How Low Tides Affect Fishing? [vs High Tide]

Is it Worth Fishing at Low Tide

Water movement has a great influence on fish behavior and your fishing success. From currents and waves to tides, all of that will make or break your experience.

Tides are daily occurrences around the world, but their level can significantly vary. In addition to that, moon phases will also influence the intensity of tides.

So, how do tides influence fishing and is it worth fishing at low tide?

Fishing at low tide is not the best time for fishing, but that doesn’t mean that catching a fish is completely impossible. If you have the opportunity to choose the time of fishing, I wouldn’t advise you to go during low tide, but if that is the only time you can go, there are certain ways to make the experience worth the effort.

Tides are predictable occurrences and anyone can access information about tides in their local waters. That is an important factor that every angler should consider.

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How Exactly Tides Affect Fishing and Fishing Activity?

Explaining is it worth fishing at low tide can be done by explaining how exactly tides influence fish behavior.

Stagnant waters, like low or high tides, will make fish stay calm and uninterested for feeding. The reason is that nutrients and small baitfish are also stagnant.

When the water is moving, and tidal changes occur, like rising or falling tides, water fill carry around nutrients and the small baitfish will follow. With that movement, predators will also become active and prey on small fish. Actually, even larger, non-predatory species will take advantage of this situation.

So, fish activity is triggered by moving tides, and that means that rising and falling tides are the best for fish activity and for you to present your baits and lures.

Is it Worth Fishing at Low Tide - Infographic

Fishing During Falling vs Rising Tides? [Inshore Fishing and Offshore]

The optimal time for inshore fishing is generally during a rising tide!

With the incoming tide, nutrients are swept closer to the shoreline and into estuaries, as well as into river regions near their confluence with the ocean.

This natural phenomenon leads to a greater concentration of baitfish, which in turn attracts predatory fish closer to the shore where the deepening water creates ideal conditions for feeding.

An interesting fact about the influence of tides on rivers is that some rivers can feel the effects of tides up to an astonishing 1000 kilometers from their estuaries, with the Amazon River being a prime example. However, it's worth noting that most rivers experience tidal influences only in areas near their mouths.

While a rising tide is advantageous for inshore fishing, a falling tide shouldn't be overlooked, particularly within estuaries. As the tide ebbs away from the land, it pulls water and smaller fish out of the estuary. This exodus of prey items can trigger a feeding frenzy among predatory species waiting to capitalize on the outgoing tide, making it an opportune time for anglers to cast their lines.

For offshore fishing, the best tide can vary depending on the targeted species and local conditions, but generally, a stable high tide or the period shortly before and after a high tide can be fruitful. During these times, the movement of water around structure and over reefs can activate fish and present more opportunities for anglers in deeper waters.

So, both rising and falling tides can enhance fishing prospects, but the rising tide is often slightly more favorable for inshore fishing. Offshore anglers should pay attention to the high tide periods for potential increases in fish activity.

TIDE Fish activity Good for ...
LOW (stagnant) Fish stay calm and uninterested for feeding. Stay at home
HIGH (stagnant) Fish stay calm and uninterested for feeding. Offshore fishing
RISING (moving) Fish activity is best / triggered by moving tides. Inshore fishing
FALLING (moving) Fish activity is good / triggered by moving tides. Within estuaries

Fishing During Low vs High Tide [When the Movement Stops]

Best fishing tides were described in the previous chapter, but what about low and high, when the water movement stops?

Both times are a bit slow and fish activity stops. When the tide is high, water will be deeper and fish may be in the area you are fishing in, even very close to the shore. But locating, and making the fish interested in your bait may be hard.

Low tides are characterized by shallow water and fish that moved away from the shore. This can be a nightmare for fishing, depending on your location and specific conditions. However, during low tides, fish will be present in deeper holes and areas where the water remained deep enough.

Actually, these places may be full of fish. If you are able to find a spot like that and present your bait, there is a high chance that you will get a bite. Just keep in mind to avoid shallow areas and make your presentations slower to match the activity of calm fish.

Both times are equally good (or bad) and which one will be better for you depends on your specific location, waters, fish species, and the amplitude of tides.

Is it Worth Fishing at Low Tide - Best Tides

Main Benefits of Fishing at Low Tide

Some downsides may actually be turned into your advantage if you know what you are doing when fishing in low tides.

Here are the best ones!

  • Pools of fish – when the water goes away, some deeper pools may hold a high number of fish that are left there without an escape route to the ocean. If you can locate such places, you are in for an adventure!

  • Accessibility – although low tides bring some dangers, and I will mention those later, these conditions allow anglers to access places otherwise too far from the shore.

  • Lower visibility – low tide, especially on windy days, can cause water to become murky. That is excellent for hiding your otherwise visible fishing lines and equipment that may scare off the fish.

  • Too deep becomes the perfect depth – some places may be to deep when the tide is high, and at those times you won`t find fish there. When the tide is low, fish will migrate into those areas that now become perfect fishing spots!

Is it Worth Fishing at Low Tide - Rocks

Best Lures and Baits to Use During Low Tide

Now when you know that you can fish at low tide, lets see what baits to use!

As already mentioned, fish do not bite at this time as aggressively as they do in high tide. Go for smaller baits and lures, and slower presentations. Fish that are not too interested in feeding wont use their energy to chase a demanding prey, however they may bite a convenient that doesn’t require a lot of effort one if presented right.

From smaller shrimp or baitfish, to artificial imitations of those, everything will work, but only if you downsize and slow down the presentation.

Retrieve steadily and slowly and use finesse baits to increase your chance of success.

It also depends on the water depth at low tide. In shallower pools, where it may be very tricky to catch a fish, you cant try with topwaters or jiggs, while in deeper holes natural bait can work excellent!

Types of Fish You Can Catch During Low Tide

Now you have the bait, but who will bite it?

Here are the most common fish species that can be caught at low tide:

• Redfish
• Tarpon
• Snook
• Goliath grouper
• Trout
• Flounder
• Bluefish
• Ladyfish

Some of those like tarpon may be located further from the shore and are ideal for those with a boat, while species like ladyfish can be found in deeper holes that now have limited access to the open water due to low tide.

Of course, what other species you will be able to catch depends on locally available species in your area.

Is it Worth Fishing at Low Tide - Saltwater

How to Prepare for Low Tide Fishing?

I already mentioned that you need to check local tidal info to see when the tides are low. I will mention some excellent apps in the following chapter.

And beside that, here are 5 more things to do:

  • Check the weather forecast – some weather conditions are better than others, and fishing is usually the best before a storm or in low light conditions!

  • Prepare suitable baits – as already mentioned, downsize and slow down!

  • Inform yourself about dangers – every place has different tides and dangers that may lurk. I will mention the most important ones in the end, however it is your responsibility to learn everything there is about the place you are going to fish at!

  • Use the wind – while boat fishing, fish down the wind, not in the opposite direction. Wind will stir up the water and conceal your line.

  • Consider the time of year and temperatures – sometimes, when fish are slow and lazy, as in mid-summer or winter, you won’t have success no matter what you do. That is honest truth, and if it’s not working, don’t stress out and try another day!

Is it Worth Fishing at Low Tide - Boat

Safety Fishing Tips for Low Tide Fishing [and Potential Dangers]

Before you check tides and go on the water, here are a few safety fishing tips about avoiding potential dangers you could encounter.

But firstly, I have to tell you that not all places are dangerous at low tide. In some seas and estuaries there are no dangerous tidal waves or stranded poisonous water organisms. One of such locations is the Mediterranean.

However, in some other places, it can be much worse. But you know how they say, “high risk high reward”!

Low tide allows you position yourself at places that are under water during high tides.

Here are the possible dangers and tips how to avoid them:

  • Tidal Waves – tidal waves may seem small but they are extremely strong. Those are not surface waves and the whole body of water is receding away from the shore, towards the deep water. The bigger the time span between those waves is, the higher the danger. Avoid walking through such water, or even fishing from a small underpowered boat, especially if you are not familiar with such conditions.

  • Stranded poisonous organisms – at low tide, some fish and other marine life may end up stranded in the small pools of water. Be careful not to touch them or walk with unprotected feet through such places, especially if you don’t know local species.

  • Speed of incoming high tide – you may be enjoying your fishing day at low tide, however in some places high tides can come swiftly and aggressively. Do not wander too far out at low tide and stay close to escape routes.

  • Rocks, holes, mud, and dangerous terrain – low tide will uncover some bottom parts that may be very dangerous and navigating over them on foot. Injures and falls are highly possible, so be careful!

Is it Worth Fishing at Low Tide - Wave

Conclusion

Is it worth fishing at low tide depends on your abilities and a specific situation. It is true that fishing at low tides is not the best time for fishing, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go fishing at all.

With a bit of experience, and even luck, you still have a chance to catch a fish. Low tides will enable you to see the bottom better and to find a perfect place to present your bait.

But, if you are able to choose your fishing time, go during rising tides. Extremes, both low and high, are just not optimal.

About Me

Slo-fishing - About Us

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I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind Slo-fishing.si and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

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