Home Drifting Easy - Fishing Tips Catching Stripers in the surf around Ocean City, Maryland
Catching Stripers in the surf around Ocean City, Maryland

"I'm going fishing in the surf in Ocean City, Maryland. I hear there are stripers? Are
there bluefish? What should I use and how should I rig up?"

Everyone was excited to hear of big stripers in the surf over Mother's
Day Weekend. A good striper run can last a few weeks at best, and whenever
anglers are dealing with BIG fish, the action can be "hit or miss." One
thing is for sure. If you aren't out there standing on the beach with a surf
rod either in your hand or in a sand spike, you aren't going to catch them!

"What's the difference in fishing for stripers and fishing for

Most surf anglers in Ocean City, Maryland are familiar with catching
bluefish. They use finger mullet either cut up in chunks or fished whole on
a "finger mullet rig." Anglers almost always use a rig with a Styrofoam
surf float next to the hook. When fishing for stripers, most anglers ditch
the float, use a circle hook, and use a heavy duty top and bottom rig, a
fish finder rig, or a rig made with a heavy-duty 3-way swivel. What size
hook you use depends upon the bait. The most popular bait is bunker.

"What is bunker?"

Bunker is a big oily fish, also called Menhaden. It is often sold fresh,
though it can be bought frozen or filleted and salted.

"How do you cut it up?"

Anglers in the summer months, fillet off a side, and cut it into strips or
small pieces for smaller fish. But in the spring and fall, there's a chance
of hooking into a 10 to 30 pound striper. You want a good chunk of bait to
better your odds to catch a big fish. Rather than fillet the bunker, anglers
cut it up into chunks. Cut out the belly and guts, and save the belly meat
to make strips for flounder or bluefish. Take the dark upper portion of the
bunker, and cut it all the way through the bone into chunks. Hook the chunk
by going in one side of the chunk through the skin, and out the other side,
through the skin. If you leave the belly meat on, the guts will wash out,
and the belly portion will flap around in the current and cause resistance.
If the current is strong it may dislodge your sinker and wash to shore. You
also can't cast it as far if it is flapping around in the wind!

"What about baiting a whole head?"

The whole head is one of the best "big striper" bait there is. It stays on
the hook a long time. Even if there are crabs out there, they can't get it
off the hook.

If the bunker head is large, the angler cuts off the lower jaw and inserts
the hook in the mouth and out the tough part of its snout. Cutting the lower
jaw cuts down on the
weight when casting. Smaller bunker heads can be simply hooked through the
eyes. Be sure to use a large hook when baiting a whole head. Always make
sure your hook point is clearly outside of the bait. If you try to bury a
hook in the bait, you
will miss the "hook up!" Anglers use a size #7/0 to #10/0 circle or Octopus
style hook. If you are only using the heads, you can leave a little body

"What's the best rig to use?"

The simplest rig is best. A fish finder rig slid up on your line for your
sinker. A good heavy barrel swivel with some 50 to 100 pound test leader
attached to a good sharp hook. You don't need a long leader. In fact, Dale
Timmons of Assateague Tackle Company makes a great rig with a short leader
called a Red Drum and Striper Rig.
Eagle Claw Lazer Sharp Circle hook #9/0 with a 310 pound Stainless Steel
Swivel on 100 pound mono with beads and fish finder included. Good to use
with a large chunk of fresh bait for large fish.

" Is it over-kill?"

Well, when I was writing my fish report last week I was looking at some
Fishing Forums Online. Here's some excerpts.
.Set up and line was in the water for 10 minutes and my pole goes off.
Fought for about 3 minutes and got my first of the year, a nice healthy 34"
15-pounder. As I was pulling it out the wash my swivel broke in two! Managed
to get the fish though.

"..and he lands another 34".. I dragged the line out the water and the knot
broke at the swivel in the wash but we manage to get it before the waves
came. Talk about luck..

I see them all the time when reading fish reports for anglers catching big
fish in the surf. Swivel failure. knot failure.rods being ripped out of the
sand spikes and going in the ocean. So even though your rig can be simple,
make sure it is made out of strong materials! Pulling a 10 to 30 pound fish
up on the beach puts a lot of strain on your rig, hook, and line.

"What pound test should I use?"

Most anglers use at least 20 pound test monofilament or 40 to 50 pound test
braided line. Many use a shock leader of 30 to 40 pound test that wraps
around your spool 3 or 4 times. Be sure you tie a good knot when securing
your shock leader or "poof!" there may go your striper!

"Will finger mullet work for stripers?"

Lots of anglers in Ocean City, Maryland like to use finger mullet as they are so used
to fishing for bluefish. Finger mullet work fine. You can cut down on the
hook size and go with about a #3/0 to #5/0 circle or bait holder style hook.
Bait holder style hooks are also good for using bloodworms and clam which
are also good striper baits.
Instead of using a whole mullet rig as you would for bluefish, cut the
mullet in half and hook it through the head. Then if the bluefish start
biting, drag out the mullet rigs and catch some blues as well!

"I don't know whether to fish for stripers on blues?"

Take two rods and fish for both! Put a whole bunker head on and throw it
out and set it in the rod holder. Be sure to set your drag. Then take
another rod and put on a finger mullet on a whole "finger mullet rig" and
either set it in the rod holder or hold it in your hands. When you are
fishing with a whole head, you are strictly fishing for striper or shark. So
if Mr. Striper doesn't come along, you could come up empty.

"What's the best tide?"

So many people like two hours on either side of high tide that's it is
almost like a "rule of thumb." They say to themselves, "I can't go fishing
until the tide is right." But many stripers are also caught at low tide. Or
in the morning. Or right at dusk. Or just any ol' time. Stripers are coming
out of the rivers and moving into the ocean. Sometimes they come close to
shore to feed, while other times they move out too far to catch one. You
just GOT to be there. Don't wait for the perfect tide and the perfect
weather. (Actually stripers like it when it's a little turbulent!) Look for
a cut or slough on the beach that looks fishy. (You can research that while
you are working.)

Then, when you have the time, and you can hold bottom in the surf, GO
FISHING in Ocean City, Maryland!

Good fishing....

Need bait and tackle? Come see us at Oyster Bay Tackle, Ocean City, Maryland (410-524-3433) or Fenwick Tackle, Fenwick Island, Delaware (302-539-7766), OR Shop Online!

Last Updated on Friday, 06 November 2009 17:08