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Slack Water Explained
by Capt. Jim Freda
Shore Catch Guide Service

lack water at Sandy Hook, New Jersey occurs 50 minutes after high water and one hour and 10 minutes after low water and lasts about 25 minutes.

"I would have thought that slack water would occur at the time of high or low tide, but that is apparently not the case. How exactly does slack water occur"?

We are looking at two physical processes here. The water is moving vertically, up or down, due to the combined effect of the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun on the water on the surface of the earth. This is the tide phase and the times correspond to the what you see on the tide chart.

At the same time (simultaneously) the water is moving horizontally, out or in at a specific location. This horizontal movement of water has inertia or momentum and takes additional time for the water to come to rest and reverse direction once in motion. (Newton's Law, an object in motion wants to stay in motion etc etc etc,.) This is called tidal current and times of slack current can be found on a tidal current chart. So the water will not stop moving in or out necessarily at the time of dead high or dead low on a tide chart.

In fact in some inlets, like Barnegat Inlet the tide can be getting higher while the water is still moving out.

Keep what is happening vertically (tide) to the water separate from what is happening horizontally (current) and you got it figured out.

So how does this relate to our fishing? Many times a particular hot bite for albies, bass, or blues might occur at a particular stage of the tide, let’s say for example slack. If you go by your tide chart the time that is noted for slack may not actually be the time that it occurs. For this time you would need to also reference a tidal current chart for the particular location that you are fishing. This chart will take into account the time delay and will allow you to put yourself in the right place at the right time.

Either side of slack high is usally the most productive simply time to fish because more water is on the beach. For striped bass the top of outgoing is preferred  End

Copyright © 1998 - 2014 Jim Freda, All Rights Reserved

Articles by Captain Jim Freda

Capt. Jim FREDAEmail Captain Jim Freda

Jim Freda is a highly respected charter captain, author, outdoor writer, seminar speaker, and photographer. His first book Fishing the New Jersey Coast, has been a best seller and received the “New Jersey Center for the Book Award” as one of the most notable NJ books. He co-authored a second book Saltwater Fishing a Tactical Approach, A Guide for Northeast Beach and Boat Fishermen, with his Shore Catch associates Capt Gene Quigley and Shell E. Caris.

Jim has weekly fishing columns that appear in the Bergen Record, NJ's second largest newspaper and the Coast Star and Ocean Star newspapers of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. Nationally, Jim is a contributing editor for Fly Fishing in Saltwaters magazine and also writes for Fly Fisherman magazine, Saltwater Sportsman, Eastern Fly Fishing, Big Game Journal, and Regionally he writes for On the Water magazine where he has is own monthly column, The Fisherman magazine and the NJ Federation of Sportsman Clubs newspaper.

As a seminar speaker Jim is featured as one of the celebrities on the Saltwater Sportsman National Seminar Series, as one of the “Stars of the Show” at the Fly Fishing Show in Somerset, NJ, the Northeast’s largest fly fishing show and is on the National Pro Seminar slate at the Toyota Saltwater Expo also in Somerset. He is also regularly featured each year at many of the local fishing clubs in the surrounding area including the State’s two largest clubs the Hudson River Fishermen’s Association and the Saltwater Anglers of Bergen County. Capt Jim has also been a guest speaker at all the Trout Unlimited Clubs in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Jim has also been a special guest speaker at the Bloomberg Network in New York City.

He is a member of the National Factory Pro Team for St. Croix Rods and pro staff for Fins Fishing Line, AVET Reels, Spro, Gamakatsu, Hogy, Korkers, Costa Del Mar, Columbia Sportswear and Aquaskinz.

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