When it comes to finding fish, no matter where you are on the globe, Dave Tilley has one piece of advice: look for convergence zones. These are places where at least two variables meet, and they are magnets for fish.
Tilley lives in Carolina Beach, N.C., and runs charters on the Wild Rover III. He also operates SaltwaterCentral.com and helps other anglers find promising fishing areas wherever they’re fishing. Thanks to the ever-changing weather, currents, winds and other factors, convergence zones change constantly, especially in the deep blue sea.
“If you think about it, people like convergence zones, too,” Tilley said. “When I would go to my son’s lacrosse games, I wanted to be in a place that offered a good view of the field and was in the shade. Shade is a convergence zone — it’s where the sunlight meets an obstacle that creates shade. If I could find an area like that pretty close to the hot dog stand, that was even better.”
Those are the types of areas that fish look for constantly.
“Fish spend their whole lives looking for convergence zones,” Tilley said. “They want to find the most-comfortable temperatures, and they want to be near food. Where two currents meet, where two temperature extremes collide, where wind comes in at different temperatures or speeds, where high salt content meets low salt content — these are all convergence zones. And those zones offer fish options to find what’s most preferable to them.”
Pare down spots
For offshore anglers, especially those targeting pelagic species, current breaks, temperature breaks and depth changes combine to produce areas most likely to gather fish in big numbers. Long ago, predicting these factors was little more than a guessing game. These days, the internet and a host of weather-related forecasts offer anglers the opportunity to narrow down where fish-holding convergence zones are most likely to occur.
Tilley’s website is full of tools that offer mapping services showing where convergence zones are from one day to the next. It helps anglers find current and temperature breaks, along with wind models and other factors that come into play when searching for convergence zones that concentrate fish.
He also offers Fish Here maps for a small fee. Anglers share the place from which they are launching and the date they’re fishing. The Fish Here map tallies the information, then predicts where convergence zones will be. It’s a huge time and fuel saver for anglers and saves them a lot of headaches. It’s time consuming to put all the factors together, so taking time and guesswork out of it is very well worth it to many anglers.
Convergence zones don’t just occur offshore, and finding them doesn’t always require computer software or weather models. Anglers also find productive areas like these inshore. Current seams are often visible, especially when wearing polarized sunglasses. Where shade meets full sunlight, shallow water meets deep water, narrow passageways meet open water — these are all visible clues on which inshore anglers should key in.
More than temps
Anglers fishing the surf will also catch more fish if they concentrate their efforts on convergence zones. Where the waves crash, the lulls between crashes, and the white foam meeting the beach are all examples. Observing how the waves break and finding areas where waves of two slightly different angles meet are also keys to knowing where to cast.
One of the most-common questions anglers ask Tilley concerns the ideal temperatures for certain species of fish.
“And the answer is, there isn’t an ideal temperature for each species,” he said. “There is certainly an ideal range that they’d like to be in, and they are constantly looking for that range. But factors other than temperature also come into play. Wind speeds, food sources, current speeds, depth changes, moon phases — they are all pieces of the puzzle.
“We’ve all heard the saying that 90% of the fish are found in 10% of the water. Well, a big portion of those fish are constantly bumping up against convergence zones. So as long as you’re spending a good chunk of your time fishing convergence zones, you’ve eliminated a lot of unproductive water right away. Convergence zones — whether offshore, nearshore, inshore or in the surf zone — make up a big chunk of that 10% of the water that most of the fish are in.”
JOIN THE CLUB, get unlimited access for $2.99/month
Become the most informed Sportsman you know, with a membership to the Carolina Sportsman Magazine and CarolinaSportsman.com.