While I do have to admit I have done that exact thing a time or two in the past, I will also say that I plan my trips, from start to finish. I plan them around the tides, around the time of day, around the weather, and around the areas I want to fish. So, here are some tips on how you can plan your day of fishing to make the most of your time on the water.
Know What the Tides Will Be
Tides in my area change every five and a half to six and a half hours. That means that the tides are roughly one hour later from one day to the next. If high tide at a creek I want to fish was nine this morning, it will be around 10 tomorrow morning.
We all know the importance of fishing the right tide in a given area. I have places that I do well on a high and outgoing tide and other places that I do equally well on a low or incoming tide.
So the first thing I do is to check and see what the tides will be on the day I plan to fish. And - not just in one location! As you move inland away from an inlet, the tide takes longer to rise and fall. It may be high in the inlet at nine in the morning, but as you move inland, the high tide will take longer to peak. A couple of miles inland means an hour or more of time before the tide will be high. That means you can plan to follow the high tide (or the low tide) as it moves inland. I have fished a slack high tide all day in some cases, simply by moving to locations farther inland as the high tide reached where I was fishing. And obviously I have followed the low tide as well.
Morning and Evening Bites
If you have some favorite locations where you know fish will feed early, plan to be in those locations first. Then, given the tide situation, you can move from there to catch the right tide at other locations nearby.
Certainly you don't want to plan to be in one location in the morning and then have to run ten miles to reach the next place you want to fish. Make the best use of your fuel and fish the area closest to you that meets the tide condition. It may be that you could catch striped bass ten miles from where you first fish in the morning, but that by only traveling a mile you can catch fluke. I would make the choice to fish the fluke rather than making the long run. Plan your fishing accordingly.
Fishing Ahead of a Front
A cold front, even in the summer time, cause the relative pressure to drop as it moves closer. This drop in pressure will cause the fish to feed - sometimes almost in a frenzy. They sense the pressure drop with their lateral lines, and tend to want to gorge themselves prior to a front. I think they have learned that the front brings wind, which means dirty water, which means a more difficult time finding something to eat. So they feed up and wait until the water clears a couple of days later. If you have ever fished on the bluebird, cloudless sky on the day after a front goes through, you know what I mean. It is hard to catch a fish on those days.
So, I plan to fish ahead of the front. I like to go the day before a front moves through - or even fish the actual day of the front. That can sometimes mean rain and wet weather, but it can also mean a lot of fish!
Planning Around A Location
Sometimes I read a report that says something like the flounder are hitting around the rocks in the Broad River. Seldom does a report go into any more detail, but I know that the current between tides is so strong that it is almost impossible to fish the rocks they talk about. I know that I have to be there on a slack tide - the time between the end of one tide and the beginning of the next when the water changes direction. So, planning a trip for flounder means I may not leave the dock until the afternoon, and that I will only be fishing for about an hour in the location. Of course I make additional plans to fish either before or after the tide change in an area close to those rocks, but for the rocks themselves, I can only fish the slower water. Planning means that I have some order to my fishing!
In all of your fishing, you need a plan. Heading out to "try your luck" will mean just that - you will be lucky to catch fish. Having a plan to go by makes your day an orderly transition from one location to another, and usually means you will be successful. My advice: Plan your fishing, then fish your plan!!