If you want to catch the most fish, make sure you’re casting when the fish are biting. There are several factors to consider including time of day, the temperature, and of course the tide.
Generally speaking, the best time of the day to surf fish is at dawn or dusk when the tide is rising or shortly after high tide.
The best time of the day to surf fish (also known as beach fishing) also depends on the species of fish that you’re trying to catch. Predator species fish are most active around dusk and dawn.
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.
You will have the most success in the two hours or so leading up to high tide. That’s when the smaller bait fish are getting pulled toward the shore and the bigger fish are preying on them.
Some advantages of fishing a low tide can give you 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 and mark places like sandbars and holes. 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.
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.
It is the time to surf fish is at the beginning of an incoming tide, before dawn. The time just before sunset is the the optimal time to capture bigger fish that were out of reach for most of the day.
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!