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Fishing and Crabbing 101 in Ocean City, MD

Fishing and Crabbing 101 in Ocean City, MD

There were a lot of people in town last week that had never been to Ocean City and had never even been fishing or crabbing before. It’s great to see new people join the sport of fishing and crabbing! Many took up the sport because the weather was too cloudy to sit on the beach all day and the kids were driving them crazy. Regardless, if one enjoys the sport and has a good time, they may come back and do it again!

“Is it expensive?”

It’s only as expensive as you make it. Many vacationers come into our stores to rent a rod and reel because they do not want to buy one. But by the time you rent a rod and reel for 3 or 4 days, it’s nearly the same price as owning one. You can buy a small bay outfit for not much more than a 20-dollar bill. You can buy a surf fishing outfit in the range of two, 20-dollar bills!
I’ve been asked over the phone exactly what it would cost to rent a rod and go fishing for a day. I’ve been asked that question so many times that I’ve gotten out the calculator and figured it out, trying to go on the high side so no one would be upset if it cost less than my quote. A surf rod and reel rental, two rigs and sinkers and two kinds of bait that includes bloodworms (the most expensive bait) would run around $35. I hate to sell someone just one rig. What if you get all the way out to the beach and fling it off on a bad cast? Then you have to get in your car, drive to a tackle store, find a parking place, go into the store, wait in line and buy another rig. That’s a lot of work to save $5 bucks!

To rent a rod to fish in the bay you will spend slightly less than the $35. It could be more like $27 to $30 if you buy two kinds of bait that aren’t bloodworms and three rigs with sinkers. Buying extra rigs to fish in the bay is more important than extra rigs in the surf because there are more snags. I always suggest three rigs per person unless you are fishing at Northside Park that has few snags. Then I suggest two rigs.

If you rent a rod and reel from a tackle store, prepare to leave a deposit of either cash or credit card. Just because it is rental equipment does not mean you shouldn’t take care of it! Please don’t wash or drop a rental rod in the sand or ocean. (We provide sand spikes with our surf rentals in our stores.) Washing off a sandy reel in the ocean to get rid of the evidence before returning it to the tackle store will cause the reel not to work within a few days. The clerk will know right away that the reel is full of sand when he cranks the reel to make sure it’s ok. You can hear the grinding sound of gears and sand!

That being said, if you decide to buy an inexpensive rod and reel to get you through a half-week of fishing vacation, it’s important to take care of it by not dropping or washing it in the ocean or bay. That’s the number one, most important advice we try to give everyone in our tackle stores. If you go surf fishing, or any place where there’s sand (like Homer Gudelsky Park) or down by the Inlet, you want to invest in a sand spike so your reel doesn’t fall in the sand.

I had a customer tell me that I was “sucking his wallet dry” when I suggested a sand spike to go along with his $40 surf outfit he was buying. I was just trying to give him sound advice and help him protect his investment. GEEEZ!

Whether you are renting or buying a rod and reel, my second most important advice is to ask questions. If you have never fished and do not know how to use it, there are no manuals in the box that tell you how. In fact, these days, most inexpensive combinations come pre-mounted (rod and reel already put together) and there’s no box at all! The tackle store clerk can tie on a snap swivel, clip on a sinker and show you how to operate the rod and reel. If it’s busy, you may have to wait while other customers are being waited on, but it would be worth your time to learn before going out on the beach or pier totally clueless. We’d much rather show you before you go than straighten up a big snarl of line later. You’ve lost fishing time and are frustrated and that’s not the experience we want you to have!

Ask us! That’s what we are there for!

I was working in one of my stores a couple weeks ago. It was a very busy day in August and I had myself and two other employees behind the counter, both of which are avid fishermen. A customer came in and started asking every customer he saw how to fish and what to use. Many were very helpful and were giving him lots of advice, some of which had me shaking my head. I finally, politely, took the man by the hand and introduced him to one of my star employees that knew everything the man needed to know. He spent a half hour with him and helped him out tenfold. Later, after carefully listening to customers talking to both of us and other customers, I realized that some people are afraid that the employee will “pile them up” with unnecessary items to make a big sale. That was why they were asking other customers and not my employees or myself. I had one customer thank us last week for not “piling me up with a bunch of junk!” Well, I can speak for most tackle stores in the Ocean City area and we just want people to go fishing, enjoy the experience and come again. Overselling is not part of what we do. Don’t be afraid to ask us!

Many people ask us about renting crabbing equipment. Some stores might rent crabbing stuff, but we do not because it’s just so inexpensive to buy. Crab lines, bait and a net can be bought for a 20-dollar bill. A couple of really good traps, line and bait can be bought for around 30 bucks. And yes, most tackle shops sell chicken necks. You don’t have to go to the grocery store!

Good fishing and crabbing….

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 20:05