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Where can I fish in Ocean City, MD Without a License

Where can I fish in Ocean City, MD Without a License

“I’m here in Ocean City for the first time. Do I need a license to go fishing? How about crabbing and clamming?”

Yes, you need a license for fishing. You do not need to license in Ocean City for crabbing or clamming.

“It’s against my principles to buy a license to go fishing!!!”

Well, you’re in luck in Ocean City because there are four “Free Zones” in Ocean City where you do not have to buy a license. In addition to that, if you go on any bay or ocean going head boat or charter boat, you do not have to buy a fishing license. If you rent a boat from a marina, most marinas buy blanket boat fishing licenses for their boats, so you do not have to buy a fishing license. (Be sure to ask in advance.)

That being said, you have plenty of options to fish without a license! I am happy to say that I had some input in asking the state and city to give us at least one free fishing public fishing area. I started writing letters in the spring of 2010 and it became a reality in August of 2012. The Town of Ocean City got behind the tackle stores and the Maryland Fisheries Advisory Committees and pushed hard for free fishing zones. Thanks to the Town of Ocean City! With their support we were given two free public fishing areas where anglers can fish for free in addition to two pay piers that have a blanket license for all their patrons.

“I’ve never been to Ocean City! Where are these places where I can fish with no license?”

The first free fishing location is Northside Park at 125th Street. There’s plenty of free parking and it is convenient for locals and vacationers in North Ocean City. The park has a long pier where anglers can crab and fish. At low tide, folks can walk way out past the end of the pier and find some clams. This pier is not for serious fishermen because it’s just not deep enough, but it’s great for kids and young children since there’s plenty of spot to catch and it is definitely a good crabbing location. You want to fish this pier at high tide so you have the deepest water. At dead low tide, it’s just too shallow. What you want to use at Northside Park is a high/low rig with size #6 or #8 hooks and about a 1 oz. bass cast sinker. Bait up with bloodworm or artificial Fishbite bloodworms. A light action spinning rod or push button outfit is all you need there. It’s a great place for a young child to catch their first fish. Occasionally an angler catches something bigger from the end of the pier at high tide. We’ve had some reports of red drum, bluefish or big rays. It’s unusual, but it does happen, especially early in the morning or towards dusk.

The second free fishing zone is the Bulkhead between 2nd and 4th Streets on the bayside. This is where the city ballfield is located and the city skateboard rink. There’s meter parking here and some free parking along St. Louis Ave. It’s very convenient because you can drive right up to the fishing area and keep your extra tackle right in the trunk of your car or the bed of your truck. It is handicapped accessible as well. The water is deep here so you can fish straight down. There are snags in this area, so bring plenty of tackle and avoid casting out into the hard running current. Use sinkers in the 1 to 3 oz. range and ONLY cast out into the main channel if the tide is slack. That only happens for about 45 minutes every six hours. The rest of the time, fish straight down and do not move your rig a lot. You can fish for almost anything from the bulkhead. There’s flounder for anglers fishing with live minnows, frozen shiners or squid strips.

There’s tautog and triggerfish for anglers fishing with sand fleas, peelers or clam. Spot and croaker are available there for anglers using small hooks and bloodworms, Fishbite bloodworms or night crawlers. Little strips of squid will catch you sea bass and other small fish that the kids can catch and release. There’s strange and ugly fish caught there also! Blowfish, stargazers, oyster toads… And there’s surprise catches of puppy drum, sheepshead, bluefish and even stripers.
When you fish these two areas, anyone 16 or over is supposed to obtain a free Maryland Registry. Simply call 1-855-855-3906. They will give you a number and you just write it down. You can also do this online at https://compass.dnr.maryland.gov/dnrcompassportal

If you fish one of the two pay piers in Ocean City, you do not need to get a free registry because the pier will take down your name and phone number for you. You have to pay to get on the pier, but you do not need to buy a fishing license. If you are out of state, it costs less to buy a fishing pass than it costs to buy a weekly license ($12).

The Oceanic Pier is located at the southernmost end of Philadelphia Ave. Look for the Oceanic Motel and the big sign that says Oceanic Pier. The pier juts out into the bay near the Ocean City Inlet. Anglers here do best during the incoming tide. Most serious anglers target flounder here. Anglers fish for them with live minnows or frozen shiners. You can catch plenty of little fish all day with small hooks and bloodworms or artificial bloodworms. At night the fare is blues, shad and trout with spec rigs and Got-cha Plugs.

The Ocean Pier runs parallel to the Ocean City Inlet. You can catch anything from the Ocean Pier that you catch from the surf. Use kingfish rigs with bloodworms or Fishbite bloodworms for kingfish, spot and croaker. Use squid strips for croaker, sharks and big rays. You can also pick up some flounder using shiners and squid strips. Sometimes anglers catch pompano near the pilings with sabiki rigs baited with worms.

If you don’t want to buy a fishing license, there’s no excuse not to go fishing in Ocean City, Maryland! There’s plenty of opportunity!

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, 22 April 2014 19:52