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What kind of hooks should I use in Ocean City, MD

Drifting Easy by Sue Foster


“What kind of hooks should I use when fishing in Ocean City, MD and surrounding areas?”


Anglers new to our area are always asking that question.  One of the best selling hooks in our store is the Octopus leadered hook.  I often wondered, “Why do these hooks sell so good?” Then I realized that the package says, “All purpose hooks.”  Anglers not sure what to buy were grabbing these hooks because the package implied that it works for everything!


So we’ll start with Octopus styled hooks. What are they really good for?  I like them because they are easy to get out of a fishes’ mouth. They have a little bit of shank to them and they flutter naturally in the water since they are not long shanked like a Pacific Bass hook. Octopus hooks in the larger sizes (3/0 to 9/0) are good for striped bass. The 1/0 to 3/0 size is popular for tautog.  The smaller sizes (#4 to #1) are really small and can be used for spot and croaker, but are harder to extract from the fish since they run really small.


“How about summer flounder?”


I prefer a Kahle or Wide Gap type hook.  These hooks are great for using live bait such as live minnows.  They are also popular for sea bass fishing. Capt Monty on the Morning Star prefers using Kahle hooks as they hook the fish and if you use the larger sized hooks they rarely get swallowed.  He uses size 4/0 most of time. He slips down to a 3/0 for croaker in the summertime.


In our bays, anglers tend to use the Kahle (or also called wide gap hooks) in the #1/0,  #2/0, and #3/0 size range. If you set your hook soon after the fish bites, the wide gap hook usually hooks the flounder in the corner of the mouth.


“What do you use a Pacific Bass hook for?”


Pacific bass hooks are long shank hooks that were all we used “back in the day!” Now they are a total “no-no” for fishing for flounder because they are way more likely to be swallowed by the flounder. Anglers these days use them for toothy critter that may bite through your leader. Bluefish and blowfish are two of these fish. Anglers fishing the surf use the wire-leadered  Pacific Bass hooks a lot. For blues, anglers use size #3/0 to #1 depending on the size of the fish. Mono leadered Pacific Bass hooks are popular for croaker (#4) and whiting (#6) and spot (#8 or #6). These fish don’t tend to swallow these hooks.


Almost everyone agrees that Circle Hooks are the hook of choice for “Catch and Release” and for catching fish that have a large size limit where you are releasing way more fish than you are keeping.  Fish with large mouths that will likely swallow a regular hook are striped bass, red drum and protected sharks. There are hundreds of varieties of Circle Hooks, loose and leadered, that are popular hooks for fishing for these types of fish. Basically, they are shaped like a circle with a little curved tip near the point of the hook that tells you it is a circle hook. Sometimes you have to look closely.  If in doubt, read the package.


For big mouthed fish such as striped bass and drum, use a larger circle hook from 4/0 to 10/0. Small circle hooks used on big fish can still get swallowed!


Some anglers like to use circle hooks for everything and that is fine. Size #6 or #4 circle hooks can be used for kingfish (whiting). Size #4 to #2 is popular for croaker.  Flounder, bluefish and trout like a #2/0 to #4/0 circle hook.


One thing you got to remember when fishing with circle hooks. Don’t set the hook! Just start reeling when you feel the weight of the fish. When fishing, try to remember if you have a circle hook or a regular hook on the end of your line. If you switch back and forth, you’re bound to forget once in a while and “darn!” lose a fish.


“What’s a bait holder hook?”


Bait holder hooks have two little barbs on the shank to help hold the bait on the hook. These hooks are popular for threading on baits that are soft and hard to keep on the hook like clam, worms and bunker chunks.  Small sizes (#6 and #4) are really popular for fresh water fishing or fishing for spot for bait. Larger sizes are good for stripers and drum (#3/0 to #6/0). Size #2 or #4 is good for croaker.


There are thousands of hooks out there on the market and many brands are represented such as Eagle Claw, Owner, Mustad, and Gamakatsu. Laser sharp hooks are always a good choice if you are making your own rigs. A dull hook is not your friend when it comes to fishing. Many hooks come in different colors as well. It’s not usually a big deal whether a hook is black, gold, nickel, or red, but we do find that anglers prefer black for tautog and stripers. Some anglers like gold hooks over nickel for flounder.


If you are an experienced angler, experiment around with different hooks till you find the one that is right for you. A lot depends on how you fish, and how quick you are to grab the rod and set the hook (even if you don’t mean to!!!) 


An appropriate sized hook is important when fishing for certain species. Note that hook sizes go like this: from smallest to largest. 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1, 1/0, 2/0, 3/0, 4/0, 5/0, 6/0, 7/0, 8/0, 9/0, 10/0, 11/0, 12/0.    Size 10 is tiny. Size 12/0 is huge.  I can’t tell you how many times novices come in to buy a size #2 and grab a #2/0. That would be 4 sizes bigger than they meant to buy. If in doubt, ask the helpful tackle store clerk! We usually know!


Good fishing….

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 May 2011 09:20