Home Drifting Easy - Fishing Tips How to fish the bulkhead between 2nd and 4th Street...
How to fish the bulkhead between 2nd and 4th Street...

“How do you fish that bulkhead downtown?”

There is a public fishing area along the bayside that runs officially from
2nd through 4th Streets behind the ball park. There is a wood railing that
makes it a safe place for kids. Metered parking is available a few feet from
the bulkhead, making it a great place for handicapped anglers. There’s even
port-a-potties nearby.

That’s the upside. The downside to the bulk headed area is that it is very
snaggy and the tide runs hard through the main channel. Anglers that learn
to fish the bulkhead correctly can catch a lot of fish. Vacationers that
just go down to the bulkhead and throw out a couple rigs and bait can become
frustrated quickly.

“How do you fish it? What do you fish for?”

The bulkhead sits right in front of the main east channel. If you drop
straight down, you will be fishing in fairly deep water. It’s 8 to 15 foot
straight down. If you cast out 10 yards, you can be in 25 foot of water or
even deeper. The water in this deep channel can be very swift. If you try
to cast out into the channel when the tide is running full speed in or out,
your sinker will drift right into the underwater ledge where the bottom juts
up from 25 to 15 feet. There are rocks, mussels, debris, and other angler’s
tangled lines and hooks on this ledge. In other words, there are terrible
snags there!

So, what you want to do is this. When the tide is running really hard, don’t
cast past the ledge. In fact, it is best to merely drop straight down. If
the tide is going out hard, flip your rig out just a little tiny bit so it
doesn’t get snagged on the pilings that are straight down. Yes, it’s a fine
line. Don’t cast out too far. And don’t drop too close to a piling. Pilings
are always bigger at the bottom than they are on the top. So remember, when
you look at a piling, think about all the little mussels and bottom
vegetation growing at its bottom ready to snag your hook. STAY AWAY FROM IT!

Tide is a crucial issue when fishing the bulkhead. The tide runs 6 hours one
way, then turns and runs 6 hours the other way. When the tide is half way in
or half way out the water will be moving very fast and the angler can have a
hard time holding bottom without getting snagged. When the tide is one to
two hours on either side of a slack tide, either low or high, anglers catch
most of the fish. When the tide is not moving much at all, the angler can
even cast out into the main channel and keep his or her rig planted on the
bottom. It’s hard to find places to fish close to shore where the water is
deep. This is one of those places!

“What can you catch there?”

One of the most popular fish to catch at the bulkhead during the spring and
fall seasons is the tautog. Tautog, or blackfish as they are called up
north, are caught between the pilings and the ledge. There’s no sense
casting out past the ledge for tautog, as these bottom dwellers feed on the
mussels, crabs, and little clams in the rocks, debris, and rip rap close to
the bulkhead

Patient anglers fishing the bulkhead learn that the more they move their
rigs around in the snaggy areas, the quicker they will get snagged! The
best technique is to flip your rig where you want it to go, and LEAVE IT
ALONE! I like to cast out just a little, move it back towards me until I
feel it fall into a deeper hole. Then just wait. Don’t move it again until
you get a bite or you want to reel it up and check your bait.

Anglers fishing for tautog use a very simple one-hook rig. I use some
40-pound test monofilament leader and tie a two to three inch double
overhand loop knot for the sinker. I go up about six inches and tie another
double overhand loop knot for the hook. Use loose hooks and simply feed
them through the loop. A short-shanked black hook seems to work best. The
Mustad #2/0 #92553BL Octopus Beak hook is very popular. One good tautog
angler I know likes the Eagle Claw Lazer Sharp L319LG-2/0 Live Bait hook.
He tells me went the snags get really bad, he goes to a smaller 1/0 hook and
it helps cut down on the snags. Tie a small black barrel swivel to the end
of the leader to tie to the end of your line.

Sinkers! Bank sinkers work OK. Flat, cushion, or torpedo shaped sinkers
work best. Round bass cast type sinker tend to roll you right into a snag.
Pyramid sinkers will definitely hang you up quickly if you are fishing in
close. Use just enough sinker weight to hold bottom. Good anglers carry an
array of sinkers from one to three ounces. I use the rubber band trick to
help with snags. On the loop where you insert the sinker, insert a rubber
band instead. Then loop the sinker onto the rubber band. If the sinker
becomes hopelessly snagged, you can pull and break the rubber band and keep
the rest of your rig.
This works out great when you have a nice fish on the hook but can’t bring
it in because your sinker is snagged! (Some anglers use light-weight
monofilament instead of a rubber band.)

The bait! For tautog, green crabs or sand crabs are the most popular baits.
To use a green crab, pull off the shell, cut it in half, and then shove the
hook in the leg socket. Some anglers cut the legs off while some leave them
on. I always cut my off. As for sand crabs, insert the hook through the
apron and let the hook protrude out the outer shell about an eighth of an

“There are a lot of boats fishing close to the bulkhead at slack tide. What
are they fishing for?”

From the draw of the bridge to around Third street is good flounder fishing
in boats. The boats try to get close to the bulkhead at the slacking tide to
catch flounder feeding up on the ledge. So, needless to say, if you fish for
flounder from the bulkhead at the slacking tide you can catch them too.

Since the area has snags it’s best to use very simple rigs. A 30-inch
leadered hook with a three-way swivel and snap for the sinker will work. Or
skip the snap and tie a short piece of lighter weight monofilament to the
3-way and tie on your sinker, so you can break this leader if the sinker
gets snagged. (Or use the rubber band trick!) You can also simply use a
leadered hook and an inexpensive fish finder rig. The plastic of the fish
finder rig will break when you get your sinker snagged. The boaters drifting
by use these a lot. When the tide becomes slack, the angler can try casting
out into the channel. If it starts drifting back in, keep your rod tip up
when reeling in your line. Don’t let it get snagged on the ledge when
retrieving it in.

Bait for flounder? Live minnows or shiners tipped with a strip of squid.

“What else can we catch there?”

There’s always little sea bass for the kids to catch. They bite anything.
Sand crabs, worms, Fish bites, squid and shiners