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.

Serious fishermen, who want to take advantage of the flood tide opportunities as they happen, study the tides and phases of the moon to determine the best possible fishing times. They determine the best locations by talking to other, more experienced fishermen, or by watching the flood tides over time to determine where the water will go. Rather than leaving their fishing to chance, these fishermen attempt to provide themselves with the best opportunity to be successful at fishing.

Fishermen can increase their chances of success by showing up at the right place, at the right time, with the right equipment (including, in this case, a jig, a fishing lure with a lead sinker, hook and soft body covering made to resemble a fiddler crab).

Properly armed with information, equipment, location and timing, the fisherman is more likely to be able to take advantage of the opportunity the flood tide provides. However, ever the best fisherman, ill prepared can squander an opportunity.

Now, here’s the hook: Throughout life, opportunities occur. Sometimes, we are able to take advantage of them; other times we do not even recognize they existed until after they are gone. The questions we might ask ourselves include: Are we paying attention to the surrounding landscape? Do we prepare for and then recognize the opportunities so we can take advantage of them while they are here? When opportunities present themselves, do we have all the equipment necessary to take full advantage of them, or will we simply allow ourselves to be swept up, tossed about and then left high and dry?


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”.