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Reading tide charts

Questions and Answers about the basics of flyfishing for newbies and the old timers that just can't remember
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Reading tide charts

Postby wgmiller » Sun Jul 19, 2009 5:51 pm

So I understand that knowing when the tides are coming and going is important to fishing. I researched the tide chart for tomorrow as an example and am attempting to make sure that I am reading it correctly:

2009-07-20 02:39 EDT 0.01 feet Low Tide
2009-07-20 03:59 EDT Moonrise
2009-07-20 06:01 EDT Sunrise
2009-07-20 07:26 EDT 0.56 feet High Tide
2009-07-20 14:30 EDT -0.03 feet Low Tide
2009-07-20 19:16 EDT Moonset
2009-07-20 19:56 EDT 0.74 feet High Tide
2009-07-20 20:15 EDT Sunset

The best time to fish the channels and sloughs is the ebbing flow, correct? So that would mean that between 07:26 and 14:30 the tide would be on the way out and theoretically, this would be the time to fish. Also between the hours of 19:56 and 02:39 would be another time to fish. My curiosity arises in the sense that I will probably be fishing at sunrise (or not long after) which would put me on the rising tide. Should I wait until after 07:26 to fish or just get out there, sling some line and not worry about it?

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Re: Reading tide charts

Postby mb82 » Sun Jul 19, 2009 5:56 pm


If the fly is not in the water you don't have any chance of catching anything.
I would head out at sunrise. I look at the chart so I can know what to expect for the water levels. Dad and I have arguments about when to fish, he says incoming tide you catch the most fish, I think outgoing.
Jeff G
Generally found under a bridge somewhere.

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Re: Reading tide charts

Postby bhorsley » Sun Jul 19, 2009 8:22 pm

most of the guys fishing the Propeller slough have been doing better on the in coming tide or at least the last time i talked to them.

Around Oregon Inlet you need to add 2 to 2.5 hours after the stated tide before the direction changes---that is what i use anyway
growing old ain't for sissies

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Re: Reading tide charts

Postby kendalloz » Mon Jul 20, 2009 11:03 am


There is more info than you probably want here...

Tides and currents are different. While it would make sense (to me at least) to think of incoming current on the rising tide, current stops at high tide, then current begins to ebb as the water falls, it does not work that way. Around here, the current usually continues coming in after high water and usually continues out after the time of low tide. Slack current does not usually take place at high tide. It gets complicated, but is easy for some to learn by simply thinking of tide and current as 2 separate things. Tide come in, tide go out. Separately, current come in, stops, go out, stops, comes back in.

If you look at this PORTS page you can see, on 2 separate charts, that this morning's max flood current was at about the same time as high tide! And, max ebb current is predicted to be at the time of low tide.

So, you can plan a trip based on tide, current, time of day, etc. As mb82 says, sometimes the best time to go is anytime you can! Which tide/current combo is best depends on species and time of year.

If you ever get as chance to look at a TideLog (published by Pacific Publishers) they have tide times and height, current, dawn, sunrise, sunset, darkness, moon phase, and so on on a single page for each day. Makes it visibly clear how current and tide do not sync. They do not make one for the upper OBX but do make a "Mid Atlantic" version and a Chesapeake Bay version.

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