Inshore saltwater fishing offers a myriad of opportunities to catch fish during all phases of the tide, and while serious anglers may log 20 hours a week and have just about every oyster bed, sand bar and navigable channel in their home waters memorized, fishermen who don’t get on the water as often and aren’t as familiar with the territory can get a quick education from technology and Mother Nature’s lunar fluctuations.
Just about every inshore gamefish will make short migrations throughout the tidal cycle. For anglers to stay on fish around the clock, knowledge of home waters is crucial, and as far as a learning experience, a lunar low or negative tide is the best time to be on the water.
Greg Holmes of Fish Skinny Charters out of Little River is a firm believer in scouting on a low tide.
“On low tides, everything is out in the open for us to see,” said Holmes (843-241-0594). “You must know where the water collects on low tide and what types of structure will flood on higher tides.”
Holmes stalks his prey in a flats boat engineered to slide into super skinny waters. His primary target species are redfish and speckled trout, both of which make a living off oyster beds and grassy flats.
“Low tides will expose places that will become prime places to fish over during periods of higher water,” he said.
Furthermore, most fish will not travel very far during the tidal changes, so the places they go on low water won’t be too far away from where they live on the high end of the tide. Therefore, understanding where the creeks collect on low tide will become ideal places to find fish congregating before the tide refreshes.
In addition to seeing the low-water places in person, Holmes will use remote imagery to identify collector creeks, deep pockets and other features.
“Google Earth is a very valuable resource for me, especially when I am looking at a new place I have never fished much before,” he said.
Google Earth allows users to view the marsh from above over a half-dozen years of images and hopefully, some of those images will be from a period of low tide. While sand and silt is moved on a regular basis, the oyster bars and hard bottoms that fish remain intact and are quite visible on low tide shots.
Holmes studies aerial views of the marsh to identify more features than just oyster mounds and points.
“From above, you can see the entire network of creeks and water courses. When I target redfish at low tide, I like to find places where several creeks drain in one place and still show water on low tide,” he says.
Anglers who spend all of their time in the backcountry and in shallower places need to know all of the ins and outs of inshore waters. Knowing where the submerged oyster bars lie and where the small deep channels snake through the marsh are critical.
A thorough study of the inshore playground during low tides will further educate the inshore enthusiast of the waters they fish and help put more fish in the boat.