When fishing tidal water most bass fisherman believe that it is most productive and efficient to fish only moving water. Dead tide is considered for the most part unproductive. Some anglers favor the later part of the outgoing tide and some may favor the incoming. The common bond is the fact that the water is moving.
To maintain moving water the angler has to continually relocate each time he finds the water flow slowing down. This action is known as running the tide. To demonstrate running of the tide consider the following example: You are fishing an outgoing tide and you sense the water movement slowing down along with the bite. Most of your fish have come off of fallen trees along the shoreline. What you need to do now is to run several miles up river to a point where the water is still flowing out and the bank has fallen trees. This will duplicate the exact pattern that worked down river.
It is a known fact that the rising and falling tide stimulates fish to feed. The moving water is controlling the movement of the baitfish to areas that are predictable to the fish and the angler. When the tide is dead, the fish become very passive.
Many tournament anglers have mastered the art of running the tide to keep their presentation in front of active fish. I have had most of my success on the last two hours of the outgoing tide. The fish are easy to locate because they move to the outside edge of the cover. With this in mind you can eliminate a lot of wasted time casting to unproductive cover. There is a downside to running the tide. You must locate several areas that are productive. This requires a lot of time prefishing. It is also critical to understand how to read a tide chart. In addition, there are variables to take into consideration such as wind and the moon position. These will affect the tide flow. A considerable amount of time planning is also important if you want to be successful. Safe navigation of the water can become a concern, not to mention the expense of the gas that will be burned with all the miles you have to cover.
A new philosophy has been born with the success Denny Brauer had in the 1998 Kmart Top 150 on the tidal Potomac River. Brauer spent almost the entire tournament fishing the same area without running the tide. In practice he had little trouble catching fish on the moving tide but struggled on the dead tide. He decided to stay in this area through the dead tide and attempt to slow down his presentation. It worked! He found that during the slower stages of the tide if he used a slower presentation and made several more casts to the same spot he increased his bites. Brauer discovered that although the fishing was slower he saved a lot of running time. This was additional time he was able to fish. Running the tide does work but you can also be successful staying in one area if you work that area thoroughly and slowly.
Remaining in one area may be the best choice if you are unfamiliar with the water or have trouble reading a tide chart. Tidal waters can be very dangerous to navigate. You dont want to shorten your day without warning because you accidentally run aground or hit an unmarked rock pile.
Another reason to stay in one area is to eliminate fishing pressure. If you do your homework and find fish away from the crowd then why leave? Other anglers may be fishing places up or down the river you want to work. It can be difficult to catch fish on the dead stages of the tide but not impossible.
The next time you venture out on tidal water give these techniques a try. Find out what works best for you on that particular body of water. I now incorporate both techniques in my fishing and both have proven successful.
Fish hard and fish smart.