Spawning bass are already difficult enough, what with shallow water and their procreation priority making the fish profoundly nervous. But add in the daily depth fluctuations of a tidal habitat and you’ll need to factor the area’s ebb and flow into your calculations of approach, distance and presentation.
First consider that bass will establish their nests in spots that retain sufficient depth through mean low tide, so note the low-water marks on shoreline wood, rip rap, docks and seawalls. In the sprawling California Delta, vast stands of tules (tall, wispy vegetation) provides much of the spawning habitat, so anglers note the mud line on stalks as a depth gauge.
Also, note that the fish’s mood will change significantly with depth and water clarity – two key tenets of visibility. You’ll enjoy better targeting accuracy on lower water stages, but like anywhere, visibility equals spooky bass, so adjust your distance according to tide stage. Conversely, when the tide rises, a more relaxed fish may be harder to see. On lower stages, flipping jigs and Texas-rigged plastics to visible targets is the norm, while pitching weightless Senkos into likely areas can be deadly during high water.
No doubt, the tidal environment adds another level of challenge to an already challenging scenario, but this water movement always delivers its benefits. Specifically, the incoming water is typically more moderate in temperature and more oxygenated, so the fish definitely feel the stimulus. But even for the stubborn ones that don’t want to eat, rising tides push waves of baitfish, including the nest-raiding bluegill whose presence fires up largemouth aggression. Through something with bluegill coloration and it’s likely to meet with bad intentions.