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Surf Fishing Early Fall in Ocean City, MD

Drifting Easy


Surf Fishing In the Early Fall In Ocean City, MD




Lots of people come down to enjoy Ocean City, Maryland's second season. Anglers staying in oceanfront condos may decide that “surf fishing” might be their “cup of tea.” It’s easy because all they have to do is grab their fishing gear, walk up to the beach and go fishing. They don’t have to drive anywhere or worry about a bunch of snags. Anglers fishing the beach can watch sunrises that are gorgeous and enjoy the crispness of a late summer evening.

Many anglers think that since “summer” is over we suddenly have a run of big fish, like stripers. Well, that just doesn’t happen overnight in Ocean City, so don’t get out the “big hooks” just yet unless you are after sharks and big rays. Assateague might see some red drum, but in Ocean City, it’s rather rare to get into a large one.

“So what’s biting in the surf in early fall?”

Snapper blues are the fun fish to catch. They are usually pretty plentiful, easy to catch and tasty in the frying pan if you skin them and eat them fresh. I like to use a high/low surf rig with two Styrofoam floats on the rig. Sea Striker makes the DT34 and DT34S Fire Ball bluefish rigs that work just fine. These rigs are made out of 40 lb. mono or nylon coated wire. The 3/4-inch float models have #4 plated hooks. They have a #5 swivel at the top and a #6 link or #5 snap for sinker attachment. The “S” stands for “steelon.” I personally like the monofilament leadered rig as it doesn’t kink up after a day’s fishing. Snapper blues rarely bite through the mono leader when surf fishing. It’s only those big three footers that do that, and we rarely have that size fish this time of year in the surf!

Attach a 3 to 5-ounce pyramid or hurricane sinker to the snap and put some cut bait on the two hooks. My favorite cut baits are finger mullet cut into one inch chunks, fresh or frozen bunker filleted and cut into strips, or fresh spot or bluefish caught from the surf and cut into strips. Another very popular bait is good old fashioned “box squid.” I know there are squid strips that are easy to use and very convenient, but box squid is American squid with the smell of squid ink and squid guts that fish really like. Cut a triangle of the squid with the skin still on it for surf fishing and you can catch just about anything with it.

The nice part about the Sea Striker Fireball Rig is the size #4 hooks are still small enough to catch kingfish, ling cod or croaker. Kingfish, also called Sea Mullet or Whiting, seem to prefer fresh pieces of cut bait as the season progresses into fall. Bloodworms and Fishbite Bloodworms still work for these good eating fish, but don’t be afraid to try cut bait as well. Kings usually like a small strip of bait over a “chunk.” The kings this time of year tend to be more of the Southern variety that like other baits as opposed to just worms. If in doubt, use the worms or FishBites, but dress the worm bait up with a little strip of cut bait on the same hook.

Regardless, snapper blues are bait stealers, so you want to keep the rod in your hands. A nice medium-action rod in the 8 to 10-foot range is all you need this time of year. If you are fishing with an 11-footer, grab your lighter action one. Cast out and wait for the bite. As soon as you get the bite try to set the hook. Keep bouncing it back towards the shore as you are getting bites. Blues can be quick!

If you get out there and the blues are really biting, you may want to try a “Mullet Rig.” With a “mullet rig” you can fish a whole finger mullet. Even if the blues are small, this rig can really work well. A “mullet rig” is made with a split, double-hook that can be removed from a piece of stainless wire, allowing the angler to push the rig through the mouth of a finger mullet and out the anus. The hook is then reattached. The hook always lies near the tail of the finger mullet. When the bluefish bites the finger mullet, hopefully it will make contact with the sharp double hook.

Mullet rigs are made with brightly colored floats that lift the bait off the bottom floor away from troublesome crabs. You can fish this rig all day without crabs stealing your bait. These rigs come ready-to-fish with a monofilament leader and a 3-way swivel and a snap for the sinker. Be sure to use a snap swivel at the end of your line so the 3-way swivel does not twist around and tangle your rig. Always take extra hooks with you as occasionally you can lose the hook if the fish takes a sharp turn or if slack gets in your line. Keeping tension on your line once you get a "bite" will solve that problem. Regardless, it is always a good idea to purchase a couple spare hooks when you buy these rigs. I like to use a size #1/0 or #2/0 this time of year for the snapper blues.

Snapper blues may come by and take a quarter or half of your mullet. Don’t put on a new one yet. Throw it back out there and wait for another bite. Keep bouncing it back in towards shore and jerk your rod tip to set the hook when you get a bite.

Sometimes we catch nice flounder in the surf in September. Use your mullet rig, but chisel off the surf float. Cast it out, and slowly bring it in towards the shore. Keep it slowly moving for flounder. You can also use a simple, single leadered flounder rig with a strip of any kind of cut bait. No float. Cast it out, and slowly bounce it back towards shore.


Fishing in the fall. What fun!


Good Fishing....

Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 December 2011 18:32