By David A. Brown

From the California Delta to the Potomac River, tidal bass fisheries consistently confound those unfamiliar with the daily influence of ebb and flow. A summary explanation would take longer than we have, so we’ll focus on a key point that all bass anglers understand: Ambush.

Moving water always positions forage, but with tides, it’s less of a suggestion and more of a direct order. Nowhere is this more apparent than in shallow vegetation.

When the tide rises, bass move deep into the grass, spatterdock, etc. to chase forage. As the water falls, the bass move out to the edges. That’s partially because the draining interior leaves nowhere for the fish to hold.

The real reason, though – ambush. As the water leaves the vegetation, it pulls loads of baitfish and crustaceans to the edges where they’re highly vulnerable to predators.

Another good example comes from Bassmaster Elite Series pro Terry Scroggins, who finds great tidal bass action around the shell bars of Northeast Florida’s St. Johns River. Using the tide to position his Smithwick Rogue in the danger zone, he positions on the bar’s deeper end and casts upcurrent.

As the bait clears the bar, he’ll jerk it down into that drop-off and kill it. Suffice it to say, the vulnerability of that bait drifting with the tide is a deal closer.

Scroggins’ observation: “They can’t handle that.”