I was recently asked by Sportfishing magazine to provide my insight on fishing low tide and here’s a little of what I had to say.
Low water proves a problem since it limits the number of locations that fish will hold. Troughs and deeper structure are my focus when the water gets skinny. I like to form a game plan prior to leaving the dock based on the day’s conditions. Most of my decisions on where and when to fish are dictated by tidal height and current flow. We get small tides on the Chesapeake so wind plays a vital role in tidal height. The bay’s western shore sees extreme lows during strong southwest winds, so it is important to plan accordingly.
Realizing that wind influences not only tidal height but also current flow is a key to success. Gamefish seek out moving water which is always somewhere; the key is learning where to look for moving water at any given moment based on tide and wind. Traveling a small distance offshore or around a river bend can result in varied current flow which will influence your success, particularly during low tide. Try making a mental note or keeping logbook to record the multiple variables.
My go-to method for locating fish is to live chum an area with peanut bunker where we keep an eye out for gamefish exploding on an easy meal. This can be particularly valuable during low tide when fish are holding in deeper water. Lone juvenile menhaden scurrying across the water’s surface is a surefire way to bring gamefish up from the depths. This technique allows for fishing topwater lures during times when you would otherwise have to bounce the bottom with jigs.
Stay attuned to variables like tidal height and develop a game plan for every scenario; increased fishing success will be your reward!