, Port Arthur, Texas

May 1, 2013

OUTDOORS COLUMN: Understanding local tides crucial

Chester Moore, Jr.
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — Do you remember Ed Holder?

    He was the outdoors editor for this publication for decades before I came along and had an incredibly rich knowledge of all things outdoors.

    He mentored me for a number of years and one of the first things he did was give me an understanding of tides and how important they are to local fishing conditions.

    As you probably know, tides are the periodic rise and fall of all ocean waters caused by gravitational forces from the moon and sun.

    Holder said, the easiest way to understand how tidal movements work is to compare them to a wave.

    “In essence, a tide is a large, slow-moving wave that starts in the ocean, moves through a pass, and ends up in the back of a bay or upland into a river system.”  

    “Moving on but keeping with the idea of the tide as a wave, it’s very important for anglers to understand that tides are weaker at point’s farther inland than out in the Gulf or nearby.”

    The strongest tide will be near the Gulf and the weakest will be far into the bay or river, he explained.

    It is important for anglers to look at the strength of tides on charts. For example, if a tide is only calculated to move six inches at the end of the Sabine Jetties, anglers fishing in the upper reaches of Sabine Lake or in the Bessie Heights Marsh area probably won’t see much of a movement.

     Just as the actual tidal force weakens somewhat, the peak of the tidal movement will be delayed traveling north from the Gulf.

    For Mesquite Point (Pleasure Island at Causeway) you can add 56 minutes. At the Pleasure Island Marine add 1 hour, 30 minutes. For Stewt’s Island add two hours.

    These are the numbers Holder showed me back in 1997 and they are pretty accurate , but you always have to consider other factors.

     Remember, wind influences waves, and tides are no different.”


    Big south winds common in spring push more water toward shore.

    If you have only a six inch tide drop but you have had a week of 25 mile per hour plus south wind you may have no actual drop below normal levels. Wind can affect the levels that much. They can of course also add much heighth to a high tide.

    For local fishing here are a few tide based tips to keep in mind for various species and locations.

1.    At the jetties the best fishing on the channel side is typically during an outgoing tide and on the Gulf side it is better coming in.

2.    Flounder fishing from spring through early fall is typically better on an incoming tide.

3.    Bass fishing in our marshes peaks on outgoing tides as the fish are move from small lakes and sloughs.

4.    Big late summer/early fall tides spark bull redfish to bite.

5.    Slack tides always produce slow fishing but anglers fishing around the channel can score on good catches when ships pull water and cause current to move. This is especially true for flounder.

(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI and watch his WebTV series online at Follow him on Twitter @flexfishing.)