Home Drifting Easy - Fishing Tips Fishing the Thorofare in Ocean City MD
Fishing the Thorofare in Ocean City MD

“I want to go fishing in my boat. Where is the Thorofare everyone is talking about?”

Last year, the Thorofare was not the hot spot for flounder at all. In fact, it was more like the “dead zone.” But so far this year, the famous Thorofare is still famous and anglers are pulling them in!

If you are a shore fisherman, sorry, but there is no way you can get to this place. You have to be in a boat.

Where is it located? The Thorofare resides on the western shore of the bay, just off an old residential development called Captain’s Hill. If you could run straight across the bay from the east to west (which you can’t) it would be across from 22nd Street in Ocean City. Just north of Captain’s Hill is Cape Isle of Wight. This whole area from Buoy #6 to Buoy #16 is casually called the “Thorofare”.

Several nice homes are built right on the Thorofare which is actually a deep, swift moving channel running to over 20 feet deep. Many flounder are actually caught north of the deep channel where deeper water flows into the skinny channel from Buoys #8 to #16. Flounder are also caught anywhere the water slopes upward from 20 feet to 6 feet. They call this the “flats.” The deepest hole in the Thorofare is around 32 feet.

Flounder love to feed in areas of dramatic bottom changes and you see plenty of that in the area of the Thorofare. Any time you drift an underwater slope that gradually goes from 30 feet to 6 feet you will usually find flounder feeding. Anglers drift the east edge of the Thorofare along the deep edge of a sandy, underwater bar. Be careful here, or you can find yourself suddenly aground! There’s also an old shipwreck in the deep water of the Thorofare that attracts flounder (and also a few snags.)

Regardless, a lot of people call a lot of area the Thorofare. So, always take it with a grain of salt. Some anglers are fishing close to the Route 90 Bridge and call it the Thorofare for lack of knowing what to call the waters they are fishing in!

Try different drifts. Drift from the green marshes towards the buoy markers. Try the deep water close to the houses when the tide is slacking, but when the current starts moving too hard, fish further north in the waters that are not moving so fast. When the water is at maximum high tide, don’t be afraid to fish those “flats”, in water 6 to 8 feet deep. When the tide is high and just starts out, start in the water that is 6 feet deep and drift south towards the water that is around 20 feet deep and you’ll cover lots of territory with changing bottom depths.

If you own a smaller boat and hate fishing in the main East Channel with the wakes of big boats rocking you around, the area north of the Thorofare between Buoys #10 and #16 is for you!

“I launch my boat at the Commercial Harbor in West Ocean City. How do I get to the Thorofare?”

As you exit the Commercial Harbor, head towards the East Channel in front of the Coast Guard Station. Go north under the draw of the Route 50 Bridge and follow the main East Channel to approximately 9th Street where you hang a left between the red and green markers towards the North West. Just follow the buoys until you come up on the nice houses on your left, built right on the Thorofare channel. One house is yellow. One house towards the north is four stories. Two houses have pools. Some are bulk headed. Others have rocks with riprap instead of a bulkhead. Never try to cut directly across the bay from the east, as there is a huge sandbar in the middle of the bay!

If you are coming from North Ocean City, go under the main channel of the Route 90 Bridge and head southwest towards the first buoy you can see in the distance.

The main Thorofare, along with the flats and channels north of the Thorofare, are great flounder spots in the spring because the water is slightly warmer than the water closer to the Ocean City Inlet. Flounder feed on lots of natural baits back there like grass shrimp, minnows and crabs. Don’t be afraid to try pink color artificial baits and lures in the spring, since pink is the color of underwater grass shrimp.

Since the waters on the flats are not real deep, you can fish lighter rods with less weight. One and 1 1/2 ounce bass cast sinkers are usually all you need if the wind isn’t blowing too much. Have the 2 and 3 oz. sinkers ready just in case your drift is too fast from the wind. Small bucktails and lead heads tipped with a minnow and a 4-inch Gulp! in white, pink or chartreuse is a popular bait combination to use when fishing the flats. One-quarter ounce spec rigs baited with a couple of live minnows can be hot there also.
Besides flounder, bluefish run in this area so always keep your eye peeled for breaking fish and diving birds. Jig your baited flounder rigs up and down if you see the blues working. Some of the fish are good-sized in the spring and can save your day if the flounder aren’t biting!

Sometimes the slur and grass on the bottom can get bad in the spring. If you start dragging up yucky, green stuff on the bottom with your bucktail or lead head, switch over to a simple monofilament high/low rig. It will drag up less slur on the bottom. I’ve even taken off my snap swivel and/or sinker snap so the slur doesn’t grab a hold of it when drifting along. The less hardware the better when the slur moves in!
When’s the best time to catch flounder in the Thorofare?

The last two or three hours of the incoming and the first one or two hours of the outgoing. Don’t be afraid of low tide. One hour on either side of low tide will also work. You’ll probably want to stick to the deeper channel for fishing during the low tide. And be careful! Watch out for the sandbars when navigating!

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 Tuesday, 11 June 2013 18:42