Step 7 – Find moving water
Take your fishing hotspot map and use the below links to identify times when your fishing hotspots have moving water.
- Moving water is important because it carries along algae and small organisms that baitfish feed on. When moving water flows across rough bottom features such as points, reefs, etc, these baitfish can be swept along to where gamefish will often wait in ambush to strike as they pass by. Often on the down-current side of underwater points or points of land, eddies will be created where baitfish will be concentrated and gamefish will follow to feed.
- Rising tides can move fish into shallower areas while falling tides can pull prey out of the shallower areas into deeper channels where gamefish will feed. Some areas fish better on falling water and other areas fish better on rising water.
- Wind direction, duration and speed can mean a big difference to your fishing day. Not only does wind oxygenate the water, but prolonged winds blowing against the tide can often produce larger waves than normal and can slow tidal flushing. Prolonged winds blowing in the same direction of the tidal currents can speed up tidal flushing, strengthen current speed and better dislodge and concentrate baitfish for feeding gamefish.
- Increased flows can improve fishing by cooling and oxygenating the water and dislodging food, but when flows get too high, they can quickly alter conditions by decreasing water clarity and salinity.
- For shallower water hotspots such as flats or underwater grass beds, look for moving water during lowlight periods and when boat traffic is at a minimum.
- For deeper water hotspots, such as points and reefs, gamefish will often move shallower during low light periods and move deeper during the day.
- Tide Predictions Map (Eyes on the Bay) –
This feature allows you to check nearby tides and identify when the tidal currents are the strongest for rising or falling water. Usually, look for the times when there is the biggest difference between the high tide and the low tide. Lots of current = more dislodged baitfish for gamefish to feed on. Click on the teal-blue triangles () to view tidal predictions for each station.
- Maryland Tide Finder (Maryland Department of Natural Resources) –
This feature also allows you to check nearby tides and identify when the tidal currents are the strongest for rising or falling water. This site also includes moon data that shows how much of the moon is visible. Full moon (100% visible) or new moon (0% visible) periods will be the best times of the month when there is the biggest difference between the high tide and the low tide. Lots of current = more dislodged baitfish for gamefish to feed on.
- Wind and Wave Conditions (Chesapeake Bay Observing System [NOAA CBOS]) –
This site allows you to verify real-time wind speed, direction, wave height, current direction and velocity. This information will help you determine whether or not the winds will be impacting the local tides and tidal currents. Wave height can also be used to gauge safety conditions if you are boating. Note: there are several publicly available weather sites and apps available that will show wind direction and intensity.
- Marine Forecast (National Weather Service) -
This site shows current and forecasted wind, wave and weather conditions. Useful for understanding impact to local tidal currents and safety.
- Streamflow stations (United States Geological Survey [USGS]) –
While the site does show streamflow conditions throughout Maryland, focus on those sites nearest to your tidal fishing hotspots. The overview map shows general flow conditions, normal (green), above normal (blues/black) and below normal flows (orange/reds). Select the station nearest to your fishing hotspot and you will see specific flow conditions. Higher than normal flows may signal poor downstream water clarity. Lower than normal flows may signal clearer water.
You now have your own fishing map that shows potentially good and great fishing spots and the best times to fish! Since the peak times to visit these sites will vary, sort your hotspots according to peak times. This will help you spend less time moving place to place and more time fishing. Remember that shallow water hotspots will often be better during low light conditions. Move on to: Step 8 – Putting it all together