Tide watch

A sleeper in play at this tournament that not many anglers are talking about is the tide. And not just the daily ebb and flow cycle of the tide. This week, it is all about how the tide will actually raise the water level and keep it there.

Here, the St. Johns River flows from south to north. On Thursday and Friday the wind blew from the south with sustained winds up to 40 mph. That wind pushed water out of Lake George, largest in the river system, into the river itself. Overall, the water level dropped several feet and remained low.

Regardless of whether or not the prevailing pattern leans toward spawning beds, the lower water level will affect strategies across the board.

"I had my first five fish of the day marked," said Drew Benton. "Now, those beds are out of the water."

Derek Hudnall, from south Louisiana and accustomed to fishing tidal waters, added this thought.

"The low water and low tide has pulled the fish out, and when it comes back in the fish will completely reposition themselves," he said. "So if you marked fish on beds with the GPS they probably won't be there, so it's going to be like restarting practice."

Mark Menendez added this theory about what could happen.

"When the tide comes back in later today it could flood the shoreline, because eventually it will bring the water that we lost with the wind back," he said. "That could bring with it the fish back into shallow water to set back up to spawn."

Today's high tide in Palatka is at 2:34 p.m.; on Sunday the best high tide happens at 3:21 p.m. So it will be worth watching to see how the tide plays into the tournament.