While fishing any time during the tide cycle can be successful, there are better tides than others.
Generally speaking, the period leading up to high tide is the optimal time for surf fishing (also known as beach fishing). This is when the water brings the fish inward towards the beach as opposed to after high tide when the water and fish flow away from the beach.
Surf fishing at low tide isn’t recommended. The flow of water and the fish you’re trying to catch are moving away from you. However, low tide is the perfect time to read the beach and gain an advantage when fishing the high tide. When the tide is low it is easier to find structures that will hold fish when the tide is high. Look for sandbars and holes and keep that in mind for when you come back at high tide.
It is possible to catch fish at low tide. Walking out further will allow you to cast to deeper areas that hold fish during low tide. During low tide, you can reach spots that you could not during high tide. Depending on other factors specific to your area, these deep pools during low tide can be productive fishing spots.
During high tide, it is difficult to see the structures that were so easily visible during low tide. Fortunately, marking these locations ahead of time means that you can cast out to these locations during high tide.
When the tide is high, you do not need to cast very far out as fish will usually be much closer to you due to the deeper water. Predatory fish will be easier to catch during high tide as they will be closer to shore depending on the water depth in that specific location.
Related article: How to Surfcast Like a Pro
Best Tide for Surf Fishing
The optimal tide for fishing is threefold. One is the moon phases that will produce the highest tide, and second is the period in the tide cycle that moves the most water. Theoretically, the greatest amount of water flow by volume should occur in the third and fourth hour of the flood tide during new and full moon phases. Lastly, the positioning of the sun will affect tide levels as well, but not as much as the moon. The greatest amount tide rise occurs when the sun and moon are on the same side of the earth.
The reasoning behind this is that the larger than normal water flow will bring in baitfish, and larger predatory fish. The stronger current in the third and fourth hour of a flood tide does a better job at pulling in smaller baitfish, which means the bigger fish are usually not too far behind. Predatory fish require higher water levels to come closer to shore so as not to risk getting beached.
TidesChart is a great resource to see the tide forecast for your local beach.
Hello! My name is Tim and I’ve been fishing for over 30 years. I’ve learned a lot about fishing during that time and I love sharing that knowledge with others. I’m also a member of the International Game Fish Association (IGFA). Thanks for checking out the site!