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Challenges of Fishing: Wind, Current & Tides

Commercial fishermen are the backbone of the seafood industry. They face a multitude of challenges navigating the ocean, not to mention numerous local, state, and federal regulations. Fishermen also live with a lot of uncertainty about how much they will catch and where, and their schedules are unpredictable – mostly because of the weather. If you ask any fisherman, what are you doing tomorrow or later this week or sometime next month, they all reply with something like, “It depends on the weather.” And while those less familiar with the lifestyle of fishermen might think that has something to do with rain or snow, the weather that dictates a fishermen’s schedule usually pertains to the wind.

Successful commercial fishing depends not only on the skill and experience of the fishermen but also on their ability to interpret and respond to the dynamic interplay of wind, currents, and tides.

Wind is probably the most pivotal factor in the daily operations of commercial fishermen. The speed and direction of the wind greatly influence the safety and efficiency of fishing trips. High winds can create turbulent seas, making it challenging for fishermen to navigate and exponentially increasing the risk of accidents. Wind direction is also crucial for deploying fishing gear effectively, as it determines the drift and spread of nets or strings of traps. Fishermen must constantly assess wind conditions to avoid dangerous situations and optimize their catch.

Ocean currents, the continuous and directed movement of the ocean, play a significant role in the distribution of marine life and how gear will set in the water column. Commercial fishermen keenly observe ocean currents to identify productive fishing grounds and determine how best to set their gear. Additionally, understanding the direction and strength of currents helps fishermen plan their routes and predict the movement of their vessels, ensuring they reach their destination and maximize their catch.

Tides are caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun and they influence the depth and accessibility of fishing areas. Fishermen take note of tide tables to plan their fishing schedules. Certain species of fish are more active during specific tide conditions, and knowledge of tidal cycles aids in targeting these species. Tidal movements can also impact the safety of navigation, especially in shallow or coastal waters where changes in water depth can be abrupt. This is yet another factor to consider when planning how and when to set gear.

Commercial fishermen have access to a plethora of weather apps that provide real-time information on wind speed, direction, sea conditions, and other relevant data. These apps, often tailored for maritime users, enable fishermen to make informed decisions on when to set out, where to fish, and when to head home. Reliable weather apps have become indispensable tools for enhancing safety and efficiency on the water. Many fishermen enhance these high-tech solutions with old-fashioned tools: they call each other on the phone (or text) to weigh their decision making with other fishermen.

Long and short-term weather forecasts, issued by meteorological agencies and local news, are vital resources for commercial fishermen. These forecasts provide insights into upcoming weather patterns, allowing fishermen to plan their fishing trips around favorable conditions and avoid potentially hazardous situations. Forecasting technologies, including satellite imagery and advanced modeling, contribute to the accuracy of these predictions.

Commercial fishermen navigate a delicate balance between making a living and the unpredictable forces of nature. Understanding the weather and the dynamic ocean are both critical to their ability to ensure safety at sea and maximize their catch. Wind, currents, and tides are intricately woven into the fabric of their daily decisions, and advancements in technology, such as weather apps and forecasts, have become indispensable tools to fishermen.

ShopLobster’s dedicated fishermen brave all kinds of weather to be sure you can order fresh-caught lobster from the comfort of your home. Just two clicks and it’s on the way!

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