What are the best times to fish for different saltwater species?

For tarpon and bonefish, almost all agree that the higher stages of the tide are best...

Q: What are the best times to fish for different saltwater species? Some recommend the full- and new-moon phases with their higher tides. I am currently preparing for a permit trip and read that a new moon is best. However, my guide suggested the full-moon period. I have fished with him in the Florida Keys for several years, and I think he knows what he is doing.

Jack Miller

A: First, you will get different opinions on any given area from a number of successful guides, Jack. But for tarpon and bonefish, almost all agree that the higher stages of the tide are best. Permit also like flats well-flooded so they can swim and chase prey easily.

But there is no pat answer to your question. Several favorite bonefish places of mine in the Bahamas are close to the level of the sea. They are best fished on neap tides. On new- or full-moon phases, high tides flood the mangroves, and you can see bonefish swimming between the roots, safe from fishermen.

Some areas allow both fish and anglers to get up in the shallows together on higher tides. But there are other areas where the draining water funnels the fish through ditches and outlets of bays. The latter areas are most productive on falling tides.