When to Fish
When is the best time to fish?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a perfect answer on when to fish. Ultimately, you want to be where the fish are when they’re biting. You’ll hear a lot of people say the best time to fish is whenever you have time, which certainly has some truth. If you want to up your game and catch more fish, though, you’ll want to take additional factors into account to improve your chances of catching fish. You can catch fish in any conditions, but on average, you will catch far more fish if you pay attention to some of the main factors influencing their activity.
There are many factors that affect where fish are and whether they’re biting. The major influences on fish are by the sun and the moon, and fish are generally more active during transitional periods. Here are some of the biggest factors:
- Tidal Flow - Fish often switch locations on the changes from high to low tide and vice versa (see more on that below), and they usually bite the most in the middle of the tides when the flow is generally highest.
- Solunar Periods - Fish activity is typically much higher during solunar periods, and are even higher during major solunar periods. You can read more about solunar periods here.
- Sunrise & Sunset - Fish are often more active around sunrise and sunset, and can be more lethargic during the heat of the day.
- Period of the Moon - The gravitational effect of the moon is at its greatest when it’s new or full. Additionally, when the moon is full, especially at night, it provides additional light that filters into the water.
Some other factors on whether fish are biting include the water clarity, temperature, and wind.
To help you plan your fishing, we provide predictions for tides, solunar periods, and the rest of the events related to the sun and the moon on our site. You have a couple options to view the predictions:
- Visit our home page where we’ll see a map of locations near you (we guess your location based on your internet address, so it may not be accurate), or you can pick the state you want to see predictions for, and go from there.
- Click the Find button at the top of this site. This uses your more accurate location, but your browser will ask you whether you want to share your detailed location information with us.
- Search for the location you want by name, zip code, etc. in the search box at the top of this site.
Is it better to fish at high tide or low tide?
It depends on what you’re fishing for and where, but fish usually (but not always) bite the most during transitional periods with the most current flow. So, for example, if the tides are 6 hours apart in the location you’re fishing, a good fishing time based on the tide might be 2 hours before the low tide.
Generally, when you’re inshore or relatively near the shore, a falling tide or outgoing tide will generally pull small bait, such as crustaceans or bait out of the shallower water into the deeper water. For this reason, if you’re not offshore, fishing after a high tide and before a low tide can often be better. That said, there are often times when an incoming, or rising tide can push bait into deeper water, for example if you’re fishing a pass, the tide might be pushing bait into the pass while the tide is rising.
The height of the tide also has a big influence on where fish are located, particularly in shallow water. For example, on shallow grass flats or near mangroves, there may not be enough water for fish during a low tide, so a rising tide that lets fish access rich shallow areas to eat small baitfish or crustaceans is a good time to fish in such an area. As the tide falls, those same fish usually move to deeper holes or troughs off the shallow areas and ambush bait that is pulled out of the shallow water as the tide falls.
So as you plan your fishing trip or time out, you may also want to plan the location you’re fishing based on the tide.
Do tides matter when fishing offshore?
Tides still matter a lot when fishing offshore, though not as much as when fishing inshore. The tides offshore obviously don’t affect where fish are as much as inshore, since there’s going to be enough water for fish there at all times.
The reason tides matter offshore is mostly related to the current they provide and the changes in flow from that current. The more current there is, and the more it pushes or influences the movement of bait, the more active the gamefish eating that bait will be.
That said, you’ll also want to pay a little more attention to other factors such as solunars and the moon phase when fishing offshore, since the tides don’t matter quite as much.
As a side note, we also provide a list of GPS locations in many states that are mostly offshore artificial reefs and wrecks, as well as predictions near each of these locations. You can view a list of locations here.
Do you have any feedback or suggestions? Or do you have other questions you want answered? Please let us know.