The Best Tides For A Successful Flounder Gigging Trip
If you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance you’re either subscribed to our blog or your doing your research for your next flounder gigging trip. We hope it’s both! One of the most important aspects of flounder gigging you should be aware of, more important than your flounder gig, lights, boats, etc. is the tide levels throughout the day. 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 simplest explanation is as the tides moves out, fish move out with it so they are not left on the bank. 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. A slowly falling tide will still have flounder moving out, but you may be able to catch some stragglers before they’re all gone.
How to combat this scenario - If the tide is falling hard, we recommend gigging islands in the deeper parts of the bay rather than the shoreline. You’re going to have a hard time regardless because of the stirred up water from the falling tide along with the fish moving out, but this will help increase your chances.
When you are planning your flounder gigging trips, make sure you are studying the tides and identifying the times at which the tide switches from a falling tide to a rising tide. This is going to be your bread and butter for gigging some flatties. As the tide comes in, the flounder are going to be coming in with it. Along with a high tide yielding more flounder, it also makes it much easier to get around in your boat.
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? Mobile Bay 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!
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. You can find it here.