Vol 38 | Num 9 | Jun 26, 2013
Article by Sue Foster
“I have an elderly angler that wants to go fishing for a few hours!”
We always get questions about easy access for elderly or handicapped anglers. Ocean City is blessed with several “easy to get to” fishing areas. One of the best spots is the bulkhead between 2nd the 4th Streets, also known as “Chicago Ave.” This is also a free fishing zone, so anglers don’t need to buy a fishing license. Anglers are required to obtain a free registry. We can do that for you at Oyster Bay Tackle or you can call 1-855-855-3906 between 7 AM and 7 PM.
You can drive your car within a few feet of the bulkhead and be fishing in minutes. You do have to pay for parking if you park on Chicago Ave. The city has a giant meter on Chicago Avenue where you can swipe a credit card and put the receipt on your dash. If you park on the side streets, parking is free.
The whole secret to the Chicago Avenue fishing area is to fish straight down when the current is running hard. If you cast way out when the tide is barreling though the deep main channel, you will get hung up time and time again. Only cast out when the tide is slacking. This only lasts about 45-minutes every 6 hours. You have pretty deep-water fishing straight down. It’s at least 8 to 15 feet deep next to the bulkhead. When you cast into the channel during a slacking tide, you can find water that is over 30 feet deep. There’s a ledge that drops down about 6 to 8 feet out from the bulkhead. This is where you can get hung up if you cast out during a running tide. (Hint: When you cast out during a slacking tide, use enough weight to hold your rig out in the channel. When checking your bait or bringing in a fish, keep your rod tip up and reel in fast.)
“What kind of fish can we catch from the Bulkhead at 2nd through 4th Streets?”
There is just a multitude of fish that can be caught there. It’s the main East Channel and any fish that comes into the bay behind Ocean City swims past your line. Flounder, tautog, bluefish, croaker, little sea bass (never a keeper), Norfolk spot, triggerfish, sheepshead, drum and even an occasional striper or weakfish are all possibilities. The fish most anglers target here are flounder (with live minnows or shiners), tautog and triggerfish (which like sand fleas) and croaker or spot (with bloodworms or Fishbite bloodworms).
Since the bulkhead is a snaggy place, keep your rigs simple. A single leadered hook and a sinker is your best bet. I like to use the lighter weight, freshwater snelled hooks so if you get hung up, you can pull and break the leader and save your sinker! If you are a novice, the simplest rig to put together is to buy a three-way-swivel with a snap attached for the sinker. Attach the leadered hook to one eye of the three-way-swivel, put a sinker on the snap (1 to 3 oz.), and tie your line to the last eye of the three-way-swivel. This is a standard rig that is used when targeting all types of fish.
“Where else can we fish?”
The public pier at 9th Street is another easy place to take an elderly or handicapped angler. The city fathers have built a nice ramp there that is wheel chair accessible. You do have to park on a side street anywhere you can find parking place. It is close to the water and the pier is short. It does get crowded and you do need to obtain a fishing license. All the different types of fish you catch from the bulkhead at 2nd though 4th Street can also be caught from the 9th Street Pier. It doesn’t have as many snags as the bulkhead and sits off the main channel a bit. For larger fish like flounder, it’s best to cast off the end of the pier (to the left is best) and reel in ever so slowly across the bottom and work your rig back in. Lots of small fish can be caught straight down. You can also catch crabs here.
The Oceanic Pier is handicap and wheelchair accessible. This pay pier is located at the southernmost end of Ocean City and is also a free fishing zone, meaning you don’t need a license. You do not have to bother with the free registry either, as the pier will write down your info and enter it in for you. Parking gets a little tight when special events are going on so it’s best to go early, park in front and wheel or walk your friend to the entrance. The friendly staff at the Oceanic Pier will assist you with parking. If there are parking places in the Oceanic Motel parking lot, they will give you a free pass. If not, they will direct you to the closest municipal pay parking lot. All the fish mentioned earlier can be caught from the Oceanic Pier by day. At night, anglers can cast lures such as spec rigs and Gotcha Plugs for sea trout, bluefish and shad. You can also use live bait at night for croaker and whatever else swims by.
The Ocean City Fishing Pier is also handicap and wheelchair accessible. This is also a pay pier, but like the Oceanic Pier, you do not have to have a license or free registry. The Pier will take care of those details for you. The Ocean City Fishing Pier is located at 4th Street and the boardwalk and runs out into the ocean. You can park in the Inlet parking lot and walk or wheel up on the pier, or you can park somewhere on Wicomico Street (a little less for parking fees) and walk or wheel directly up to the pier. Anything you can catch from the surf can be caught from the pier. Norfolk spot, croaker, bluefish, sharks, skates, drum, kingfish, blowfish, shad and even pompano can be caught from the Ocean Pier. I like to use a kingfish rig with a combination bait of bloodworm or Fishbite Bloodworm with a little strip of box squid on the same hook. Once I catch a legal bluefish or a Norfolk spot, I fillet and strip it and use that with the bloodworm bait. If you really don’t want to catch the sharks and skates, don’t fish all the way out on the end of the pier, cast just beyond the breakers! Use a pyramid sinker, just like you would in the surf.
Ocean City has several more public fishing areas. The areas mentioned in this column are places that I consider to have the easiest access for the elderly or handicapped. Be sure to stop into any tackle store in Ocean City, and they will direct you.
Sue Foster is an outdoor writer and co-owner of Oyster Bay Tackle in Ocean City, MD and Fenwick Tackle in Fenwick, DE.