Sea fishing is dictated by one major factor every 6 hours, and that is the tide. Remember the old saying “time and tide will wait for no man” well its true and you will find out how it will control your angling.

There are no hard and fast rules, and different fishing marks will perform for different species at differing tidal states. A sound rule of thumb is if you are new to a mark and you are trying to find out the best fishing time is start fishing 2 hours before the high tide and fish for 1 hour down. If this proves unsuccessful try different tidal states and conditions until you start to catch fish.

The tidal states

The tide is the fall and rise of the sea, caused by the gravitational pull of the sun and primarily the moon. Other factors including: wind strength, wind direction and air pressure will effect the tide and create larger or small tides than predicated.

Most areas around the UK you will get 2 high tides and 2 low tides each day (some areas get double tides and some tides will miss the day and you will only get 3 tides). About every 2 weeks you will get a very high and low set of tides. This happens on a new and full moon when the sun and the moon will be pulling in the same direction creating a massive pull on the earths seas, known as Spring tides. These high tides reach peaks at the spring and autumn equinoxes. In Cornwall you will get about an 8 meter tide during this period.

Between the spring tides you get a much small range of tides called neaps. The tides build and fall towards neaps and springs, creating a gradual increase and decrease in tidal water movement.

Generally the tide takes 6 hours to flood (rise) and 6 hours to ebb (fall) with a period between the two states called slack water. This is where very little water moves. You need to add a bit of time for slack water which makes the tide become a little later each day.

Tidal abbreviations

High water spring – HWS
High water neaps – HWN
Low water springs – LWS
Low water neaps – LWN

British summer time – BST
Greenwich mean time – GMT
Tides are published in many places, be sure to check if the time of the tide is BST or GMT. You might also have to add time or deduct time. There is generally a table so you can adjust the local time of your tide against the published time. Have a good look at your local tide tables and check you are reading them correctly.

Here is a link to another post I made back in the summer about rip tides; it’s worth a look!!