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Slack Water Explained
by Captain Jim Freda
Shore Catch Guide Service

Slack 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, Capt Jim

Copyright 1998 - 2014 Jim Freda, All Rights Reserved

Articles by Captain Jim Freda

Jim and his partners in Shore Catch Guide Service, Capt. Gene Quigley, Shell E. Caris, Capt. David Goldman, Capt. Adam Sherer, Capt. Tom O'Loughlin, Capt. Rich Swisstack and David Torrick are based out of Manasquan, NJ and guide on the beaches of New Jersey from Sandy Hook to Island Beach State Park. They provide “on the water,” surf fishing lessons along with promoting and educating the public in the sport of saltwater fishing.

Capt. Jim FredaInshore and Offshore boat charters with Shore Catch Guides run from Sandy Hook, Manasquan Inlet, and Barnegat Bay. Featuring Parker, Cape Horn, Jones Brothers, and Yellowfin boats, built for fishing the Northeast Atlantic. Each boat is custom rigged, equipped with state of the art Ray Marine and Lowrance electronics including GPS, Chartplotters, fishfinders, VHF radios, radar and sonar to provide a safe, productive, and enjoyable day on the water. Tackle includes a full complement of St. Croix and Spinal Rods, Mako Reels, AVET Conventional Reels, Van Staal, Shimano and Okuma Spinning Reels for any type of fishing. For more information on their guide services, please go to the Shore Catch Guide Service

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