Use the Tide to Your Advantage to Catch More Bass

bass fishing, tidal bass fishing, full moon tide, full moon fishing, strawberry moon, coastal bass fishing
High tide can provide access to shallow backwaters.David A. Brown

Last week’s full moon boasted multiple talking points: it coincided with the summer solstice (June 20), and was the Algonquian Indians’ harvest-referencing “strawberry moon.” Definitely some cool points here, but for tidal bass fishermen, it’s largely an access thing.

From the California Delta, to Louisiana’s Red River, to Florida’s St. John’s River and up to the Potomac, bass living in waters influenced by daily ebb and flow typically feed best when the water’s flowing, and move with rising and falling water.

Each month’s strongest tides occur around the new and full moons, when the oceans feel the strongest lunar pull. Black bass can’t survive in salt water, but tides pushing into and falling out of coastal rivers raise and lower water levels many miles upstream.

So, what does that mean for bass anglers? In summary, full moon tides present the ultimate give-and-take scenario.

On one hand, higher tides push water far back into the inner reaches of backwater creeks, sloughs and bayous.

Anglers, consummate opportunists that they are, delight in the rare access to fertile backwater areas that seldom hold sufficient water for bass boats. Just be sure you monitor the tide stage and note the skinny spots on your approach. Outgoing tides have a way of trapping hapless anglers deep in remote areas with more mosquitos than cellular signal.

On the downside, excess water takes away some vision-related tactics such as pitching and flipping to shallow wood, rock, or grass clumps—targets that may disappear under super-high water.

Moreover, if stiff winds hold back the outgoing tide, certain low or falling water patterns may not occur. As they drain vegetation, outgoing tides pull baitfish and crawdads to the outer edges, where bass capitalize on the easy meals. But if winds push the water, you may not see much of this phase.

On the flip side, when winds remain calm and the outgoing cycle pulls the plug on all that moon tide water, you can expect some of the most intense feeding of the week. A smoking current will tumble forage with enticing vulnerability, but it will also have its way with lighter baits.

Upsize your jig and your Texas rig weights, and use heavier spinnerbaits, to control your presentations.