Home Drifting Easy - Fishing Tips Avoiding Snags in Ocean City, MD
Avoiding Snags in Ocean City, MD

Drifting Easy by Sue Foster


I was wondering what to write about this week when I got this e-mail from Steve. He had a number of questions but one was a question I get all the time.


“My son & I fished last summer in Ocean City, MD. We didn't catch much but we still hada lot of fun.  Our biggest problem was hung up lines. Is there a specific technique to limit this from happening? We're looking forward to more fishing this summer. Thanks for your advice.”


Well Steve, it’s hard to have fun when you are continuously getting hung up. In Ocean City, there are plenty of snags, and unfortunately, when one person gets hung up and breaks off their line, the underwater snag gets worse as the bundle of monofilament and lost rigs gets larger. If you are fishing from the shore and get hung up once, try not to cast to that same particular spot again.


There are two places in Ocean City that are just “snag city.”  One of them is the Ocean City Inlet and the other location is the bulkhead along 2nd through 4th Streets on the Bayside. Let’s talk about these two areas and how to best avoid “hung up lines” in these two fishing “hot spots”.


The bulkhead along 2nd through 4th Street is a popular fishing area in Ocean City. It is handicap accessible. It has metered parking by the hour. You can park and be fishing right in front of your car!  The railing makes it safe for kids.  The problem with the area is that it is snaggy. The main east channel runs right in front of the bulkhead and when the current is running hard, the water barrels up or down the channel with full force. A six- ounce sinker won’t hold in this channel when the current is running hard.


To avoid snags in this area is to fish carefully.  When the current is running hard, do NOT cast out, but fish straight down and do not move your sinker up and down constantly. Put it on the bottom, and leave it on the bottom till you check your bait or have a bite.


Understanding the bottom here will help you understand where the snags are. When you fish straight down the water is 6 to maybe 10 feet deep, plenty deep enough to catch all species of fish. This depth remains consistent for approximately 8-10 feet from the bulkhead where it suddenly drops off to 25 to 30 foot. THIS IS WHERE THE WORST SNAGS ARE.  If you cast out there into the main channel and the tide is ripping, the sinker and rig are swept back towards this underwater ledge where dozens of other anglers have already snagged up their lines and you wind up getting hung up.


The trick to fishing the bulkhead is to fish straight down when the tide is ripping. (You can flip your sinker out just a little so it doesn’t get hung up on the rip rap next to the bulkhead). When the tide slows down, you can cast out into the channel, but make sure you have enough sinker weight to hold out there. When you reel in or check your bait, reel with your rod tip way up and reel in fast so you do not catch the “ledge.” 


             There’s all kind of rocks and mussels and things to get hung up on. But that’s what brings in the tautog, triggerfish, flounder, croaker, spot and little sea bass. The other trick to “less snags” is less hardware. If you have kids, buy those inexpensive bronze freshwater leadered hooks. Tie the sinker to the end of the line, and go up a few inches, make an overhand surgeons knot, and loop on the hook.  The leaders on these hooks are light, so if you get hung up, you can easily break the leader. No need to buy a bunch of fancy flounder rigs with wire top and bottom rigs and beads and spinner blades when fishing in a snaggy area!  If you have no idea how to tie surgeon’s knots, buy some of those Bear Paw no-knot line connectors, or buy a 3-way swivel with a snap for the sinker and make a simple one-hook rig with the inexpensive hooks for the kids.


             When fishing the Ocean City Inlet, use the same technique. The rocks are out there just waiting for you to get snagged up on. But if you get beyond the rocks, and stay out there on the slacking tides, you won’t get hung up. Carry a good amount of sinkers in a variety of sizes. When the tide is running really hard, fish closer in, or better yet, cast bucktails out there. Bait up your bucktail with some Berkley Gulp or strip of squid or a shiner. Cast upstream, letting the bucktail sink as the tide brings it in front of you. As soon as it gets past you in the current, reel in with your rod tip up. The rocks are out there a little further than you can see.


             9th Street Pier is another popular fishing hole. Cast off the end of the pier towards the left towards the Rt. 50 Bridge.  If your line goes towards the right, the old sections of the pier are underwater and you will get hung up. Avoid that.


             Route 50 Bridge has its share of snags but not nearly as bad as the Bulkhead or Inlet. You can get hung up if you get near the pilings of the bridge. Always remember that the mussels growing on the concrete are larger underwater. If you think you are getting near an underwater snag, don’t wait, get out of there!  Edges of channels along the bridge or near the draw of the bridge have snaggy areas. The technique is to gingerly bounce over these spots with your sinker. 


             Oceanic Pier?  Same thing. Keep your rigs out of the pilings, watch the underwater ledge if you cast straight west off the pier, and watch the rocks if you cast towards the concrete inlet wall.


             Last word of advice? If you let a whole bunch of slack in your line or let a whole lot of line out in a fast current, you’ll get hung up. As they say, “tight lines.”  Keep your sinker on the bottom, but your line taunt.


Good fishing….



Last Updated on Thursday, 24 June 2010 00:07