JerseyJeb

Thoughts on tidal ranges and consistent fishing

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One of the things I have been thinking a lot about lately is the impact of tidal ranges on back bay fishing. Specifically consistent fishing, as in going to fish on any given day in season and hooking up. To contrast this with migratory or transitory conditions where you have really good fishing but only briefly typically surrounding the migration of gamefish or their prey species. (eg. good striper or bluefishing on a shallow flat)

When you have a big enough tidal range and a slowly sloping sand or mud bottom, say for example a 6 ft tidal range you could have 200 yards of basically low quality habitat for a lot of species of fish, which is going to zone out any fisherman on foot. Say you have to two identical rock piles, one pile the water never dips below 2 ft but only goes to 4.5 ft on the high and another pile is basically dry at low tide but goes to 6.5 ft on the high. I used to think well 6.5ft  > 4.5 ft gamefish will show up from *somewhere* and use the area during high tide. Now I am of opposite thought, I think the minimum water level is super crucial and especially impacts bottom oriented species. 

In ecology this idea is already fleshed out for the intertidal zone and you have intertidal zonation and really specific limits for where certain creatures show up. I think you could probably map out a similar system for fish, it's just a bit more complex due to fishes life cycles and distances they will travel makes it more dynamic. I could be wrong about this but I have no way to verify without a boat, since consistently deeper areas are farther out. Right now all I can go on is fishing very similar bay areas where one is productive and one is not and the only difference seems to be lowest water depth.

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Since you can’t verify I’d say set your conclusions aside and fish the better spot and figure out why you are finding fish there. You could try to map out a specific zone you think fish would be in but practical experience will serve you better. 

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On 8/19/2022 at 9:09 PM, JerseyJeb said:

One of the things I have been thinking a lot about lately is the impact of tidal ranges on back bay fishing. Specifically consistent fishing, as in going to fish on any given day in season and hooking up. To contrast this with migratory or transitory conditions where you have really good fishing but only briefly typically surrounding the migration of gamefish or their prey species. (eg. good striper or bluefishing on a shallow flat)

When you have a big enough tidal range and a slowly sloping sand or mud bottom, say for example a 6 ft tidal range you could have 200 yards of basically low quality habitat for a lot of species of fish, which is going to zone out any fisherman on foot. Say you have to two identical rock piles, one pile the water never dips below 2 ft but only goes to 4.5 ft on the high and another pile is basically dry at low tide but goes to 6.5 ft on the high. I used to think well 6.5ft  > 4.5 ft gamefish will show up from *somewhere* and use the area during high tide. Now I am of opposite thought, I think the minimum water level is super crucial and especially impacts bottom oriented species. 

In ecology this idea is already fleshed out for the intertidal zone and you have intertidal zonation and really specific limits for where certain creatures show up. I think you could probably map out a similar system for fish, it's just a bit more complex due to fishes life cycles and distances they will travel makes it more dynamic. I could be wrong about this but I have no way to verify without a boat, since consistently deeper areas are farther out. Right now all I can go on is fishing very similar bay areas where one is productive and one is not and the only difference seems to be lowest water depth.

I’m on board with this. A favorite barrier island  fishing spot of mine was wrecked by a nearby barrier island adding sand to its beach. That sand washes down to the island I fished, and add a couple of hurricanes, and now on low, low tides, you could walk out 200 yards and maybe get your ankle wet.

What is left for fish to eat? What happens to the sand fleas? 
There are still spots deep enough where the sand fleas can make it. But fishing certainly isn’t like it was four years ago when I could get whiting, bluefish, occasional snook, speckled trout, mackerel, red drum, eel, spot, weakfish, right off the beach

Large Bait fish pods and especially needlefish are lacking.

The entire food chain could have been undone by the beach remodeling.

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Using your rockpile comparison stated above I can not draw a conclusion or voice an opinion. I find the most important criteria (for me) is not mentioned. I'd favor whichever rockpile that has a direct path to deeper water.. This will likely be the pathway that baitfish use to enter and exit the rockpile  Just observe (study) both rockpiles during both an incoming and outgoing tide without a predominate wind influence (adjusting for wind, for me, was an additional step) Throw some driftwood or seaweed in the water and watch the patterns. I think the answer (for you) will become more apparent afterwards

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1 hour ago, SC said:

Using your rockpile comparison stated above I can not draw a conclusion or voice an opinion. I find the most important criteria (for me) is not mentioned. I'd favor whichever rockpile that has a direct path to deeper water.. This will likely be the pathway that baitfish use to enter and exit the rockpile  Just observe (study) both rockpiles during both an incoming and outgoing tide without a predominate wind influence (adjusting for wind, for me, was an additional step) Throw some driftwood or seaweed in the water and watch the patterns. I think the answer (for you) will become more apparent afterwards


That is another factor for sure. But I was also just being general about all types of fish and just not primarily piscivorous fish.

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Find a tidal coefficient chart for your area. I find it helpful for planning around the rollercoaster progression of the tides. At a glance I knew on the 13th to expect a huge tide and strong currents.

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Funny isn't it? We learn. We figure out patterns and try everything possible to predict and consistently find repeatable success. However, AT BEST, fishing in general is so random! Why matters. But sometime we need to be even more patient than we already are to try and let why come to us versus intentionally looking. Just keep fishing the spots and observing and I think it will come to you. Just my opinion...

 

Imagine if golf balls(I don't play) or any ball of any sport had a brain and instincts set forth by mother nature!? 

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