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Page 195

The amount of the change in water level is dictated by the phase of the moon. Each month, the moon goes through four distinct changes: new (meaning the moon is not visible from earth), first quarter, full, and last quarter. A new moon and a full moon, which occur when the sun, earth, and moon are in a direct line, cause higher-than-normal tides. These are called spring tides. When the moon is at the first-quarter and third-quarter phases, the sun and moon form a right angle, with the earth at the center. Because the gravitational pull is decreased, tides are lower than normal. These are called neap tides.

The wind can also affect the height of a tide. If a strong wind is blowing toward the shore simultaneous with a flood tide, the water level will be higher than normal.

Saltwater fishermen should become familiar with tide times (which are published in area newspapers, shown on some television weather reports, and listed on tide charts that are available at many tackle shops) and patterns because they greatly influence fish behavior. During slack periods, forage fish can seek refuge in cover. When the tide starts moving, these fish are pulled along with the flow, where predatory fish feed on them.

Whether the flood tide or ebb tide makes for better fishing depends on the locale. Generally, an ebb tide draws forage fish out of shallow-water cover, because the dropping levels force the fish into deeper water. This usually means good fishing in areas where the currents are forced into narrow areas, such as tidal rivers and creeksespecially during a neap tide, when less water will remain near shore. In other areas, though, an incoming tide will allow gamefish access to areas they couldn't reach during low-tide periods, such as the shallow, weedy waters of a bay, where forage fish will hide. This is especially true during a spring tide, when the high-tide waters reach a higher-than-normal level.

Still, there are exceptions. For instance, in one tidal creek I frequent, the summer-flounder fishing is much better on the flood than on the ebb. Why? I'm not sure. I have noticed, however, that a lot of vegetation and other debris gets sucked into the flow of the outgoing tide. My line gets fouled with weeds quite a bit during this period, but not often enough to keep a fish from finding my bait. But the actual reason isn't as important as my recognizing that pattern, which is what all saltwater fishermen should strive for: reading the tide and recognizing how it influences the fish in your waters.

Surf and Jetty Fishing

Just standing on a beach with the wind and salt spray blowing in your face while huge breakers crash at your feet can prove exciting and invigorating. Perhaps that's why so

Fish Recipes

Fish Recipes

This is a great collection of delicious fish and shell fish recipes that you will love.

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