It’s Time for Saltwater Fishing!

Anyone who loves the Emerald Coast agrees on one thing: this is boaters’ paradise!

To take it one step further, it is pure nirvana for active anglers who find the lure of the turquoise waters and the wealth of species totally captivating!

If you’re new to the NW Florida or are interested in learning more about offshore fishing, you’ve come to the right place. Emerald Coast Marine Group represents several of the leading fishing brands in the business, along with representing all the “bells and whistles” you could ever want to maximize your fishing adventures! Our sales and parts department teams are pleased to answer your questions and hook you up with the right products and equipment for your lifestyle and budget! And, if you’re unsure about how to get started, give us a call and we’re happy to provide a tour of the facilities and answer your boating and fishing questions.

To start the conversation, here’s a brief recap from our friends at Discover Boating who provide a great overview on times, tides and currents and light levels, all important considerations when planning your saltwater recreation adventure.

Enjoy the read … and let us know when you’re ready to rev up the fun!

The best time to go fishing can vary quite a bit, especially depending on if you’re saltwater fishing or freshwater fishing (and whichever type of fishing you enjoy most, be sure to read Fishing Tips: Freshwater & Saltwater Fish to gain some insight). Before we dig into the details, however, we can make one blanket statement: fish just about everywhere are almost always active at sunrise and sunset. These periods of changing light levels trigger feeding behavior in all kinds of predatory fish.

Best Time for Saltwater Fishing

Saltwater fishing will be affected by countless variables, but the major ones are:

  • Weather
  • Tides and Currents
  • Light Levels


The weather impacts saltwater fishing in many ways. Wind is a major factor since it can drive bait up onto a shoreline, create lots of ambient noise water-noise (which helps you remain stealthy), or make some areas churned up and muddy. Cloud cover is another factor, which we’ll cover more in the section on light levels. Weather’s effect on water temperature is an important consideration as well, since it will affect the places and depths the fish are most comfortable at. And as fronts pass through the changes in barometric pressure can also have an effect; with many species feeding increases immediately before a cold front, but slows during and after a storm or front hits. Fishing after a front pushes through is then sometimes poor, and continues to be poor for a day or two.

Tides and Currents

Tides and currents have a huge impact on success in saltwater fisheries. They affect water level, and a shallow area that holds fish during a high tide might be a bare mud bank during low tide conditions. Conversely, depressions in the bottom or a channel that remains deeper than the surrounding waters can have excellent fishing during a low tide. As a general rule of thumb, a changing tide and moving currents are best while static or “dead” tides with little moving water are commonly slow fishing times. Since tides and currents are predictable, it’s possible to look up a tide chart and determine what time of day might be best to try fishing before you ever leave the dock.

Read The Secrets of Tide Fishing to learn more about fishing according to the tides.

One thing you have to remember about fish and their relationship with tides and currents: it can change with time, and the other variables we’re discussing. The fish in any given spot may feed best at the end of an outgoing tide for days, weeks, or even months, and then change their pattern to feed best at the beginning of an incoming tide for one reason or another. Determining the patterns fish establish and tracking their changes is one of the great challenges of this sport, and there’s only one rule you can count on: the moment you have those fish figured out, they’ll probably change their ways!

Light Levels

We already mentioned that daybreak and sunset are a great time to fish, and this is in no small part because of the changing light levels. Many anglers believe that the changing conditions makes it tougher for prey to spot and evade predators. But the position of the sun isn’t the only variable in play. Heavy or intermittent cloud cover also has an effect, as does rainfall. Fish often feed strongly in low-light conditions, and light levels can also determine what color lures are most effective at any given time. While there’s no perfect way to predict how the fish will respond to color choice, remember this rule of thumb: look at the water, and match your lure’s color and finish to the water color. When the water condition and sunlight make the water look green, green color lures are often effective. But when they make the water look brown, root-beer colors are often a better pick. And when the sun’s high and bright in the sky reflective lures often work well, while in lower light conditions, lures with a matte finish often do the trick.