If you're curious about how to read a tide chart and apply it to your fishing day, I drew this little chart up to help. The first thing I want to mention is the depth marks on the left and the time marks on the bottom of the chart. The depth and time of a tide are influenced by moon phase, season, and weather and thus will change accordingly.
Next, look at the arrows atop the tide. Shorter arrows mean faster flow, and longer arrows m slower flow. The only factor that's not part of a tidal chart is the weather. (For the purpose of explaining this tide chart, I'm not going to include weather)
Moving on, as seen on the chart 3:52-5:10 am marks the incoming flow of the tide and thus starts bringing a flow of current. The current brings cooler water temps, more oxygenated water, and pushes in baitfish, triggering the bite. As that flow increases from 5:10-8:12 am, so does the cooler water, oxygen, and bait, which makes the bite continue to improve and become consistent. As the tide approaches the high tide point from 8:12-9:45 am, that flow will begin to slow down. At this time, the water temp is slowly starting to climb, the oxygen isn't as great, and the bait isn't being pushed as hard by the current. From 9:45 am-2:40 pm on the chart, you have the top of the incoming tide. Often times the fish will be either sitting still in shade, structure, or grass and more or less be digesting their prior feast in a zone they deem comfortable to their species. This absolutely does not mean the bite is shut off, but ill get to that another time.
Okay, now onto the outgoing side of the tide. Essentially it is the reverse of what I just explained but ill go ahead and spell it out. From 2:40 pm-3:53 pm, the water that's been heating up will start moving and mixing with deeper, cooler, and more oxygenated water, as well as pulling the baitfish from the safety they acquired during the still current at the top of the tide. This will trigger the bite again. From 3:53 pm-6:42 pm, the bite will continue to improve and gain consistency much as it did on an incoming tide. From 6:42 pm-8:36pm, the current flow is going to really slow back down again as it heads for the bottom of low tide then it all starts back over again the next day.
This is in my opinion a basic explanation as there are still soooo many variables in planning a successful day on the water but I will eventually get around to explaining how I add all the variables together to produce successful days on the water.
Follow along with my adventures - Josh Damons Inshore Fishing