High or Low: Determine The Best Tide For Surf Fishing

Anglers around the world know that successful fishing does not only rely on the equipment but also on your knowledge of how environmental factors affect your catch. You can have the best tackle and equipment but not knowing the best time or condition to cast the line sets you up for more wasted time and baits. 

In the same way, you may have noticed how using the same rod, rig, hook, and bait still produces different productivity and bite counts every time. This may be confusing at first but this is just because of the changing tides. 

Knowing what tides are and how to use them to your advantage helps you become better at surf fishing! 

What Exactly Are Tides? 

If ever you’ve stayed near the ocean for quite some time, perhaps during a vacation or even during fishing, you may notice that the ocean level changes from time to time. This is due to the pattern of low tides and high tides the body of water goes through. 

Types of tides

The gravitational pull of the moon determines what tide the ocean will experience. This causes the rising and falling of the waters of the seas and oceans. Here is a brief difference between the two types of tides:

  • Low Tide

An ocean’s lowest level is known as low tide. This happens when the moon moves away from a body of water. 

  • High Tide

A high tide is a time when the ocean has reached its highest level. This means that the body of water is closest to the moon at this moment. 

Oceans aren’t the only ones affected by this phenomenon but other bodies of water too like lakes. This means that at any given time, the Earth always experiences two high tides and two low tides. If it’s not in high tide, then it surely is in low tide. 

How many tides are there each day?

To answer this, it is important to know how the tides work. If the moon is above a quarter of the earth, the water will rise on this part because of the gravitational force from the moon. Meanwhile, the centrifugal force also raises the water but in the opposite quarter of the Earth. 

Since the earth has four quarters, half of the earth is in high tide while the other half is in low tide. The Earth also rotates causing each spot to experience 4 tides a day: 2 high tides and 2 low tides. 

Factors Affecting The Tides

Now that we have covered the basics of tides, it’s also important to know what other factors affect them. Through this, we can have a better discernment of when a body of water will peak.

Moon Phases

The strongest factor affecting the tides is the phases of the moon. The gravitational force the moon and sun have on earth is at their greatest when all three of them align. During this time, the forces are the most concentrated and unified. Hence, producing the most noticeable tidal changes and highest levels of water. 

Spring tide

Every two months, the spring tide is experienced. This happens during a full moon and new moon. 

Many anglers have noticed that catch during this time is the most fulfilling compared to other days. This is also best for surf fishing since it produces both high levels of water and more water movement giving the fish more time to eat than to roam around and look for food. 

How The Tides Can Change Your Fishing Productivity

Just like what was mentioned earlier, the tides not only affect the water level of the ocean but also determine the fish’s behavior. 

Aside from a fish’s movement, comfort, and spawning, one of its most affected behavior is its feeding patterns. This should be taken into account, especially when aiming for successful surf fishing. 

For example, in low tides, you may find yourself catching more predatory fish. This may be attributed to the fact that they try to feed more on the baitfish during this time. 

As the tide changes, predatory fish are also moving and changing their location. When the ocean they are at experiences low tide, they tend to concentrate more on areas where they can find the most baitfish. These are areas where the baitfish will pass through as they are going back with the low tide.

Best Tide For Surf Fishing

Low Tide or High Tide: Which is the best for surf fishing?

The ocean’s condition, whether it’s in high tide or low tide, does not matter to some. They believe that both tides can still produce catch and you just have to play with the other external factors. However, there are still advantages and disadvantages to surf fishing either with low or high tides. 

Low Tide

Low tides are generally good if you want to inspect the area first and assess the possible fish you can catch when high tide comes. It’s also best to surf two hours before and after a low tide. 

If your goal is to catch predatory fish, you should definitely opt to surf fish during low tide. It’s also better if you know where they usually catch baitfish like in pockets or channels. 

However, this type of tide also results in the least amount of bites. 

High Tide

Many prefer high tide when surf fishing because this is the period when fish are focused more on feeding. Since fish do not like staying near the shoreline or shallow waters, a higher water level is a good sign. This also results in a deeper ocean which is a condition important for successful surf fishing. 

Just like surf fishing at low tide, it is best to fish one to two hours before and after a high tide. During this time, water is both deep and moving, a status most fish species prefer. 

Does it matter if I choose the first or the second tide?

Generally, it is best to surf fish when the chances of experiencing two high tides are higher. In this way, maximum productivity can be reached. 

However, one tide is only followed by another after 12 hours. Most anglers do not have the time to fish both times. So which is the best tide: the first or the second? 

Although both tides can guarantee you great catch, a high tide during dawn or dusk hours is the best and most recommended tide for surf fishing. To be more specific, high tide two hours before sunrise is the best way to go. Night surf fishing is also good for larger fish since they feed near the shoreline during this time. 

During down, visibility and light are also low. These are two conditions predatory fish like when eating. Hence, making them very vulnerable to catch. 

Darkness also gives you the extra cover to approach the target and cast your range. The hook and line are very difficult to see during this time too so fish tend to bite more into them. 

How To Spot The Best Tide

If tides are still quite challenging for you to determine, you can just consult the calculated tide charts published across different media platforms. It’s now easier to access them through: television, fishing websites, port announcements, and even weather forecasters. 

For beginners, you can also opt for mobile applications that cover reports such as fishing spots, water temperature, weather, tides, and water level chart. 

Take Note: Other Important Conditions for Surf Fishing

Keeping an eye too much on the tides is one of the many mistakes people who like to fish make. As what many expert anglers would say, the tide is only one of the many factors affecting your catch. It’s also important to know things like fish species, air pressure, etc.

If you want to get the best out of your fishing experience, make sure to consider these conditions too:


Depending on what fish species you’re trying to get, there are months or quarters that each is more common. But one thing is for sure, the best time for surf fishing is during the first hours of the day or just hours before sunset. 


The direction and strength of the current also affect surf fishing. Stronger currents may be a challenge in keeping the bait while weaker ones can affect the fishing in some other ways.

Frequently Asked Question

Can I just cast a longer distance to reach deeper waters?

It is possible but casting in a long distance during a high tide leads to better results. During low tides, the water level can be so low that no equipment or casting skills can lead you to a deeper spot.

High tides make the fish more comfortable and feel safer since the water level is higher. Therefore, this is the ideal condition for surf fishing. However, to ensure that the best results are achieved, other factors like moon phases and environmental conditions should also be considered.

Leave a Comment