In my opinion, the challenge that comes with fly-fishing for striped bass is what makes them such an addictive species to target. Once hooked, they pull extremely hard, which makes them quite a gamey combatant. They are available to anglers up and down nearly the entire East Coast as well as the West Coast’s San Francisco Bay and delta region. Their range spreads far and wide, since they can travel nearly one hundred miles in a single day. It is for this reason that saltwater fly-anglers love the game of hide-and-seek that striped bass seem to be so good at.
I am here to tell you that the key to becoming a successful striped bass angler is to fish what I call the tidal clock. Fishing the tidal clock is something that most professional fishing guides worth their salt practice day in and day out. While they may not talk about it publicly, believe me, they use it every day they hit the salt.
Learn the Tides
Tides repeat themselves twice a day over a 24-hour period. Each tide runs in a 12-hour cycle. It starts with the outgoing tide, which lasts for six hours. After that you have about a 45-minute to one-hour period of slack water. Then, after this slack period, the tide changes and the incoming tide begins and will last for the next six hours. After six hours of incoming water, another slack period follows, and then the entire cycle repeats itself. When detailing tides, we break the 12-hour cycle into six two-hour tidal stages. We start with the first two hours of the high outgoing tide. We call this stage the high out. The high out is followed by the next two-hour stage, which we call the middle out. The middle out is then followed by the last two hours of the outgoing tide, which we call the low out. Then the tide drops out and a period of slack water ensues until the incoming tide begins to roll in. The first two hours of the incoming tide is called the low in. The low in is followed by the middle of the incoming, which we call the middle in. The middle in is followed by the last of the incoming, which we term high in or flood tide. After that we get a slack period again for up to one hour before the process repeats itself all over again and the tide begins to recede again.