Inshore insights: Understanding water levels in the marsh

Visualizing staging areas is key

How many times has low water ruined your fishing trip?

The pond that held all those biting redfish would have been a great honey hole — if only there was any water left in it.

But your fishing trip shouldn’t have been ruined. Those redfish didn’t go far, and if you understood the marsh as being a series of “levels,” your trip might have fared differently.

Let me explain.


Water depths throughout the marsh aren’t uniform, so why look at water as being “all the same?”

Instead, it’s a series of levels, featuring a top level, a middle level and a bottom level, as shown in the accompanying illustration.

So when the water gets low, fish obviously lose access to the top level.

That includes bait, which drains out and is eaten by fish waiting in the middle level. We usually see this in the form of fish stacking up on a trenasse during a falling tide.

When the water gets really low — like after a strong cold front — everything drains out into the bottom-most level.

Next time the water is “too low” to fish your spot, try fishing a level down — you’d be surprised at the results you achieve.

And it works the other way, too — as water gets higher, redfish will move up a level. High water gives them access to bait they previously couldn’t reach.


An angler who understands the concept of water levels and how they fluctuate will enjoy more success than one who doesn’t. Visualizing where biting fish are most likely to stage — and where they go when water levels change — is key.

Tight lines, y’all!

Questions or comments? Chime in below.

Editor’s Note: Devin Denman is an avid inshore fisherman who writes the Louisiana Fishing Blog. To read more of his articles, visit

Subscribe now, get unlimited access for $19.99 per year

Become the most informed Sportsman you know, with a membership to the Louisiana Sportsman Magazine and

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply