Tides and Currents

tide rip

Tides and currents are two factors that have an enormous impact on saltwater and brackish water fishing. Tides and currents occur throughout the Mid Atlantic, affecting bodies of water of every size and configuration.


Tides are complex movements of water that involve hundreds of variables. The most important element of tides is the movement of the moon around the Earth. The moon's gravity pulls water from place to place as it circles the planet. Twice each day, tides rise and fall.

In some areas, tide rips occur when tidal flows collide obstructions such as land or man-made objects.


Currents are caused by gravity, tides or the motion of bodies of water. In tidal water, currents may be nearly in phase with tides or may be offset by a considerable amount.

Saltwater - Freshwater Collisions

Often two or more bodies of water having different salinity levels collide. Although some mixing occurs, a certain amount of stratification (layering) may also occur. On the surface this may be very confusing to boaters and fishermen. Saltwater is heavier and tends to sink when it meets a body of freshwater. The result can make surface waters appear to be running "out" when in fact the tide is rising.

Temperature Breaks

Temperature breaks occur when 2 currents collide. In the open ocean, this often results in eddies. These isolated bodies of water spin off from a parent current, sometimes travelling some distance before disbanding.

Wind Currents

As wind move over a body of water, waves are created. This causes water on the surface to move in the direction of the wind. In some situations, wind blowing across a small waterway can cause surface waters to move in a circle or have an upwelling affect. Winds and the currents that result can have impacts on fishing.

Near shore and in coastal bays, water that is driven by the wind must be displaced, so the water from the below moves in to fill the void. This process can impact water temperature, clarity, and other factors.