Fisherman on the rocks with rough sea

How and When to Surf Fish During King Tides

King tides usually occur once or twice a year during new or full moons, when the moon, Earth, and sun are aligned and closest to the Earth. A type of spring tide, king tides have extreme high and low tides. Because of this, anglers need to plan fishing trips a little more carefully to benefit from the change in conditions.

King tides can be fairly easy to predict if you keep an eye on what’s happening in the skies above. Still, it would perhaps be wiser to consult the tidal tables like those produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Let’s examine the best time and methods that can be used when surf fishing during king tides.

How Long Do King Tides Last?

King tides present great opportunities for surf anglers. If the conditions are right, you will have about three days of great fishing. However, these extreme tides can sometimes result in turbulent water loaded with seaweed and a shoreline littered with the plant. This can make visibility extremely difficult for both you and the fish, who prefer to remain in deeper waters offshore.

When Is the Best Time to Surf Fish During King Tides?

Generally, the golden rule of fishing during the first and last hours of sunlight in the day applies; however, this depends on the specific conditions during king tides.

High Tide

High tide is an excellent time to fish. The fish are getting ready to feed and the extreme high tide will bring in baitfish, followed by larger predators, like kingfish, jacks, and tuna. In the winter months, the colder waters bring halibut and perch closer to shore.

However, the amount of seaweed in the water will determine how successful you will be.

Some anglers prefer to fish in the first and last hours of high tide as they are able to find eddies where the waters are slightly calmer. Ultimately it’s up to each individual’s preference.

Another determinant is the surfing conditions. If the surf is up, your fishing trip is off. Realistically, if the waves are higher than 8 feet, the chances of catching anything are slim.

Low Tide

At low tide, the fish will be further out, too; however, the chances are good that you would be free of surfers.

If you aren’t able to fish, low tide gives you an excellent opportunity to check out the shore for suitable places to fish. You can identify any rocky areas where fish might choose to linger and feed in a protected area or long, smooth rocks where they could feed when the tide comes in. Checking out the long sandy beaches will also help you plan your fishing experience better.

What Fishing Gear Would Be Needed?

A slightly longer rod of up to about 15 feet would be advisable for the more turbulent conditions of high king tide fishing. Along with this, a spinning reel that can hold at least 500 yards of braid is preferable if you are planning to make a large catch.

Added to these would be the usual jigging, feathering, baits, and other tackle. Many surf anglers prefer using squid and shrimp as bait, as that is what most species of fish are happy to eat. This applies to fishing in the extreme tides as well.

Again, much of the fishing tackle you use will be your personal preference, but if you would like to read a bit more about some specific tackle, read on.

 friends watch as waves crash in from Atlantic

Where is the Best Spot to Start Fishing?

Again this depends on whether you are on the beach at high or low tide.

At high tide, under king tide conditions, it would be best to find an elevated position with the space to be able to make a rapid retreat should the tide rise even higher.

During the approximately six hours of low tide, a comfortable position lower down on the beach would be adequate. Again, keep in mind that you must be able to pack up your tackle and move further back quickly.

Some Tips to Keep You Safe During King Tides

  • Make sure you have been down to the spot you’ll be fishing at before you venture down at king tide time. Try and ascertain how high the tide will reach at its height so that you don’t get taken by surprise.
  • Keep your vehicle on higher ground or if you are allowed to have it down on the beach, ensure that you can relocate it quickly and easily.
  • Take along a water-proof first aid kit.


Surf fishing during king tides offers an exciting and different experience for anglers if it is well-planned and conditions are favorable. Hopefully, this article will help you plan the best times to go fishing during king tides and how to choose the best gear and spot, hook, line, and s

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