Normally, the surf can be heard faintly throughout our family’s house on the coast of Georgia. This morning, the volume has increased a few decibels as we get ready to weather a tropical storm that is approaching the west side of Florida. While the storm is miles away, its impact can already be felt.
This higher-than-normal tide reminds me of a conversation I overheard a decade ago. My husband, son, and I had decided to brave the overcast and rainy morning, and we joined a boat tour of the marsh surrounding St. Simons Island. Also on the boat tour was an extended family from Fort Worth, Texas.
At the time of the tour, about two hours before low tide, the high-water marks were clearly visible above the water. These marks led to a discussion about the timing of the tides and their impact on fishing in the area. One of the men 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 people who fish (a higher-than-normal concentration of redfish).
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.
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 tidewater 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 dislodges it.
People who take fishing seriously, 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 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 anglers attempt to provide themselves with the best opportunity to be successful at fishing.
They 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, a hook, and a soft body covering made to resemble a fiddler crab).
Properly armed with information, equipment, location, and timing, the fisher is more likely to be able to take advantage of the opportunity the flood tide provides. Those people who are ill-prepared, however, 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. We might ask ourselves various questions: 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?
To find out more about Jackie Gingrich Cushman, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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