Best Time to Go Saltwater Fishing

High tide or low tide? Early morning or late afternoon? Full moon or moonless night? Read below to discover the best time to go saltwater fishing.

You have your tackle box stocked with new lures, a great new saltwater spot picked out, and an open day on your schedule. It just might be time to get out on the boat or over to the pier and wet a line if the fishing conditions are right. But how to tell if it is the best time to go saltwater fishing? Read below to get tips from the pros so that you too will know the best time to saltwater fish in your area.

BEST TIME TO SALTWATER FISH

Saltwater tides will fluctuate daily and are very important in determining not only the best saltwater fishing times, but also, the best saltwater fishing areas based on tides. Here are a few things to consider:

  • A slack tide means that the tide is neither incoming nor outgoing and that the water is not moving much. Avoid fishing during times of slack tide and focus on time periods where tidal movement will be most pronounced.
  • Plenty of water movement means that baitfish and crustaceans will also be moving and active. When the bait is active, so are the predatory game fish that feed upon them.
  • Some of the best fishing times occur during a strong incoming tide since the current will be bringing baitfish, crustaceans and other prey in towards land.
  • The best way to find out when the best fishing tide times will be is by checking a daily tide chart or by asking for a chart at your local tackle shop.

LUNAR PHASES

Fishing moon phases can affect when to fish saltwater areas in a few different ways. First, a full or new moon shines more light on the water at night, which can affect the feeding patterns of fish since it’s easier for them to see and feed. Second, during a full or new moon, the saltwater tides are stronger due to the pull of gravity. Stronger currents will mean more active baitfish and other prey making for optimal fishing tide times.

WEATHER PATTERNS AND BAROMETRIC PRESSURE

The arrival of a front that brings either cooler or warmer air temperatures will affect fishing. If you are looking for the best time to go saltwater fishing, a good period is just before a front comes through, when the barometric pressure is dropping, and when there is some cloud cover. After a front passes the skies are normally clear and the fish need time to re-adjust to the change in conditions before they will actively feed again.

TIME OF DAY

Specifically, dawn or dusk are generally the best time to go saltwater fishing if the weather and tidal movements are favorable. Remember to reference a saltwater tide chart to see which range of hours during the day will be the best fishing tide times.

SEASONS AND MIGRATION PATTERNS

Depending on the species, water temperature, mating habits, and feeding habits, many game fish have a season or specific time of year when they are more commonly found in a certain area. As an example, one of the most famed sport fish of Florida, the tarpon, prefers water temperatures of 72 to 82°F. When water temperatures drop below this level or increase above 82°, tarpon will migrate to waters within the species preferred temperature range. Many of the migratory game fish species are pelagic fish which live in the water column of coastal and ocean waters.

Make sure to check the newspaper or your local fishing reports before going fishing so you know how the saltwater tides will be running on the day you plan to fish. A little bit of research can make a big difference in the number of fish you catch.

Learn the best time to saltwater fish in west coast states on our next page.