The great tides

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By Jimmy Bishop

When is the best time for fishing? Is it on the spring tide or the neap tide?

The best time for fishing is on either tide if a person knows where to fish and what kind of fish to fish for.

Hint: watch the birds. When you see birds on a sand bar or points of oyster bars, that’s the place to fish. The reason is the bird dropping draw microorganisms, and the microorganisms feed on the bird droppings, the microorganisms draw larger sea creatures and so on. The large speckled trout are attracted to the shiners, razor-bellies, and other small fish of which the trout, redfish, and other larger fish feed on. That’s the secret of good fishing.

The best time to pick up oysters in the gaps between the oyster bars is on the spring tide when the tide goes the lowest.

Since the beginning of time people along the coast line have noticed that oceans have a greater tidal range at the time of the full moon and new moon. This is when the moon and sun are either together in the sky or are on opposite sides of the heavens.

Higher tides occur during these moon phases because the sun also exerts a gravitational pull on our oceans, although it is only 46 percent as strong as the moon's. When the gravitational effects of the sun and the moon combine, we get spring tides, which have nothing to do with the season of spring. The term refers to the action of the seas springing out and then springing back. These are times of high tides and low tides.

A week later, during either of the two quarter moon phases, when the sun and moon are at right angles to each other and their tidal influences partially cancel each other out, neap tides occur and the tidal range is minimal. In fact, because the oceans take a bit of time to catch up to the geometry of the moon, spring and neap tides usually occur about a day after the respective lunar cycles or about two weeks apart.

Note: Spring tides on the new moon or full moon, when the wind is out of the south, cause the tides to rise extra high in the Gulf of Mexico because the wind drives the tide in at a higher mean high water mark.

Spring Tidesee

When, there is a full moon or new moon, the gravitational pull of the moon and sun are combined. At these times the high tides are very high and the low tides are very low. This is known as a spring high tide, and a spring low tide. Spring tides are especially strong tides. They occur when the earth, the sun, and the moon are in a line. The gravitational forces of the moon and the sun both contribute to the tides. Spring tides occur during the full moon and the new moon.

Neap Tidesee

On the dark of the moon quarter phases, the sun and moon work at right angles, causing the bulges to cancel each other. The result is the tides don’t come as high or go as low as the spring tides. These tides are known as a neap tide. They occur when the gravitational forces of the moon and the sun are perpendicular to one another (with respect to the earth). Neap tides occur during quarter moons.

Where does the water go when the tide is low tide? Answer: on the other side of the earth.

Jimmy Bishop is a Cedar Key native and now lives in Volusia County. He can be reached at jimmywbishop@gmail.com.