, but for the most part, time is the bigger factor.

Frostal Tranpod
Frostal Tranpod
3 months ago

As a beginner in fishing, it’s important to keep in mind that the best time to go fishing is typically two hours before and after high tide. Arriving at the beach during low tide can also be beneficial, as it allows you to survey the area and understand the structure of the beach, such as identifying bars, troughs, holes, cuts, etc. 

Incoming tides can disturb the sand and release food sources like worms, crabs, and other invertebrates, leading to an increased likelihood of biting.

It’s worth noting that there are no set rules in fishing, and the best way to improve is to learn how to read the water and gain experience. To get started, consider finding resources online, such as watching videos on YouTube channels that may provide helpful tips and insights.

Quistero Draqus
Quistero Draqus
3 months ago

As a general rule, it is recommended to start fishing two hours before high tide and continue for an hour after high tide. However, there are several additional factors that can impact fishing success. To gain insight into what works best for you, it may be helpful to log various conditions each time you go fishing, such as the height of the tide, the time of day, barometric pressure, weather conditions such as wind and rain, the cycle of the moon, and other minor details.

Based on personal experience, some of the best days for fishing may occur when high tide hits around 10 AM and the full moon has either passed or is about to occur. This allows for early fishing starting at 8 AM and the potential for a successful bite as the bigger fish may be more likely to be active.

It’s also important to note that fish can be active during both rising and falling tides, particularly during times of changing tides. Optimal conditions include rising tides along with favorable weather, where the swell or waves are not too intense but still create enough movement to stir up potential food sources.

For further information and tips, consider visiting Bill Varney’s website. He is a legendary shore fisherman in Southern California and has written a valuable book on the subject. His weekly fish report also includes information for your specific area.

Qu Pulixa
Qu Pulixa
3 months ago

In my personal opinion, there tends to be more activity during the early morning hours and towards dusk. Checking the barometric pressure is also a key factor to consider when fishing. I believe it’s best to go fishing every day, even if it’s just for a short period of time, such as 30 minutes. 

Observing the sunset can also be a peaceful and enjoyable experience. I recall one memorable experience where I caught my largest fish after dropping off my son at school one morning. I went straight to a nearby pond and on my first cast, I caught an 8-pound bass at 8 AM.