The Best Tides For Surf Fishing

You are a surf anglers… Have you ever asked yourself why some anglers always find themselves at the right place at the right time? And they catch lots of fish? Here’s what you need to know about the best tides for surf fishing and how to catch success whenever you want to fish , and answer the question: “what tide is best for surf fishing ?”.


Surf Fishing

Surf fishing is a method of catching fish by standing on the shoreline or wading in the surf. The majority of surf fishing is done in saltwater and surf anglers usually use live baits and artificial lures to catch fish. Surf anglers need to be cautious of waves and undertows as they can be dangerous, causing severe injury or even death. For instance, if you plan to wear waders, make sure to wear a wader belt to avoid water filling up in case you slip underwater.

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Why Tide Matters

Having a thorough knowledge of tides and their effects on fishing pays big returns. Fishing guides have done a close study of tides and understand their influence on fishing in their localities.

On the other hand, casual anglers who pay little attention to tides and currents wonder why they can’t catch lots of fish. They often waste a lot of time casting or trolling in the wrong tide. Yet, the ideal surf angler knows tides can create the favorable fishing times in advance and concentrates his efforts in such periods. This means less wasted hours and more fish on the shore.

Science Behind Tides

Tides are basically caused by the gravitational forces of both the sun and the moon. The moon has the greater influence on earth’s waters as it’s nearer our planet than the sun.

The highest tides occur when the sun and the moon are on the same side of the earth in a straight line. Also known as spring tides, they usually happen during the full moon and the new moon seasons. During this time, the tides tend to be both higher and lower than normal in a particular area. Tides do not rise or fall as much during the first quarter or the last quarter phases of the moon.

When the tide rises, water moves towards the land, therefore, known as the flood tide. When it falls and moves back to the ocean, it’s referred to as the ebb tide. When the tide is not moving either way, it’s called the slack tide. There are usually no currents at this time.

The movement of the tide from low to high and vice versa happens at different times of the day. That’s why you need to master the tide and its effect on surf fishing. The tide takes approximately 6 hours to rise from low to high and 6 hours to descend. Within every 24 hours, the tide occurs around 50 minutes later. In any case, tides are published in many surf fishing spots to guide you.

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What Tide is Best for Surf Fishing

Tides are important to all saltwater anglers, but the surf fishermen study them intensely than most other groups of anglers.

The most productive period for surf fishing is the start of an incoming tide. This is the perfect time to catch the gamesters such as bluefish, bass (striped and channel bass), and weakfish. With no strong currents, small baitfish often scatters during this period and they can swim fast while escaping the larger fish. Once the tide starts to move, the small baitfish relies on the strong currents and rips to avoid the predator fish. But, the game fish finds them easier to catch at such times.

Generally, larger tides prompt more fish into feeding. This is because the stronger currents scour food from the seabed and the higher tides that flood the beaches and rocks drags sources of food into the sea. Higher tides are also when other sea creatures mate and give birth hence there’s usually a lot of planktonic food for game fish. This is the perfect time you should be down at the beach casting. The start of an outgoing tide also has the same effect.

Daylight also influences fishing in the tide. The larger predators usually hunt closer to the surface as night approaches. So, a spring tide in the late evening or early morning would be a great option to get off the mark. Daytime can be better for sight feeders or with a new moon. Night surf fishing also pays well with a full moon.


Surf fishing can only be rewarding if you know the tricks. Tides play a major role and it’s up to you to understand their occurrence in your area. If you want to increase your chances of catching fish from the sea, cast when the fish are hunting on the mark. The rule of thumb is to fish the last hour of a rising tide and the first two hours of an outgoing tide. Remember to confirm your local tide tables and hopefully you catch all the fish.


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