Effect of tides on bait balls
Does the tides ( depending on strength ) have the tendency to push or concentrate bait balls in or around structure on the initial flood ? What then happens to the same bait balls at slack tide , do they dissipate?
I don't believe tides affect bait balls all that much, with the exception of a bait ball in open water drifting with the tide. Quite often, the bait ball is only near the surface for a minute or two. You will see birds circling and diving on the bait for a short time, then they dissipate as the bait goes deep or dissipates.
Originally Posted by Micky_Ireland
When the opportunity presents itself, and you are in a position to take advantage of it, it is some of the hottest action you can imagine. We were fortunate enough last month to be in the area when a group of humpbacks moved in working a huge school of herring. The screen on the fishfinder went solid red from 45 - 180 feet for well over an hour. Besides the awesome show the whales put on while bubble net feeding (at one point a bit closer than I was comfortable with), it was the best silver bite we've ever seen!
I'll go the other way, and say the tides have a huge effect. At least in shallower water with balls of needlefish (Pacific sand lance), it's all about the tides. The balls tend to come shallower on the flood and drop into deeper water on the ebb, and anywhere an eddy forms behind obstructions on the shoreline or reefs, the balls tend to get hung up there on the flood and disperse on the ebb. You're standing in tall clover when you can find those cuts in reefs or kelp beds where bait balls converge on the ebb, then flow through on the flood. Lotta hungry mouths know EXACTLY where to be and when for the balls that come pushing through.
If you're a deep water troller rather than a shallow water troller and caster, yeah, don't worry about the tides. But watch them closely in waters less than about 45-50 depth.
Very good points BrownBear, I should have qualified my remarks. I mostly fish open water areas in depths of 200+ feet.