What Are Tides and How Do They Affect Fishing?

Cocoa Beach charters and other experienced anglers closely watch tides to determine the ideal time for fishing inshore waters


The tides are an amazing phenomena – each day, water levels close to the coast will rise and fall with the same predictability as the sunrise and sunset. While this process is well-known, many fishermen do not factor it in when planning their trips.

Experienced anglers and fishing charters though will closely study the tides around Cocoa Beach and the Indian River Lagoon since this can oftentimes mean the difference between a good trip and a mediocre one.

Before getting into the specifics of how the tides can affect fishing, we must first understand what the tides are.

Tides around Cocoa Beach and throughout the world are in fact long-period waves caused by gravitational attraction between the sun and moon

This theory was first explained by Sir Isaac Newton in 1687. The force between the sun and moon exerts pressure on water molecules in the ocean and creates subtle currents.

When the highest part of this wave reaches the shore and moves into bays and estuaries, water levels along the coast rise. When these water levels reach their maximum height, you’ve reached high tide. This “incoming” tide is known as the “flood current.”

Once this peak has been reached, the wave will move back out into the ocean. As it recedes, water levels will drop and some areas will actually not have any water at all after a few hours. Once you’ve reached the trough or the lowest part of the wave, you’ve hit low tide. The outgoing tide is also referred to as the “ebb current.”

It takes approximately 6 hours for a tide to go from high to low or low to high. Each day, the particular high or low tide occurs around 50 minutes later than it did the previous day.

Not all tides are created equal though…some tides will be stronger than others depending on the current lunar phase.

During each full and new moon phase for example, the moon and sun align, which increases the gravitational force on the waves and therefore the intensity of the tide. This is known as a “spring” tide.

A “neap” tide on the other hand occurs during the waxing and waning moon phases and reduces the tide’s intensity.

And although the sun is 27 million times BIGGER than the moon, its gravitational force is only about half of what the moon’s is. The reason the moon’s gravitational force is more dominant is because of its proximity to Earth. The sun is 390 times farther from Earth than the moon.

Watching lunar phases and the tide’s schedule help charters determine the best times for fishing inshore waters near Cocoa Beach

Again, most novice fishermen do not consider how tides can affect fishing. With a little knowledge about the area though, you can determine an approximate time when popular gamefish will be active.

When tidal currents are far offshore, their effect is hardly noticeable. However, as they reach or recede from the coast, this moving water is going through sometimes narrow inlets, straits and estuaries. Below is an extreme example from Norway.

A tidal flow this strong would be very abnormal for Cocoa Beach. However, a stronger flow of water in or out will move shrimp and small baitfish together in a steady stream. Gamefish like Tarpon, Redfish, Snook and others will be more likely to feed in certain areas during these times. Naturally, this current is more active during a “spring” tide, which is considered to be some of the best times to catch fish.

On the other hand, if the tidal flow is weak or not moving at all, shrimp, crabs and baitfish will be able to scatter around, which means fish will scatter too and harder to pinpoint. This issue is compounded further when a “neap” tide occurs and the currents are at their weakest.

As an aside, the peak of low tide will reveal all sorts of sandbars with shrimp and crabs that didn’t make it out with the currents. Many anglers can find good bait by wandering the mucky pieces of earth that appear during low tide.

We could certainly continue talking about how the tides affect fishing, but a lot of it comes down to trial and error and learning how the tides affect a certain area. Other factors like geography, wind and other conditions also play a role in how tides affect fishing.

Reputable fishing charters will closely observe tides around Cocoa Beach before setting out on their excursion. This information plays a big role in determining where the captain will go for the best chance of seeing some action.

To learn more about fishing in Cocoa Beach, we invite you to visit http://www.captainjimross.com for more details or check available dates to see when you can schedule an exhilarating fishing trip!

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