Tide and wave safety for rock fishers

Rock fishing can be hazardous ... check the weather before you go!

For your safety it is essential that you understand the tides when you are rock fishing. This is because wave conditions change as the tide rises and falls.

Why is understanding tides important?

  • A rising tide can make waves break onto the rocks where you are fishing.
  • Water levels rise quickest around mid-tide.
  • Tide times change from day to day and in different locations.
  • The weather can change the predicted tide levels.

What to check

  • Check low and high tide times every time you fish—tide times change every day and vary at different locations. In most places the tide takes around six hours to change from low to high.
  • Use the tide times to note when the tide is rising. This is when wave conditions can change rapidly and waves can break onto the rocks without warning.
  • Note when the tide will be midway through its cycle. The two to three hours around the mid-tide is when water levels rise quickest.
  • Check your local weather before you go fishing—strong onshore winds can indicate that the tide levels may be higher than predicted.


If the tide rises faster or higher than you are expecting, you may find:

  • you suddenly can't see a safe path to dry rocks;
  • waves may break onto the rocks where you are fishing;
  • water may start washing over your legs and feet; and
  • you could fall into the water.

During the 6 hours between low and high tide the water levels rise quickest at mid-tide. Rising tide brings surging waves.