Rt. 50 Fishing

Drifting Easy by Sue Foster (Rt. 50 Bridge Fishing)

“I hear there’s some good fishing off that Rt. 50 Bridge! Where
is it exactly and how do you fish it?”

The Route 50 Bridge is one of the two main bridges that you pass
over to come into Ocean City. When coming from the west, there will be signs
as you get close to Ocean City with a choice of staying on U.S. Route 50 or
going to North Ocean City via Route 90. Choose U.S. Route 50 and you will
come into downtown Ocean City and see the drawbridge with a walkway for

Anglers can fish on most parts of the bridge except, of course,
the draw, which opens and closes for big boats with tall outriggers. On the
west side of the bridge there is a small area that has a tall mesh fence
where one cannot fish; this is the west channel. Boaters go through here if
they want to pass under the bridge on the west channel.

“Where do I park?”

There are steps on the east end of the Bridge on St. Louis Ave.
You can park along the street if you can find a parking place, or park in
one of the Ocean City’s many “pay” parking lots. St. Louis Ave. runs
parallel to Philadelphia Ave. from downtown to 17th Street. It actually
turns and twists and takes you right underneath the Bridge itself. Take
this scenic drive and you will see the set of stairs on both the north and
south side of the Bridge.

You can also park on the west side of the Bridge along the side
of the highway. There is limited parking there, and anglers are not allowed
to park there from midnight to 5 A.M. There is a huge “park and ride”
parking area west of the Route 50 Bridge that you could use as well.

“Where is the best place to fish on the Bridge?”

Almost all the areas on the Bridge are good as long as you are
not fishing on a sand bar. There used to be one big sand bar in the middle
of the Bridge, but now some channels have cut through the bar, making some
interesting fishing holes. As long as you are fishing in at least five foot
of water, you can catch some fish. The most popular fishing area is between
the “draw” of the Bridge and the first sand bar. The tide can run swiftly
here, so if you can’t hold bottom, walk further along past the first bar and
you will find some deeper water again. The current won’t be so strong there.

The West end of the Bridge sees some pretty good fishing too.
The channel has gotten narrow on the west end and less boaters use it than
in the past. It is generally calmer and less crowded on the west end. (The
best area is near the mesh fence that designates the boating channel.) But
there are some interesting channels towards the middle of the Bridge now
that offers some good fishing. By day, you will see some of the
Bay “party boats” work some of these channels. That’s always a good
indication of a good spot to fish! Just don’t cast out too close to the

“I’m fishing during the day. What should I use for bait?”

Most anglers fishing the Bridge by day are fishing for flounder.
The bait of choice is a frozen shiner hooked through the eyes tipped with a
strip of squid on the same hook. You can also use live minnows hooked
through the lips and tipped with a strip of squid. Some people find it
inconvenient to lug a minnow bucket up on the Bridge. You can carry your
minnows in a small cooler. Put an ice pack in the bottom and cover it with a
wet rag or several paper towels. Put in a layer of minnows and drape a
single wet paper towel on top of them, and they will live all day without
water! You can do the same for live eels at night. As long as minnows or
eels are cool and moist, they do not need water!

For flounder, you can either use a single long-leadered type rig
or a two-hook flounder rig. Either one works fine. The single rigs can be
made out of 30-inch leadered #1/0 wide gap hooks. Tie the leadered hook onto
a 3-way swivel and attach a duel lock snap or a short piece of leader
material to the other eye of the 3-way swivel for a one and a half, two or
3-ounce bank type sinker. Attach the last eye of the 3-way swivel to your
line. I always use a snap swivel to avoid line twist.

These rigs can be bought at most tackle stores. They may be
dressed up with bucktail on a brass sleeve, spinner blades and beads, or
brightly colored squids. No matter what jewelry is on the rig, you still
want to use bait during the day.

A basic top and bottom rig with two size #1/0 wide gap hooks is
fine on the Bridge also. You can use regular hooks or hooks with nickel or
chartreuse spinner blades. Cast out, and reel in very slow along the bottom
with your rod tip “down.” When you feel a bite let the fish “take it” for a
moment, then bring your rod tip “up”. If you feel the feel on, set the hook
and reel in without letting any slack get in your line.

Many Bridge anglers use the spreader rig. This rig, which looks like a coat
hanger, is rigged with two leadered hooks (size #1/0 to #2/0 wide-gaps) and
a two-ounce bank sinker. A 2-½ inch plastic bobber or large “Balsa Wood”
float is attached approximately four to six feet above the rig. The bobber
floats the rig across the bottom, producing the same effect as drifting in a
boat. The trick, of course, is to get the bobber or float at the right
depth. If you are dragging up horseshoe crabs or other bottom debris, the
rig is too close to the bottom. If your bait is not being stolen by crabs
or nipped in half by fish bites, the rig is too far off the bay’s floor.

“What else can we catch besides flounder?”

All kinds of fish are in the bay. Bluefish, croaker, spot, little sea bass,
blowfish, trout and stripers are all around. By day, fish for pan fish such
as croaker, sea bass, and blowfish with smaller hooks (size #4) and pieces
of squid, worm, peeler crab and shrimp. The only problem with the Bridge is
that there are hundreds of tiny sea bass around the pilings of the Bridge.
They are fun for the kids to catch, but you rarely catch a “keeper.” If you
want to try for croaker, blowfish, or spot, cast away from the pilings of
the Bridge to get away from the sea bass.

“How about night fishing?”

The Route 50 Bridge is excellent at night and also in the wee hours of the
morning just before daybreak and right after. Anglers use lures such as
Got-cha Plugs and bucktail jigs dressed with a plastic worm or curltail
grub. Swimming Shads that come in variety of sizes and brands including
Storm, Calcutta, and Tsunami are very popular. Anglers also use soft bodies
such as “Zoom” and “Fin-S Fish” placed on lead heads. A very popular “local’
s secret” is to tie two soft bodies lures in tandem. This makes the lures
sink deeper and gives the illusion of baitfish following each other.

To make a tandem rig you can use a three-way swivel and tie one lure to a
12-inch piece of leader and the other lure on an 18-inch piece of leader and
tie each end to one of the eyes of the 3-way swivel. The last eye of the
3-way is tied to your line off your reel. (Again, a good snap swivel will
help you avoid line twist.) Use a black one at night. A big brassy one could
scare away the fish!

Others simply use a 45-inch piece of leader stick leader or other 30 to 40
pound test leader. Tie one lure to one end and the other lure to the other
end. Tie a dropper loop, offset in the middle of the piece of leader and
attach it to a black snap swivel at the end of your line off your reel.

Anglers work the current from the Route 50 Bridge at night. They cast
against the current, so the lures come back towards them. They let the lures
sink, then jig them up, bouncing them off the bottom until it lures get
underneath the Bridge. Some anglers cast the lures parallel to the Bridge
pilings when the tide is slacking and work them east to west. Some cast the
lures underneath the Bridge and let the current bring them out again.

Others like to use live eels or live spot at night for stripers and sea
trout. During the slacking tides you need little or no weight. Work the eel
or spot just like a lure. When the tide is moving, you need a one to one and
a half ounce egg sinker above a barrel swivel on your #4/0 to #5/0 Octopus
styled hook.

“How do you get a big fish up on the Bridge?”

Anglers can buy what we call a “Bridge net.” It is a big hoop net that is
dropped down in the water beneath the fish. You need about a 50-foot piece
of rope with your Bridge net. (Hint: Get the bridge net beneath the fish
before lifting the head of the fish above the surface.) If you don’t own a
Bridge net or don’t want to buy one, be sure to make friends with someone
that does, before you hook the big one!

Good fishing…

Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 June 2009 18:09