Home Drifting Easy - Fishing Tips It’s transition time…in Ocean City, MD.. Fall Fishing
It’s transition time…in Ocean City, MD.. Fall Fishing

It’s transition time…in Ocean City, MD.. Fall Fishing

As the summer winds down and the days get shorter fishing starts to change. Some of your old haunts aren’t producing. Some of your good summer baits aren’t working. It’s time to change some of your fishing tactics to the fall mode. It’s transition time….

“Flounder” are still here, but they are gearing up for the migration out into the ocean. In fact, many of the larger flounder are already out there. Many anglers with bigger boats are mugging up on some tasty flounder fillets by drifting over the popular artificial reef sites such as the African Queen, Great Eastern and even Fenwick Shoals. Even the inshore reefs, such as Russell’s Reef, have been producing flounder.

Anglers are drifting high/low rigs with success when the current is moving. When the current is slacking, anglers are really doing well with Spro bucktail jigs baited up with a 5-inch Gulp! artificial bait, a long strip of squid, or better yet, fresh fillet of flounder, croaker, sea robin, dolphin, mullet, bluefish or spot. Basically any kind of fresh fillet of fish (with the skin on) will make a great “strip” bait for flounder offshore.

If you can’t get offshore, flounder are still in the bay. You just have to play their migration game. Fishing the tides becomes very important. The last hour of the high, incoming tide and the first hour of the high, outgoing tide will catch you most of the keepers. Fish close to the Route 50 Bridge as the flounder are moving towards the inlet. Denny Blessing of Oyster Bay Tackle caught four keeper flounder last week, all within a one-hour time frame!

Flounder “stack up” close to the Rt. 50 Bridge as the tide starts to go out. There are rocks and shallower areas right under the bridge, and as they try to get out towards the inlet, the flounder look for the deeper channels. The main East Channel, under the draw of the Bridge, is the biggest opening. That’s why we see so many pictures of big flounder caught “near the Cement Plant” or in front of the “Lazy Lizard”! (That’s the bar/restaurant on first street.)
The Inlet itself produces some pretty good catches of flounder when the tide is slacking. The Oceanic Pier usually has some abundant catches of flounder this time of year, as all these fish move around the corner to head offshore. Sometimes, many of these fish are small. You just have to weed through them. Fish the slacking tides, and use big baits to catch bigger flounder. Local anglers spend hours castnetting bait such as peanut bunker and live mullet. Live spot are caught on hook and line with tiny hooks and bloodworms or Fishbite bloodworms.

Anglers from the shore work the Route 50 Bridge, the Bulkhead from 2nd through 4th Street and the 9th Street Pier to catch keeper flounder on their way out of the bay. The current runs so hard in some of these great flounder producing areas that the only way you can catch them is to fish the slacking tides. Fishing at low tide works too!

Areas of slower, moving tides such as the Route 90 Bridge, Thorofare and the Convention Hall Channel can suddenly become a “dead” zone for flounder catches. Everything seems to move to the Rt. 50 Bridge/Inlet area in the East Channel!

“How about the surf!”

All summer long we caught kingfish, spot and small croaker with bloodworms and Fishbite bloodworms on small hooks. Suddenly as schools of baitfish migrate down the coast, these fish can all but disappear in a heartbeat. Suddenly, we have feisty snapper bluefish to take their place. Anglers switch from kingfish rigs to bluefish rigs and start catching them. A finger mullet rig baited with a whole finger mullet works great as the season changes. It’s transition time!

You can still take along the small rigs and bloodworms, but be sure to take along some cut bait as well! Box squid, mullet, spot and bunker all make excellent cut bait in the surf. Keeper flounder can be caught in the surf this time of year. Take your favorite flounder rig, put on a pyramid sinker and cast out as far as you can. Bait up with nice strips of cut bait, and ever so slowly, bump your rig back in towards the shore. I’ve even had luck with a mullet rig. I take off, or break off, the float and use it floatless. Cast the mullet rig out, and slowly retrieve in towards the shore. Flounder like clean water and a little dip or slough in the beach.

Puppy drum will show up in the surf this time of year and stick around until late November. We had a great run on them last year. They like a simple high/low rig, no floats and cut bait. They will also take bloodworms, clam, peelers and Fishbite clam, or crab in the orange or chartreuse colors. Many anglers last year did great using sand crabs they dug up on the beach and combined them with a piece of orange or chartreuse Fishbite. Others hung a 3 or 4-inch strip of Fishbite on the hook, then put on a chunk of clam, and then hooked the other end of the Fishbite on the hook. This helps hold the soft clam on the hook since the Fishbite has mesh. This works for any kind of surf bait that is hard to keep on the hook such as sand crabs, peeler crab, bunker and clam.

What a great idea!

Many anglers think that just because Labor Day arrives, the big stripers should be in the surf. We wish this was the case, but you have to wait a while for them. Usually, in October and November, we’ll see them. Meanwhile, there will be some schoolies around and maybe a keeper or two. Most of the keepers will be around the Route 50 Bridge at night, the Indian River Inlet and the Ocean City Inlet. It’s time to use those large, live spot that are too big for the flounder. Live eels, live mullet and even a handful of live sand fleas floated out into the inlet will catch you stripers!

Transition time! The tautog that were small all summer long, increase in size and come back around to the Inlet, Rt. 50 Bridge, the bulkhead at 2nd thru 4th Streets, the end of 6th Street, the Oceanic Pier and even the 9th Street Pier. They like sections of green crab or sand fleas. They’ll also take clam or shrimp. This time of year, anglers are torn whether to fish for flounder or tautog. Well, the tautog fishing only gets better, while the flounder fishing will slow down after mid-October. Pick one, and GO FOR IT!

It’s transition time… to fall fishing…enjoy!!!!

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 20:07