Surf Casting Florida

Learn how to catch more fish off of the beach.

Is it better to surf fish at high tide or low tide?

It is better to fish the high tide because the fish are generally closer to the beach during high tide because there is more water volume for them to feed and escape predators. Higher tide allows you to cover more water to figure out where the fish are near the shore.

There are other variables to consider like what species of fish you are targeting. For instance, when you are surf fishing for snook you will want to fish the trough that is right at your feet. You will want the tide to be on the high end for fishing in the trough but you can find snook there even during low tide.

You can catch pompano, permit, whiting, croaker, flounder, tarpon, snook, redfish…… right at your feet during the higher parts of the tide. This means that you do not need to bring your big long surf rods for high tide fishing usually.

That is not always the case however. Sometimes you will have to cast out as far as you can for fish even during the higher parts of the tide. You have to figure out where the fish are. You just never know where the feeding fish will be.

As a rule of thumb, the fish will be closer to the beach during the higher parts of the tide. The fish are usually farther out during the lower parts of the tide. BUT NOT ALWAYS.

I am a kayak fishing guide on the Treasure Coast of Florida. I have fished the beaches, mangroves, docks….. all over Florida for more than 40 years. In the article below, I will teach you what I know about surf fishing the high tide and the low tides.

Watch the video below to learn more about where to find the fish during any tide.

You have to think like a fish to read the tides correctly. During the lower parts of the tide you are looking for deeper spots on the beach by the sand bars. Those deeper spots might be hotter or colder than the surrounding water. Those deeper spots might have food in them. Those deeper spots might be a hiding place away from predators in the area.

You might be on a beach with three different sand bars like is common on the Gulf of Mexico. You might be on a beach with one main sand bar. This is common on the Atlantic coast. You will be able to see the beach differently as you become more able to read the waves and the water to know what the underwater topography is like without putting on a mask and snorkel.

The slightest change in depth might be where all of the fish are hanging out. Your job is to find that area. If there are waves breaking, then you know that is a shallow spot. The spots that are not breaking are the deeper ones. So you will want to test out those areas for feeding fish.

You are trying to figure out where the bait is for the fish that you are trying to catch. During the higher parts of the tide those baits are usually much closer to the beach. They are closer because the big predators that are eating them like to drive them into shallow water so they can’t run in as many directions.

I have seen 6 foot lemon sharks beach themselves to catch a mouth full of little 4 inch finger mullet. That is a sight to see.

You have to look at the beach as a few different fishing zones just like the video was talking about. The best place to surf fish regardless of the level of the tide is wherever the fish are, right? You won’t catch any fish if you are fishing where there are none.

I wrote another article on this website that covers in great detail how far out you need to cast to catch pompano and other fish species. You can see that article by clicking right here.

Is it worth fishing the beach at low tide?

Yes. It is worth fishing the beach at low tide as long as there are deep pockets or channels close to shore. Fish need those deep pockets and channels to hide from predators and to find food.

When there is a small wave activity during the lower parts of the tide the fishing is often better. I believe this to be true because the fish feel less visible to predators and the water is moving. Fish are programmed to feed when the water is moving so moving tides and currents are better for fishing.

It is also a good idea to check out a beach that you are planning on surf fishing during low tide. You want to do this to figure out where those deeper pockets and channels are because they will probably be the best spots to fish during the high tide too.

Give low tide a try the next time you are at the beach and decide for yourself if your beach is good for fishing at low tide.

Conclusion:

The best tide for surf fishing is the one where you can catch the most fish. Hopefully this article will help you catch fish off of the beach regardless of what part of the tide you are fishing. Me personally, I like to fish the higher parts of the tide and use my regular sized fishing gear. Those huge surf rods are a pain in the butt to haul all over the beach if you ask me. BUT sometimes they are the only gear that will get the job done when you have to get your bait out really far to catch fish.

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