Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Sea Island, Georgia. -- Normally the sound of the surf can be heard faintly throughout the house on the coast to Georgia. This morning the volume seems to have increased a few decibels. As I look east, towards the sunrise, the ocean appears to be closer to the house than normal.

This higher than normal tide reminds me of a conversation I overheard the day before.

My husband, son and I decided to brave the overcast and rainy Thanksgiving morning weather and joined a boat tour of the marsh area surrounding St. Simons Island. Also on the boat tour was an extended family from the Fort Worth area.

At the time of the tour, the water was about 2 hours before low tide and the high water mark was clearly visible above the water. These marks lead to a discussion about the timing of the tides and the impacts on fishing in the area. One of the gentlemen from Fort Worth was discussing with the captain the upcoming “flood tide,” trying to determine the timing and impact of the upcoming higher than-normal morning high tide.

The reference to a “flood tide,” was one I had never heard before. As I understood their conversation, a flood tide occurs when the high tide is higher than normal, creating a flood in low-lying areas.

Of course, where there is water, there is also the possibility of fish.

This flooding allows redfish to swim into areas that are normally dry, providing them with access to fiddler crabs, which are normally not accessible to them. This opportunity for the fish (access to fiddler crabs) ends up being an opportunity for fishermen (a higher concentration of redfish than normal).

Flood tides occur once a month, with the full moon. If you know when they are going to occur, then you can take advantage of the opportunity and, potentially, catch more fish than normal.

According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, opportunity is the “favorable juncture of circumstances,” or “a good chance for advancement or progress.” In this case, the opportunity for the fisherman during a flood tide is the unusually large number of fish in a particular area, leading to the possibility that he will catch more fish than he usually does.

If you are not aware of the flood tide, the opportunity can become a hazard. The boats can travel into the marsh with the tide, but when it recedes, those aboard can be left high and dry, stuck in an area that will not see tide water again for another month.

Once this occurs, they are left with the option of dragging the boat through the mud, back into the water, or leaving the boat until the next flood tide unlodges it.


Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.