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Thread: How to read tide tables

  1. #1

    Default How to read tide tables

    I know that some of the success when fishing the bays and the surf is based on the tidal movement. I looked at the tide chart for Orange County (i.e. Newport Bay Entrance, Newport Pier, Huntington Harbor, etc.), but I have no clue what I am looking at.

    Can someone explain to me what I should be looking for? And what are "ideal" tide conditions that I should be looking for. I think I missed some good action couple days ago from the full moon.

    I am using and came up with this:

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Hesperia, Ca


    Takes some looking and thinking, but you will get it.....

    That wavy or curved line would be what you would see if you looked at a cross section of the bay...
    Water going up & water going down...

    You see a dark (horizontal) line at 5 ft (high average) and red line at 0 ft (low average)..
    Now if you look you will see a dot at High & Low with a time above or below that DOT....
    That is PEAK high or Low tide, TIMES....

    Looking further you see some 'curved' lines ( that represents the water going up & down) going above 5ft and some dipping below 0 ft...
    Those are higher or lower then the average..

    Now on the curved line, incoming starts when the line moves UP.. When it peaks is slack tide, and starts down is is an Outgoing tide...
    At the bottom & top is slack tide (no movement).....

    Best fishing is normally 2+ hrs before to 2 hrs after Incoming tide..
    As the water level gets higher on an incoming tide it exposes food, crabs, worms etc into the water, fish start to move up shallow and EAT... LOL

    Some curved lines dont move much so tide is pretty small..
    Some lines move a LOT, Lot of water coming in or out. (full moon) Lunar phases control the tide with gravity effect from the moon....

    I have seen low -(minus) 2 ft, to a high 7 ft at NPH, thats 9 Ft of water level change!!!!!!!!!! Over the walls on Balboa Isl...
    can hardly get across the main channels its like a fast moving river......... But the fishing was spectacular !!!!!!

    Last edited by Nessie Hunter; 04-05-2010 at 11:47 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Broad Beach, California


    I'll add to Frank's post.......

    I like fishing BOTH the incoming tide as well as the outgoing tide.... usually I like starting a hour before high tide and then fish right thru until an hour after... others prefer a slightly different schedule, but thats usually mine.

    I also like to fish the days with the highest amount of variance between the low and high tides and if that variance is in close proximety in terms of the time of day.... even better. But try to fish the days where there's a lot of water movement in terms of high and low tide.

    Using the same tide chart as shown above... MONDAY has the biggest swing in terms of variance between high and low tides.... a high of 6.1 at 7:49am all the way down to a -0.9 at 3:15PM..... so while theres a nice variance in high and low tides, the times are not ideal (close together) ... but still a good day to fish IMO.

    In addition, I look for days when high tide occurs near sunrise..... when that's the case, Ill start fishing about an hour before high tide in the "grey light".... and fish right on thru the sunrise.... or Ill do the same with a sunset high tide and fish until very little light remains.

    I've had some great days of fishing when I've fished "grey light"..... just use a weather chart for sunrise & sunset times along with your tide chart to gather all the info... the closer a peak high tide occurs in relation to sunrise or sunset... the better IMO!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Work in Whittier, Live in


    Nice site but a bit overwhelming! I prefer to use this site it give you the tide information by the day. Like Fisherman57 and Nessie stated, try and fish both the incomming and out going tides....I prefer to fish 2 hrs before until 2 hrs after. Look for the days and times with the most tidal movement and remember to cast up current and bring the lure back with the current....most the fish will be facing up current looking for an easy meal.


  5. #5


    Wow, I can't thank you guys enough for the information.

    Sonarbp, thanks for that website. It is much easier on the eyes.

    Hopefully this knowledge will better prepare me for my next trip.

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