Tidal Bass – Baitfish Movement

Tidal Water Baitfish movement

Fishing tidal water for bass can be a difficult experience, especially the first couple of times out. The techniques you have learned while fishing lakes will still apply on tidal water with the addition of two variables. These variables consist of water level (Tide Fluctuation) and current.

Understanding the influence that these variables have on baitfish will simplify the process of finding bass. Tide fluctuation affects the location of baitfish while current controls movement of the baitfish.

When high water is present the baitfish will spread out in areas like large pad fields and along flooded banks. This is when the bass are also spread out and difficult to locate. Flooded coves and pad fields offer protection and current free water in which the baitfish can freely move around.

As water levels begin to fall, baitfish react by moving out towards deeper water. With this outward movement current begins to influence the direction of the baitfish. Rather than swim against the current they allow themselves to be pulled along with the water flow.

The bass, knowing the movements of the baitfish, respond by positioning themselves on outside edges of structure such as pilings, logs, grass edges and rock piles. The bass position themselves so they are facing into the current and ready for the baitfish to be pulled into their strike range.

When fishing for tidal bass a natural presentation is very important. Because the bass face into the current, it is key that you use a lure presentation that moves with the current. If you are fishing horizontal lures, always try to bump the structure you are fishing. If you are fishing grass try to tick the top of the grass. This bumping your lure into objects will result in more strikes.

Another important thing to keep in mind is lure size. Most river forage is small in size; therefore I like to downsize my lures. For example, I use four-inch worms, smaller crank baits and jigs. However, I do use heavy spinner baits. These heavier baits run better in strong current.

Try these ideas on your next tidal trip and improve your chances of success.

Note: The baitfish patterns described in this article will vary in the early spring and late fall seasons. I will discuss this in a future article.

Fish hard and fish smart.

BILL LINDOERFER (Nitrosavage3@comcast.net)

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