With the grayness of winter finally ebbing, I've received several requests for charter dates in the last couple of days, in which the customer has asked me to suggest "decent" or "good" days. This has reminded me about my usual spring “tides” fishing report, in which I try to explain the value of tide in planning fishing trips. Obviously the best days to go fishing are the ones when you can go, but what is more important, the ones where everyone has fun, skies are clear, winds are calm and we catch a boatload of fish! There is more to it than that. Besides bait supply, water temperature, boat traffic, time of day and tide there are all the issues of presentation, which I wont go into today. Tide is very important, and I believe all fish feed according to patterns of tide movement or lack of it. Today I will try to explain how that is applied.
I feel TIDE or more simply, CURRENT FLOW has a huge affect on the quality of the fishing. Striped bass, for example, seem to bite best during periods of stronger current, yet our Cod and Bluefin Tuna, bite best when the current is smaller or when tide velocity slacks off. Tide size and velocity can vary greatly from week to week, depending upon the gravitational pull of the moon, and its path of orbit around Earth, and wind direction and velocity. To really understand how much tides can change, one needs have a tide chart that shows BOTH the time of high and low tide, but also the heights in feet and tenths, of tides, at a certain constant location. I use a chart that measures these differences at Boston. Many tide charts will show only the times of high and low tide, and not the measured heights. Since I use the Boston chart as my norm, I must add deviations to the times quoted. With experience and observation, I can calculate very accurately the time of slack water, which is the period in which water slows to a stop before changing direction again, AND the times of maximum current of either ebb and flood tides. (IN goes one way - OUT goes another) Bluefin Tuna love to bite at this slack water period. Applying the deviation isn’t hard, it is simple addition and subtraction. For example the time of dead high tide (slack) I have found to be approximately 2 hours before Boston at 1 mile east of the Chatham Bar. Note: even though its slack 1 m east of the bar, the water flowing into pleasant Bay is still coming in, as the “flood” has yet to fill the bay completely. So while it is “full” and “high” outside the bar, its still coming in (flooding) at inside locations. Pleasant Bay is after Boston, because the water takes time to get to those inside locations. Your own fishing spots will require your own observations and applied deviations.
I’m getting long here, but I’m trying to get folks to understand the variations due to location. Besides deviations in time due to location, there are variations in the size of the tide and therefore the velocity of the flow as well. Big tides have more current for longer duration and shorter periods of “slack water” than a smaller tide. A ‘big” tide would be over 10.5 feet and a small one would be less than 9.5 feet. Given that some tides are as large as 14 feet and others are only 6 feet in movement, there is some great variations in flow velocity and the duration of “slack water”. To measure the actual size of the tide, one must add the heights of the high tide to the heights of the low tide. Usually the low is higher or lower than the mean low (0.0) resulting in what is called a “plus” or a “minus” tide. A “plus” sized low tide is subtracted from the height of the high, and a “minus” sized low is added to the height of the high.
Here is an example taken from the Boston tide book on Saint Patrick’s Day, 2011.
The morning low occurs at 3:28 am with a height of 0.1 feet, and the morning high occurs at 9:41 am with a height of 10.8 feet. The combined height of this tide is the 10.8’ high, minus the 0.1’ low for a height of 10.7’. The afternoon low tide (same day) is at 4:02 pm with a height of minus 0.7’. The afternoon high is at 10:14 pm with a height of 10.3’. The combined height of this tide is 10.3 plus the minus 0.7 of the low for a total of 11’, and is a relatively large tide.
In comparison, to the extreme of a “small” tide, lets look at June 25, 2011. Here we have a morning low at 1:00 am, with a height of 1.6 feet and a morning high at 7:11 am of 8.4 feet. The combined height of this much smaller tide is 8.4’ - 1.6’ = 6.8.’
The first example shows a 11 foot tide and the second shows a tide of only 6.8 feet.
Considering that the tides change roughly every 6 hours, some flow or velocity variations are to be expected on differing size tides. (two highs and two lows every day) A 12 foot tide has twice as much water flowing than a 6 foot tide. Bass tend to like water moving, cod and tuna prefer less moving waters. Some days are better than others in predicting flow and velocity. Depending upon the species you target, some days are better than others for fishing. Hopefully this explanation will help you to plan your next fishing, clamming, or just gunkholing and sunbathing trip.
If you have some flexibility in deciding when you book your summer fishing trip, now would be a good time to reserve the days with decent tides for what species you want to go after. Why don’t you give me a call or email to talk about setting aside a good tide day for your upcoming fishing trip?
Thanks very much,
Capt. Bruce & Marilyn S