Gulf Coast Fisherman Magazine Vol 39 No. 3 - SUMMER 2015 | Page 5

Editor’s Notes The Wells Daily Fishing Forecast, as it appears today in Gulf Coast Fisherman magazine, dates back to 1957. However, the research for the Forecast conducted by Harold Wells started in the late 40’s. Frequently visiting Galveston Bay area bait camps and fishing destinations, Harold determined there was an advance predictor of the best times to fish, and it was more than just the time of high or low tide, as commonly thought. It was the movement of tidal currents, he found to be the controlling factor of baitfish movement and therefore an advance predictor of when fish would feed. Here’s an insight into use of the Forecast readers may find helpful, first published by Harold Wells in 1962: Of all the various tidal actions that have a profound effect on fishing action in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, one in particular seldom gets much attention. Standing tides, both high or low just do not get the attention they deserve. These standing highs or lows are not predicted for any other coast in the western Atlantic. The Gulf and parts of the Caribbean Sea are the only areas to experience this sort of tidal action. The official Tidal Current Tables give this explanatory paragraph in the Glossary of Terms: “Stand of Tide - Sometimes called a platform tide; an interval at high or low water when there is no sensible change in the height of the tide. The water level is stationary at high or low water for only an instant, but the change in level near these times is so small that it is not usually perceptible. In general, the duration of the apparent stand will depend upon the range of tide, being longer for a small range than for a large range. But where there is a tendency for a double tide, the stand may last for several hours even with a large range of tides.” While for navigation purposes this is not very important, except on extreme low winter tides, it is a big factor to fishermen. When a flooding tide begins to stand at high, the forcing power of a current stops moving fish food. Most fishing action then becomes scattered over wide areas of a bay, with reefs and sand bars no longer holding schools of feeding fish. For the stationary pier or bank fisherman this usually ends all fishing action until the next tidal current movement takes place. Sometimes the occasional straggler fish that wanders past will make the long waits bearable. For the boat and wade fisherman, moving becomes essential during these standing tides. When tide waters become high as result of double tides, that is two highs without a low tide between them, then the best fishing action will be in the back bays and shorelines. There is usually a gradual movement toward the bay passes as the supply of food thins out on hard bottoms. Fishing just inside the bay entrances or even the pass will usually be productive and have you in good position for the start of the next ebbing tide. On a low standing tide, almost everywhere in a bay system fishing will be poor until the waters from the Gulf start moving into the passes. The first hours of the flood tide will have good fishing in and near the bay entrances. The Wells Fishing Forecast show these standing tides as they occur. Whenever a tidal movement time ends and the start of the next movement time is over three hours, this tide has been standing for most of this time period. Here’s an example from the Forecast: IN 12:30am to 04:30am GOOD. (Next line) OUT 12:00pm to 05:00 pm STRONG. This indicates that the tidal flooding ended at approximately 05:00 am and likely began to ebb around 11:15 am. These time periods can often last as much as seven hours or more. These long standing tides are the rule on the North Gulf coast, rather than just two periods each month as on the Florida and Texas Gulf coast. This standard of only two tides each day, one high and one low, is due to a combination of direction of tidal flow and the east to west pull of the moons gravitational attraction conflicting with the Earth’s spinning motion. There is almost no south to north constant factor. Whe