The Best Tides For A Successful Flounder Gigging Trip
A successful flounder gigging trip is highly dependent on tidal movement. If you're gigging for flounder, you have to understand how the tides affect fish behavior. If you can use the tides to your advantage, the chances of a successful flounder gigging trip will increase tremendously.
Quality flounder gigging equipment is important. As we will soon discuss, the tide levels can change the water clarities and conditions due to sediment washing in and out of the bay. This is where having good set of flounder gigging lights can make or break your trip. Another key point is having a flounder gig that can do more than just gig flounder. It has to be strong enough to be used as a push pole in the shallow gigging areas, but maintain a sharp point for sticking flounder all night long. Fast moving tides can require a strong flounder gig for pushing along, to keep the boat on track.
This weeks blog will discuss how to understand the rising and falling tides and how they effect flounder gigging. We’ll also briefly discuss times of the year that you can literally throw truck loads of flounder on the bank without a gig (we recommend only taking your lawfully allowed limit).
As you already know, flounder are elusive fish who bury themselves underneath the sand to blend in with their surroundings and feed on bait fish that swim over the top of them. As the tide comes in, the flounder and bait fish come in with it. As the tide goes out, the flounder are the first to leave so they are not left high and dry. With this in mind, we can expand on the effect of the different types of tides and how they effect a flounder’s behavior.
The Best Tides for Flounder Gigging
As the earth rotates, the Moon's gravitational forces pull on different parts of the planet. This can cause tidal swings, which can have a direct impact on flounder gigging at night. Flounder gigging can be great on any tide as long as the fisherman is aware of the cause and effect associated with each of the tides.
The technical term for a falling tide is an ebb tide. Once the tide has reached it's lowest point, it is now referred to as a low tide. In terms of flounder gigging, understanding these tides is important because as the tides moves out, fish move out with it so they are not left on the bank. Many flounder fishermen prefer a falling tide because they can gig flounder as the fish move out. However, a slow falling vs. fast falling tide can yield different results.
A fast falling tide is possibly worst case scenario, and it will make for a very difficult flounder gigging trip. Not because you can't find flounder, but because you either get the boat stuck on a sand bar or you can't see from the stirred up muddy water. As the tide falls, sediment from the marsh is mixed into the water which ends up making it really hard to see the bottom, where the flounder are laying. It's best to flounder gig near deeper pockets of water on a fast falling tide to keep from getting stranded and give you the most opportunities to see flounder coming out of the flats.
A slow falling tide will still have flounder moving out, but the sediment will be mixing with the water at a slower rate which in turn allows for clearer water. A falling tide is almost never associated with clear water unless you're on a sand beach with no mud flats. The best method to combat a falling tide is to make sure you have flounder gigging lights that can handle the muddy water.
How to combat a falling tide - If the tide is falling hard, we recommend gigging islands in the deeper parts of the bay rather than the shoreline. The beginning of a falling tide can make for really good flounder gigging, but gigging towards the end of a falling tide can give you a really hard time. The number of areas available to gig decrease, the likelihood your flounder boat ends up on the beach increases, and the stirred up muddy water which often times makes for bad water clarity decreases your chances of seeing a flounder. These islands with access to deeper waters typically fare the best in comparison to standard bay inlets.
The technical term for a rising tide is a flood tide. Once the tide has reached its highest point, it is referred to as a high tide. A rising tide corresponds with fresh water from the gulf moving into the bay. Naturally, a rising tide is associated with good water clarity while a falling tide is associated with bad water clarity. Because of this, a rising tide can be your bread and butter for finding flatties. As the tide comes in, the flounder are going to be coming in with it. The beginning of a rising tide may not be the best because fish take a little time to come in, but wait an hour or two and let the fish move in and flounder gigging can really heat up.
How to combat an abnormally high tide - There are many more locations to gig flounder as the tide comes in, and likewise the ability to move a boat around in the shallows becomes much easier. A rising tide can make for some of the best flounder gigging conditions one can ask for, but it's still important to be able to locate good flounder spots. If you're looking to learn more about finding good spots and more about flounder gigging in general, I'd recommend checking out our blog post on the complete guide to flounder gigging.
The Rare Jubilee
The Jubilee refers to the time and area of the bay at which there is an upwelling of oxygen poor bottom waters forcing bottom feeding fish and crustaceans ashore. These deep water pockets tend to collect plant matter that has been washed into the bays. As the plant matter decomposes, it provides food for microorganisms in the water. As these microorganisms grow and multiply, they consume tremendous amounts of oxygen, resulting in an oxygen-poor environment.
Due to the lack of oxygen, these “jubilee affected” fish and shellfish are unable to operate their muscles normally. They move very slowly and are reluctant to swim to even escape capture. However, fish rarely die during jubilees except to the enthusiasts who make the most of an easy fishing trip.
According to some locals who experienced the event in Mobile Bay, there are swarms of fish who are essentially pushing themselves out of the water. It would be very easy to fill up pickup beds full of shrimp, crabs, or flounder in an hour or two.
When and where is the next Jubilee going to occur? The Mobile Bay Jubilee in Alabama is one of the few annual recurring jubilee locations. It can still happen at other locations, but it is very sporadic. Jubilee’s most commonly occur during the month of August, in the morning hours, on an easterly wind, a rising tide, at the meeting of two water masses, and a full moon. They typically span about 15 miles. If you recognize these conditions in a place local to you, keep an eye out!
Check the Tide for Your Next Flounder Gigging Trip
How to check your current tide status?
We recommend utilizing the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s free website for tide predictions. This website is a government funded organization and the NOAA scientists study the skies and oceans. Find out more about today's tides and currents at the NOAA.