Waiting for the Tides to Change

No,  I’m not waxing metaphorical, I am really and truly waiting for the tides to change!    This is a tough time of year for a fly casting sight caster and his trusty kayak because the high tides are all in the middle of the day, when sight casters would much rather have skinny water.

Now admittedly, August in the South is not a great time of year, but it does have some benefits.  For example, the shad start migrating, the white bass start blitzing in the oxbows and reservoirs, the sandy southern MS creeks run low and clear, the spotted bass in the creeks get surly and start crashing anything on the water.  And, the tides begin to change.  Instead of high tides from 10:00 AM to noon etc which has been going on for months, the high tides shift and you can catch an early AM high tide.

For example, I go to the NOAA site and download the tide tables into a spreadsheet so that I can play around with them.   The spreadsheet lets me look for desirable tides using filters that I place on the different columns.  If I use a filter that allows only high tides that occur between midnight and 5:00 AM, this is what I get in the pic below.  Notice the dates are almost all fall and winter dates.  I treat the tide change in August as the beginning of the sight casting fishing season. The last early am high tide in the spring and summer is in April and it’s a slack tide, and slack tides are not great.  But in August, the early AM high tides start showing up again.


So why do I want an early AM tide?  Well, one place where I fish, if you get a high tide at say 3:00 AM and it’s a respectable tide, (not too high, not too low, for me that’s 1.25 to 1.5 feet) a fly fisher can be fishing skinny water during the primary sight casting window, 10:00AM to 2:00PM, greatly increasing the chances for spotting fish tailing, crawling, cruising, chilling, waking, whatever.  It is “sight” casting after all.  How do you sight cast fish two or three feet under in the stained waters of MS and LA?

Let’s look at that 8/27/2017 date.


That .70 low tide is not really great, but it’s certainly better than what we had on June 8 which is the day we made a trip. We were just so anxious to fish, when the weather turned off sunny for one day, we took off.  Seven tenths of a foot is certainly skinnier than the 1.7 feet experienced June 8.


Keep in mind, August kicks off the skinny water sight windows and during the next five months it only gets better.

Sept thru Jan 2017

People ask me, “what are you waiting for? The best time to go fishing is when you can”.
Well, I know it’s crazy, but I like to actually catch fish and so I try to stack the deck.  Now there are some places you can go that aren’t tide sensitive, but there are plenty of places that are.  I knew better when we made our June 8 trip and I shouldn’t have been surprised that we didn’t catch a fish, only seeing a couple.  Of course the water was very high and we had commercial fishermen running trawl nets on some of our flats.  It could have been a better day for sure. And who knows, with all that water there could have been fish present and we just couldn’t see them.  Anyway,  that’s one of the drawbacks of going fishing based on “when you can”, if you go and it’s bad, it reduces your motivation to go back.

If you want to try my tide spreadsheet, I have it here.   Hopefully you are skilled with spreadsheets and know how to play with the filters at the top of the columns.  I did the hard work as I have loaded the 2017 tides for the Grand Bay NERR from the NOAA website.  Of course NOAA has tides for places all over and if they have data for your favorite spot you can download the data into this sheet.  It takes a little skill but it’s not hard.  Or, you can do it the hard way and just read down through the data manually to figure it out.

Anyway, here is the spreadsheet, don’t say I never gave you anything:

GB tide analysis 2017



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