Reading Tide Tables

Discussion in 'Saltwater' started by Mike Etgen, Jan 9, 2005.

  1. Mike Etgen Not Quite A Luddite, But Can See One From Here

    Posts: 1,433
    Port Orchard, Washington, USA.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Please excuse the ignorance of this question, but it's time for me to come out of the closet and admit I'm not certain what that last number means under the "Tides" information you see in the newspapers. :confused:


    1st High 5:15 AM 13.0
    1st Low 7:07 AM 8.8
    2nd High 2:29 PM 12.2
    2nd Low 10:14 PM -3.5

    I've made an educated guess that the last number repesents feet above or below some average (or mean) value for sea level, so in the above case would guess the second low tide is a VERY low tide compared to the first.

    Am I close to right or totally off? I'd like to better understand what I'm looking at when deciding whether and when to head out. :hmmm:

    Thanks as always.
  2. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,812
    Dillon, Mt
    Ratings: +1,727 / 0
    This answer is coming out of another dummy. It means that that is what the water level is going to be at that time. Instead of reading what is written in the paper just get one of those tide tables. I use this one Or you can pick up a tide book at most stores.

  3. Bob Triggs Your Preferred Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishing Guide

    Posts: 4,037
    Olympic Peninsula
    Ratings: +711 / 0
    Yes Mike, below "mean low water" (average as per soundings datum).

    One thing to keep in mind about days with minus and plus tides, like when you have a "12.2' high tide followed by a -3.5' low tide"; that means there is a lot of water moving for a longer than normal period of time. So it should create more current situations for fishing. I especially like the incoming higher than normal tide following a minus or low-low tide. Combine that with high tide scheduled at sunset, and I am a very happy camper. But dont get stuck with the "high tide mentalty". You should fish at every time of tide, to realy learn an area, and to find fish in situations that you would not normally expect them to be in.
  4. Jim Kerr Active Member

    Posts: 708
    Forks Wa
    Ratings: +148 / 0
    Yea Mike you got it. I like to think of it like this, zero represents the average Low water for the year. So 12 is twelve feet above, -2 is two feet below. In the estuaries I really don't care much if it is rising or falling, I just concern myself with the change. That is how many feet between high and low. Some spots fish better on a huge change, others like a smaller one. Keep you eyes open for any situation that will make a bunch of bait fish vunerable all at once (a negitive low that completly drains a grass bed along a drop off. A high tide that stands the kelp up and leaves bait exposed)
    I agree with Bob, make the most of every stage of the tide. On a big change in summer you can find time to hook some trout or coho, rake some crabs and dig clams, oh yea, then dink some beers.
  5. Roger Stephens Active Member

    Posts: 1,209
    Ratings: +328 / 0
    It is hard to beat fishing around a morning low tide on a cloudy,windless day.
    But then, the beauty of fly fishing on the Sound is that every day is usually a little different because of tide, weather, and fish movement.

  6. kodiaksalmon Jeff B.

    Posts: 946
    Muskie country!
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    I love fishing outgoing and low tide.

    Take care all,
  7. wet line New Member

    Posts: 2,313
    Burien, WA, King.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Another thing to consider is where the time and tide are being determined. For Puget Sound the reference is Seattle. By the time the ebb or flow starts in the south sound it could be as much as an hour difference and the amount of rise or fall will also be different.

    Most tide books will have a table showing the compensation and will break down tidal movement by general regions.