Are King Tides Good for Fishing?

Are king tides good for fishing? The last set of king tides for 2020 are set to take place from December 13th-15th. If you’re planning to hit the surf during this three-day stretch, here are a few things to note.

King Tides 2021
Crisp Fall Sunset During a King Tide in 2020

What Are King Tides?

I was going to do my best to explain this in a sophisticated manner. I planned on educating myself a little bit and spending an hour or so learning more about king tides. But, I got “sucked in” and found much better resources than myself for this. Tides are actually quite interesting and this video by “Crash Course” does a really good job of explaining tidal phases as well as king tides.

Basically, king tides occur when the earth, the sun, and the moon are aligned. From my understanding, when the sun and the moon are aligned and closest to the earth, we get “king tides”. The result, extreme high tides, and extreme low tides. This is because the gravitational pull is essentially “stretching” the earth. Seawater is then pulled in an upward manner causing higher tides in some areas and lower tides in others.

In the image below, imagine the sun and moon inline with the earth. This image portrays two high tides and two low tides during one rotation of the earth (or one day). Since the moon and sun are inline in this example, the water is being pulled up and toward them causing high tides on opposite sides of the earth and low tides the same. If the earth rotates, you’ll find yourself rotating through two sets of high tides and two sets of low tides. Anyways, the video does a much better job of explaining, so, I’d recommend watching it.

The inner sphere is earth while the external oval is the forced-shape of water (and earth to an extent) caused by the gravitational pulls of the sun and moon.

What to Expect with King Tides?

King tides will result in extreme highs and extreme lows so it’s important to be aware of what this might cause. Any time there’s more water movement than usual, the potential for churned up water and seaweed-covered shorelines increases. There’s a good chance the waters might become a little more weedy than usual, but hopefully not too much. During the winter months, we can typically expect less seaweed-covered shoreline days in general, so let’s hope for the best.

High tides have a reputation and serious potential to bring in baitfish and therefore bring in bigger fish. If the seaweed stays at bay, this could very well turn on the bite. With the winter water temps, this could be a really solid opportunity to target perch and halibut.

Fishing to the King Tides

So, while the general theory of fishing the rising tide (as it might bring in baitfish) applies, fishing to the tidal height is usually a better bet in my opinion. By this, I mean you should fish spots according to optimal tidal heights per spot. For example, I’ve got a couple of spots that have permanent structure. From past experience, I know some specific spots that hold fish at certain sets of tidal heights.

Let’s say the optimal tidal height for my spot is between -1ft and 2 ft. Well, given the extreme low tides ahead, I might want to go give that spot a try. Why? Because the structure that I like out there will be within reach. If my spot had structure that might be perfectly submerged at a 5-6ft tidal height, I’d want to fish the incoming through the peak.

Take note of your spots and start to recognize any permanent structure. It plays a key role in surf fishing during the winter months.

A Chance to See the Unseen

Another opportunity that king tides bring is the chance to scope out a spot. You might really like a spot or really want to get familiar with a spot. Arrive just before the extreme low tide and take note of any permanent structure that might be there. Maybe even take some photos so you have them for reference on a later date.

So, while the extreme high tides can be a sight to see in and of themselves, these king tides bring about more opportunity for surf fishermen than you might think. Go try it out! At the very least, it’ll be a new and different-looking experience. Before you go out, make sure you’ve got all the gear and tackle you need, and don’t forget to subscribe below.


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