Home Drifting Easy - Fishing Tips What Not to Do When Surf Fishing in Ocean City MD
What Not to Do When Surf Fishing in Ocean City MD

We always write about “what to do” when learning how to do something. But sometimes there are a lot of things “not to do” that are very important, especially when going surf fishing in and around, Ocean City, MD.

DO NOT surf cast on a flat beach. A beach with no holes, sloughs or drop offs can be unproductive. Walk the beach at low tide and look for deeper pools of water close to shore and fish there at high tide. Scan the beach from a higher level such as a condo balcony. Fish always seem to like an area of bottom change. That’s where they feed! They eat bait fish and little crabs and clams on drop-offs, ledges and areas of more turbulent water that is slightly deeper than the surrounding waters. A 3-foot hole at low tide can be a 5-foot hole at high tide, deep enough for fish to swim around in.

Sometimes, there is an outer bar then a drop off. Look for a break in the bar, a riptide (an area of rough water) or a backwash (a funnel of dirty water out there amongst the clean dark water). Areas near rock jetties are usually deeper on one side. Remember, white breaking water is shallow water. Rolling, cresting waves that have not broken yet is deeper water.

The beach itself can be a telltale sign of structure in the surf. A higher pile of sand cut sharply by the waves indicates a rip has come up to the beach and pulled the sand out to sea. Changes in the sand mean changes in the water close by. Look for sand crabs (mole crabs) digging frantically in the wet sand as the waves come in. That’s a sign of natural food out there. The fish will come close to shore at high tide to eat the crabs.

Be careful not to CAST ON THE SAND BAR. Sometimes there is slough with an outer bar. The slough has the deeper water and then there is an outer bar where the water is shallow again. Sometimes the surfcaster thinks he is getting way out there, only be fishing in two feet of water on the bar! If this is the case, I like to cast out there, then slowly retrieve back in so the rig falls off the bar and back into the deeper water. Sometimes you catch fish right on this ledge.

DO NOT cast too hard. Number one biggest problem with beginners is that they try too hard. I always tell novices to work on the quality of the cast, not the distance - that will come naturally. Put the line on the very end of the index finger, so the line will fall naturally off the finger without even thinking about it when casting. So many people tend to fling the rod but forget to let go of the line. The rod tip whips and the rig flies off! Follow through, just like any sport such as golf or tennis. Walk into it and follow through with the motion. Don’t jerk back or stand totally still. Walk into it. Left foot forward, cast and then follow through with the right foot going forward and right arm pointing towards the ocean.

Some people try to wade too far into the ocean to cast. A big wave comes at them and suddenly they are running back to shore! Standing back a little will actually get you more distance because you are not fighting the waves.

DO NOT put too heavy of a line on your reel. The heavier the line, the more resistance you have to the wind and current. The lighter the line, the further you can cast. Use line too heavy and you will cut your casting distance down big time. I can’t tell you how many anglers want to use 25 or 30-pound test monofilament on their reels to go surf fishing. My rule of thumb is use anywhere from 14 to 20-pound test when surf fishing with monofilament. If your surf rod is shorter than 10-feet, don’t go over 17-pound test. If you want a heavier pound test, go to the Spectra Lines such as Power Pro. A 30-pound test Power Pro has an 8-pound test diameter and 50-pound test has a 12 pound test diameter. I use a 20-pound test line that has a 6-pound test diameter on my 9-footer in the summer time. I can cast further and also use less sinker weight. (Smaller diameter line equals less resistance to the current and the wind).

DO NOT use round sinkers in the surf. Hey, they roll right back in with the waves! Always use some kind of pointy kind of sinkers that dig in. Pyramid or Storm sinkers are the most popular. Frog Tongue sinkers offer less resistance when casting. They are very aerodynamic and cast a further distance. I find I need a little more weight to get them to hold though. There are also Sputnik sinkers with the wires that hold when nothing else will work. Only use them when necessary, but always have them in your tackle box.

DO NOT go surf fishing without a sand spike. No matter how you think you will hold the rod and reel and not get it in the sand it will happen! And of course that is the biggest DO NOT! DO NOT get your reel in the sand and DO NOT wash your reel off in the ocean. If your reel accidently gets totally submerged, put it in a bucket of freshwater and immediately get it to a fishing reel service center.

DO NOT fish without bait! Little crabs eat your bait all the time when surf fishing. Even if you have surf floats, they still will get to it. Check your baits and check your bait often. When fishing for little fish like kingfish, spot, croaker and snapper blues, try combo baits rather than just one bait. Lots of people do well with Fish Bite bloodworms. But, if you use a piece of Fish Bites and combo it with a little triangle of squid or bunker, you’ll catch even more!

DO NOT get in a rut of fishing the same street with the same bait. Holes move and fish can change their tastes. Ask advice at the local tackle stores and they’ll steer you in the right direction to the rigs and baits of choice.

A few other DO NOTS? DO NOT fish with your rod and reel in the sand spike without checking your drag. A big fish, ray or shark can pull it into the ocean! (Happened twice last week that I heard of)! DO NOT leave your bait on the beach. Seagulls will steal it in a heart beat. Keep it in a bucket or a cooler.

The biggest DO NOT? DO NOT put your fingers in the mouth of a saltwater fish like you do in freshwater! Lots of our fish have teeth!!!!

Good fishing….

Sue Foster is an outdoor writer and co-owner of Oyster Bay Tackle in Ocean City, MD and Fenwick Tackle in Fenwick, DE.

Last Updated on Saturday, 16 July 2011 09:22