Experienced saltwater anglers know that the best times to fish are usually when the tide is moving either in or out, but savvy anglers don’t just head to the dock shore when the tide is slack. Although the fishing is tougher, being on the water then doesn’t have to be a total loss. Capt. Rick Percy of Reel Chance Charters in Beaufort has a few tips that will make your slack-tide fishing time more productive. 

“You often hear people say to fish the last of the outgoing tide and the first of the incoming, and that is good advice. The best fishing almost always happens at those times, but we catch plenty of fish during slack tides too,” Percy said.

It does take a change in strategy though.

One reason fish turn on when the water is running is because baitfish are moving. They have to move to fight the tide, and that predatory instinct to chase bait is strong enough to trigger bites whether the fish are truly hungry or not. Another reason is because the tide pushes baitfish toward the gamefish.

With that in mind, Percy said at slack tide, anglers need to keep their bait or lure moving.

“One thing you can do is impart a lot of movement into your bait. As long as the bait is moving, you have a good chance of getting a fish’s attention. It’s fine to cast and let it sit still when the current is running, because the current will give it action, but at slack tide, you must move it yourself,” he said.

Percy (803-535-6166) said anglers can also look for narrow passageways that connect two waterways.

“Even at what we consider slack tide, there is actually some movement, even if it isn’t obvious to us. The broader a waterway is, the more still it is at slack tide. A narrow body of water will have more movement, and a lot of gamefish will gather at these points because any baitfish in this area will still have to swim to fight the tide,” he said.

Anglers can also look at two different extremes, depending on whether the slack tide is just after high tide or just after low tide.

“A slack tide just after high tide will put baitfish into grass lines and really shallow areas that are only available to them at high tide, and the gamefish will key on those areas,” said Percy. “And on the flip side, the slack tide just after low tide will concentrate a lot of baitfish in the deepest holes you can find. Gamefish will check out those holes,” he said.