Home Drifting Easy - Fishing Tips “Some like ‘em big. Some like ‘em little!”
“Some like ‘em big. Some like ‘em little!”

“Some like ‘em big. Some like ‘em little!”

I get all kinds of folks coming into my tackle stores looking for action on the beach. Some want to only catch a big fish, no matter what species it is. Others want to catch a big striper or “bust”. Still others don’t care what they catch as long as something is shaking on the other end of the line. A big ray or skate will get their adrenalin going! Then there are those guys or gals that would just as soon catch a 14-inch snapper blue or a 12-inch kingfish to eat rather than horse in a dozen big sharks.

“I just want to catch a big striper from the beach!”

Catching a big striper on the beach can be a waiting game. But, if that’s what you want to do, now’s the time of year to do it! While you are waiting you may also tie into some big dog sharks, a big ray, a skate or possibly a black drum. It’s hard to avoid the rays and skates but if you don’t want to catch them, don’t use squid!

Bait of choice for the big stripers is bunker. Fresh bunker is preferred, but frozen will work fine as long as it is freshly frozen and used the same day as you thaw it out. Please don’t try to re-freeze bunker as it gets mushy. Don’t let your fresh bunker lay in the cooler in melting ice. Keep the cooler drained, or keep the bunker in a plastic bag (freezer zip lock bags are the best!)

Use a striper rig with no surf floats. Wire leaders are not necessary. A couple of my customers who catch nice stripers from the Ocean City beach like the plain high/low rigs made by Eagle Claw. These rigs have a loop at the bottom for the sinker with two hooks (5/0-6/0) with fairly short leaders for the bait. The whole rig is made out of heavy duty monofilament. Don’t be afraid to use rigs with short leaders as they are easier to cast when using chunks of bait. Some of the striper rigs hanging on a tackle store wall are for drift fishing and have about a 36-inch leader! Way too long for trying to cast off the beach. If you buy one of those by accident, cut some of the leader off and re-tie it so you can cast it comfortably. The long leader doesn’t bother the fish, just the fisherman!

Aqua-Clear makes a couple of nice high/low striper rigs as well. Lone Ranger makes some single rigs with an “easy cast” mechanism that’s worth looking at. Otherwise, you can simply get a heavy duty top-and-bottom rig and buy a pack of leadered circle hooks or Octopus Multi-Purpose hooks in the 4/0 to 8/0 size range and make up your own rig.

The good ol’ fish finder rig is great for stripers. The rig is so simple it’s often overlooked. Slip the plastic sleeve of a fish finder rig on your line coming off your fishing rod. Attach a barrel swivel or a snap swivel to the end of your line, and attach a leadered hook (4/0 to 9/0) to your barrel swivel or snap swivel. Put your sinker on the snap attached to the fish finder. The whole point of a fish finder rig is when Mr. Striper picks up the chunk of bait and starts to swim away with it the sinker stays on the bottom for a moment or two as the line moves thru the plastic sleeve of the fish finder. The fish does not feel the weight of the sinker so it does not get spooked and does not drop the bait.

“How do I cut the bunker?”

Cut the tail off and cut the bait straight thru with the knife. This piece next to the tail is very boney and stays on the best! Use a good-sized bait, at least 4 inches. Chunk the rest of the bait as you need it using a sharp knife so it doesn’t mush up the meat. Hook it thru the dark side of the meat which is tougher. Some people use the head of the bunker on a big hook. If your hook is on the small side, don’t try to use the head. The point of the hook needs to be exposed, not buried. Most anglers hook the head thru the jaw.

“What street in Ocean City should I fish on?”

Well, you just have to go and look at the beach at low tide and try to find some cuts, deeper pools of water close to shore, rips or back wash of dirty water amongst the clean water just offshore. Rock jetties usually have deep water on one side. Go back and fish these areas at high tide. If it’s low tide, just get out there as far as you can and cast as far as possible. Then, just put the rod in the rod holder and wait! Structure of the beach changes all the time. Time of day is important also. First light and last light of the day can produce fish coming close to shore looking for sand crabs and other critters to eat.


Some people like to use salted clam for bait for stripers and it works. It’s harder to keep on, and I’d say more people use bunker, but still, it’s worth trying. You can buy elastic sewing thread to help hold it on. We carry a brand by “Atlas” called “Magic Thread”.

“I want to catch sharks and skates!”

Fish the same way as you would for the stripers. If you’re catching sharks and skates you’re in a likely hole for a striper as well. It’s a waiting game with no guarantees. If you are the antsy type and get tired of waiting for the big fish, you can fish with two or even three rods! (Or more if you want. There’s no law against it!) Just make sure the drags are set and the sand spikes are jammed hard into the sand. Cast out a smaller bluefish high/low rig or a kingfish high/low rig baited with smaller strips of bunker, bloodworm, squid or bloodworm Fish Bites.

Besides stripers, sharks and skates, there are snapper blues, blowfish and maybe some tasty kingfish to be caught as well! Cast a rod out with a whole finger mullet on a mullet rig and see if there’s any decent sized bluefish around. A few weeks ago a guy was fishing at the Oceanic Pier with a whole mullet rig for bluefish and came up with a 36-inch striper!

You just never know…. that’s fishin’!

Good fishing….

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