The “Zen of When”, Again

It seems like everything I do depends on an index. From hunting the rut to when the bulls move into the marsh, there’s always a “best time to go”.  If you have a lot of money to spend on your pastimes I guess you can pay your way past the need for studying “when” to do something for the best effect.  Just letting your guide or outfitter be responsible for determining whether you have a good trip is actually preferable if you can afford it often enough.  But if you’re a DIY, working man, public waters fly fsherman, I’ve found that you have to pay attention to “when is” the best time to go.

I spend a lot of effort trying to determine the best times.  It saves on money and time but also, I really want to predict success, so I don’t subscribe to “the best time to go fishing is when you can” school of thought.  I appreciate the spirit but “because you can” is never a good reason for anything, if you think about it.

If planning were not important,  I guess that means I would just go to the MS River when the gauge is at 30 feet and the water is as muddy as cafe’ au laite.  Or maybe to the reservoir when there’s no bream bedding or mayflies.  Or the coast when the tide is high at mid-day, the water is muddy, the wind is high, it’s cloudy and the by-catch from the shrimpers is a mile off-shore sucking every redfish for miles around out of the marsh.   To quote Dwight D. Eisenhower,  “Plans are nothing… Planning is everything.”

So recently I find out from my wife that I have a mission to deliver a piece of furniture to my daughter on the coast.  My son, who is also my favorite fishing buddy, is also on that mission.   Since we are going to be right there,  I’m thinking about combining the “best time is when you can go” with a little “best time to go” planning.

Usually this time of year we are stuck in the pattern of high tide at noon every day.  The sight casting window centers around the nearly vertical rays of the mid-day sun, so having a lot of water during the sight window is counter productive.  In some places, Louisiana for instance, the fishing is not so sensitive to tides but the Grand Bay NERR, near Ocean Springs, is very tide sensitive.   I usually have to wait until the tides begin to change in August before I can get an early morning high tide.  But looking through the tide tables I notice that at the location near my daughters place, there is a nice little early morning high tide on July 21.   High tide is around 7:00 AM which means by noon there will have been five hours for water to drain out of the marsh.  And shrimping season has ended.  Maybe this little July tide is a precursor to the August tide change.  I hadn’t really noticed it before but checking previous year tide tables, I see it every July, just a few days where the high tide is from 6 to around 8 in the morning.  Over the years I seemed to have missed this fact.


Last year it was a just little earlier, but it occurred during the middle of the week and I couldn’t make it due to WORK.  But this year, it happens on Saturday and Sunday.  BINGO!


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