Tackling a Neap Tide 2/23/12
The thing I dread most as an inshore fishing guide is a neap tide. A neap tide occurs twice a month during the first and third quarters of the moon. It is when the sun and the moon are at right angles of the Earth causing a very weak gravitational pull on the Earths water. This tide produces very little water movement, which greatly effects the feeding patterns of the fish. I try to schedule my trips on the best possible tide, however, sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. One thing I have learned from being a full time guide is how to grind out a decent fishing trip on a terrible tide. Despite what anglers think, SOME fish will still feed on a bad tide.
I had the pleasure of experiencing such a tide just a few days ago. I guided an awesome group of military guys on what I knew was going to be a tough fishing trip. I told the guys that the first three hours of the six hour trip were going to be the toughest and that held true. For three straight hours we only boated one redfish. I told the guys to stay patient that we were going to get a little tide movement the last part of the trip. Once the tide barely picked up the fish started biting. We boated some really nice redfish, some big snapper, blackdrum, and sheepshead. Though the day was a grind, it wasn’t a total bust. I stuck with what I felt most comfortable doing and it paid off in the end. These guys really got the hang of Pensacola bay fishing and it was a pleasure to have them on the boat.
On a side note….If you ever decide you want to try and tackle a neap tide, I can give you a few pointers that may help. First, in Pensacola bay, two fish that are not effected by a bad tide are flounder and red snapper. I actually prefer deep water flounder fishing on a slack tide. The lack of current keeps your bait in the strike zone longer, and makes it much easier for the flounder to catch your bait. This also holds true when bay red snapper fishing. You want to keep your bait in the strike zone for as long as possible. If you are faced with a strong current, your bait will drift over the wreck too fast producing less bites. Another thing you can do is stick to the shallows! At some point in the day the flats fish will still feed on a bad tide. So, next time you are faced with a bad tide, take that time to try some new things that may be out of the ordinary for you. You may find it very rewarding.