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Sam

How To Best Fish Tidal Rivers?

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OK, I need your help regarding tidal rivers.

How many hours before and after the high and low tides are the best?

I thought it was 2 hours after high tide and 1 hour before low tide.

Can anyone give me some input on this?

Thanks.

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I find the fishing to be most productive during the periods of incoming, high tide, and outgoing tide. IMO the only real unproductive times would be during dead low tide or a slack tide.

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That's about it.  So long as the water is moving, it's worth fishing.  So, the key to a productive day, is to get out the tidal charts and (now this is important) plot out the high/low tides up and down the river.  Then, just follow the tides.  

For example, if you discover fishing is best on an incoming tide, start near the mouth of the river.  When it's getting close to high tide, motor up the river to a spot that will give you another 45 mins or more of incoming tide.  Repeat.   :D

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Thanks for the info.

You guys are the best.

Sam

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I'm not an expert in fishing tidal waters, but since moving to Northern VA I've spent a lot of time and thought, as well as research on the subject. I fish the Rappahannock and the creek arms of the Potomac. Sometimes I'll fish the main river if the wind isn't too gusty. The posts above are correct answers, but it is a little more complicated in that you want to fish different places on the river depending on tide stage. Following are my observations from the last nine months fishing tidal water at least twice a month.

First, as the tide is rising you'll note that current in the river generally does not reverse course unless you are fairly close to the mouth of the river. The current generally slows, sometimes almost to a halt, as the tidal influence has its effect. I can't prove it, but I'll bet there is also a differential between what is observed at the surface, and what is happening 10, 20, 30 foot under the surface. There may be particular times at particular places where the surface is still, but the subsurface water is moving at a faster speed. At any rate, when the tide is rising the fish are more likely to spread out and search for prey, as they do not need to shelter themselves from the current as they will during the falling tide. Also, as the shoreline fills with water they are likely to be close to the bank either looking for critters caught by the rising water, or drawn to baitfish that are looking for critters caught by the rising water. This is also a good time to fish any weed beds where the high tide surpasses the height of the weeds by a foot or two.

Immediately after high tide, as the tide begins receeding, I have consistently noted a significant increase in surface fish activity. These are not necessarily, and in most cases are not, bass--but catfish, gar, shad or herring--but it does tell you that this is a good time to have a lure in the water. You will note that the current will pick up substantially--bass will respond by positioning themselves in areas that are sheltered from the current, but will be in a position to ambush prey that is swept by in the current. I've personnaly had a lot of luck near pilings, but I'll bet that any object that obstructs the current will do.

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Vekol,

Thanks a million.  I will use your and everyone else's information to plan a strategy.

Thanks again.

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In the CA Delta, a bass fishing mecca, I like to fish incoming or outgoing tide right along the tules or rip rap and over grass beds.  You don't want absolute low or high tide because the water doesn't move.  The moving water stirs up sediment and the little critters on the bottom which attracts the smaller baitfish, which attracts the bass.  Also, pay attention to wind direction.  Fish the side of the bank that the wind is blowing to. The wind tends to push the bait fish up against the bank and they get stacked up there.  That's when the bass started tearing them up.

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"In the CA Delta, a bass fishing mecca, I like to fish incoming or outgoing tide right along the tules or rip rap and over grass beds. "

Fishing over grass is key in the tidal Potomac as well. I would think the James and Chick are somewhat similar, although I haven't fished those waters (yet). Today my son and I did good on fishing the transition zone between the sand bottom and the grass beds, where the vegetation is sparser and there is more water between them and the surface.

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