Here’s some information regarding the tides around the UK to try and help you understand the dangers and learn to live with them as without this knowledge you could end up at the bottom of the sea!

Many paddlers new to the sport of kayak fishing are ex shore and/or boat anglers who know the tidal system and know when to fish and be safe on rock edges or coves during a spring tide. Kjnowing when to leave them is essential! The same goes for a kayak except the difference between a boat on a spring tide and a kayak is the fact one has a big engine that can switch on and drive you back to the wreck you were fishing (or safety). On a kayak a spring tide drift over a wreck could prove very worthy of the effort but it could also get you into a whole load of bother as it’s lighter, more tippable and the only engine usually is our arms! So once a current pushes us off our wreck and on with the tide its VERY hard to get back against the flow/tide.

Fishing on a neap tide is favoured generally as the tide pull is at its weakest and least dangerous! Also, the fish (Cod) are more active on neap tides as they’re a lazy scavenger and hide in holes and kelp out of the tide so making them tougher to catch on a spring tide. On a neap tide the chance of tipping is a lot less as the current is weak except for mid tide when its at its peak flood/ebb. You’ll also lose less rigs and gear in general as your not being pushed and pulled around as much.

Anchoring on a neapp tide can be comfortable and plentiful fishing wise. Anchoring on a neap tide requires full on attention, a body leash (in case you tip and lose the kayak). The VHF will need to stay in the PFD (not deck fixed/mounted) in case you do tip. An anchored up kayak can be pulled under as the tide fights against the anchor, line and kayak with you on top. The force of water pulls the yak down making it unstable and without an anchor trolley leaves you sat one way in the tide making it even more dangerous!


This is where a floating anchor, known as a ‘drogue’ comes in handy and can be an essential piece of kit as it floats beneath the surface stopping the current from pulling/pushing the yak a lot slower than it would without it and it doesn’t snag (always watch for pot lines).

The wind places a HUGE amount of difference and dangers upon the tides so we need to learn them both and learn how it affects us. If out on a boat and the weather turns nasty you can be back inland to the moorings in an hour at longest wheras on a kayak you’ve got 5 minutes of reeling in, dropping and securing rods to gunwales or tubes (gunwales best if landing in surf) and packing all the rigs and gear away BEFORE heading in on the now choppy sea with the wind and rain howling in your face!

If you paddle out on an ebbing tide with an offshore wind behind you, paddling back in is going to be a struggle if the wind picks up over say 12mph, white top will appear a mile or so off making it harder to paddle against too. If the wind is onshore then expect swell! as it lifts the sea. Something to be very wary of!

You could be sitting fishing on the flood so the tides pushing you in towards shore but the wind is offshore and if one becomes faster or stronger than the other for instance say its mid tide so the current speeds up neutralising the winds effects making the kayak push to shore faster and into the surf zone where it gets dodgy! On the other hand if the wind picked up more than the tide you’d then be pushed out to sea against the tide but if the wind is that strong then there’ll be ‘white tops’ as the wind blows the tops off waves. This makes it bad to paddle in as the spray blinds you and the salt water in your eyes isn’t nice at all!

It’s all about learning them both and using them to your advantage. Maybe paddle out on the last of the ebb tide so it carries you out to your chosen destination and then let the flooding tide bring you back in as you fish along the way without the need for paddling. Occasions like these can be rare but are well worth looking into.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login