How To Read A Tide Chart (For Catching Fish AND Boating Safety)
Do you know how to read a tide chart?
Although it can be confusing at first, it’s actually really easy.
And it’s important both because of safety reasons (you don’t want to get your boat or kayak stranded or run aground) and for catching fish (some areas are better at specific parts of the tide).
In this video, you’re going to learn:
- What the numbers on a tide chart mean
- What the slopes on a tide chart mean
- And more
Let’s dive in!
How To Read A Tide Chart [VIDEO]
Below is a screenshot from SmartFishingTides.com that shows the tides for Egmont Key near St. Petersburg, FL.
On the y-axis, you can see that the numbers go from 0 to 3 feet.
The 0 is the tide chart datum, which represents the low astronomical mean water level.
This just means that it’s the typical low water level mark.
Anything below 0 means that it’s an abnormally low tide, and anything above 0 is how high above the average low tide the water level is at any given point in time.
On the x-axis, the numbers are the hours in a day, so you can tell what the tide will be doing at different times in the day.
Now let’s look at a tide chart from Hilton Head Island, South Carolina:
You can see that on the Gulf Coast of central Florida, the tide only swung from 0 to 2 feet today, but in Hilton Head Island, the tide swung from about 1 to 7 feet.
Tidal levels and changes are location-specific, but the good news is that the tide chart tools will do all of the calculations for you, so all you need to do is know how to read them (which you know now!).
Why Does Knowing The Tides Matter?
There are two main reasons why knowing the tides matters:
Reason #1: Safety
If you’re in a back creek in your boat fishing the outgoing tide, there’s a very real possibility that you could get stranded when the water goes all the way out.
So knowing when low tide is will help you avoid areas where you may get stranded.
Also, when you’re driving your boat over shallow water, knowing the tide is important so you know what areas to avoid.
Shallow bars or flats may be covered by just a few inches of water during some tides, so always be careful when navigating potentially dangerous areas.
Reason #2: Catching fish
Some areas are good at high tide, while others are good at low tide, and in order to know what the tide will be doing, you need to know how to read tide charts.
Also, fish usually like to eat when the current is moving.
You can tell how fast the current is moving by the slop of the line in the pictures above.
The greater the slope, the faster the current.
To catch more fish and stay safe on the water, knowing how to read tide charts is very important.
The 0 on the y-axis is the average low tide, while the numbers above it show how high the water is above the average low tide.
The numbers on the x-axis are the hours in a day.
And my favorite tool for getting tide charts online is SmartFishingTides.com.
Have any questions about reading tide charts?
Let me know down in the comments.
And if you know someone who needs to learn how to read them, please TAG or SHARE this with them!
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