Surf Casting Florida

Learn how to catch more fish off of the beach.

What is the best tide for surf fishing?

The best tide for surf fishing is the upper parts of the incoming and outgoing high tide. The water volume is higher and more fish can be accessed closer to the beach. That is why the higher parts of the tide lead to the most effective surf fishing.

The complete answer to this question depends upon what species of fish that you are trying to catch; how far out the sand bars are on your beaches; the water clarity and many other factors. There are some fish that you will be targeting right at our feet during high tide and other fish that you will need to target on the backside of sandbars 100 yards from the beach.

You also have to consider how strong the tides will be. The gravitational pull of the Sun and the Moon are the cause of the tides on our planet and all tides are not created equal. You have to learn how to play the tides correctly.

I’ll go over a few different scenarios in the article below.

I am a FISHING CHARTER CAPTAIN on the Treasure Coast of Florida. I have been fishing the beaches, mangroves and oyster bars all over Florida for more than 40 years. I will cover the best tides for different species of fish in the article below.

Let’s get started.

Watch the video below and catch more snook off of the beach at high tide.

When is the best tide for surf fishing low tide?

There are scenarios when the low tide bite might be the best bite for you. When the pompano and whiting are holding on the outer sand bars during the least 3 hours of the outgoing tide you can catch a ton of fish. When the tide is nearing its low point you can often do very well by fishing the back side of the outer sand bars.

Those pompano and whitings do not want to get stuck inside the sand bards during the low tide so they will usually move to the outer sand bars. A well placed bait on the back side trough of the outer sand bars can be a good way to limit out on pompano.

Often times, the first 3 hours of the incoming tide from dead low tide can be a great time to fish the outer sand bars too. The fish that were stuck outside of the sand bars will move to the beach side of the sand bars to feed with the first part of the incoming tide. The only difference from fishing the last part of the outgoing and the first part of the incoming is the bait placement. You will want to cast your bait to the beach side of the outer sand bars.

This is a scenario that happens quite often so don’t forget to go out and surf fish the bottom of the outgoing and first part of the incoming tides. You will be happy that you did.

When is the best tide for surf fishing high tide?

Usually the fish that you want to catch are closer to shore during the higher parts of the tide. It makes a lot of sense if you think about it. The bigger predatory fish can’t get close to the beach without a higher volume of water. Once they can get past the outer sand bars then can find some food and drive it up against the beach.

High tide is definitely the best tide for catching larger predators like snook, tarpon, sharks, mackerel, bluefish…….. and many other predatory species of fish. When the bait schools are running the beaches you can catch a 5 foot tarpon or shark within 10 feet of the shore.

You are not allowed to catch sharks off of the beach with dead bait anymore in Florida. The Florida Wildlife Commission does not want fishermen attracting sharks to the public beaches where people swim. You can still use lures but you have to get into the water with the sharks to remove the hooks. You can’t remove the sharks from the water.

The pompanos, whitings and croakers can be caught right at your feet during the higher parts of the tide. They will swim between your legs sometimes going after sand fleas and other crabs. High tide is the best tide for surf fishing if you ask me.

My favorite surf fishing scenario happens when the last couple of hour of incoming or the first couple of hours of outgoing tide happens at dawn or dusk. Dawn and dusk are the magic hours for fishing where ever you are. It can be inshore, on the beach or in a lake, it really doesn’t matter. The low light is often when you can trick finicky fish to eat your bait or lures.

I wrote another article on this website all about the tips and techniques for surf fishing both the higher and lower parts of the tide. You can read that article by clicking right here.

Watch the video below and catch more sharks at high tide.

What is the best lunar phase of the tide for surf fishing?

This is a tricky question. Fish like to eat during a moving tide. You won’t catch too many fish during the slack tide when there is no current. Don’t ever fish during the slack tide when the tide is changing from high to low or vice versa. The only fish that seem to like a slack tide is mangrove snappers. BUT that is the only species that I can think of that does.

In general, the stronger the tides the better it is for fishing. This means that a few days before and after the full moon and the new moon will give you the best water movement. The stronger currents and tides create more feeding opportunities for the predatory fish in the surf.

The strong tides will churn up the sand and expose the crabs, clams and shrimp that the whitings, croakers and pompano want to eat. The stronger tides will also pull more nutrients off of the beach and rocks and into the sea. This helps even the smallest of marine creatures get more nourishment.

The strong tides also get the bait schools moving in larger groups. This helps the bigger predatory fishing like bluefish, mackerel, tarpon, sharks, snook, redfish, flounder…… and many more get their food more easily. When there is not much current, the bait schools tend to disperse which makes them harder for the predators to locate.

I have noticed that the fish are not hungry in the mornings following the full moon. I think that the extra light from the moon allows them to feed more effectively at night. This means that they are not hungry until later the following day. Make a mental note of that too for the next time that you go out fishing.

In general, larger predators will often hunt closer to the water’s surface at night compared to daytime hours. So night time can be good for some predatory fish that you may want to target.


It is a good idea to know what the tides are doing before you go surf fishing. The tides will make or break your fishing day at the beach. The great thing about tides is that they last about 6 hours each. This means that if you show up at the beach and it’s low tide, then you can come back in 6 hours and fish the high tide.

Tides are very predictable so with the technology of today there is really no excuse not to know what the tides are doing. You can catch fish during any part of the tide but when the water is really moving is the best part of the tides to fish.

You can catch fish off of the beach regardless of the tide but why not maximize your fishing potential? Right?

I hope this article helps you catch more fish off of the beach. Good luck.

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