Fishing and Ocean City have been intricately connected since before there was an inlet. Heck, our former mayor was “Fish” Powell.
In the beginning of the fishing industry, men would drag boats through the surf and row through the breakers to harvest the abundant supply of fish in the Atlantic. The end of the day brought the boats back to the shore and teams of horses would assist in dragging boats full of fish back up the beach. The catch would then go to the icehouse, located between Worcester and Wicomico Streets. Then the fish would leave by train over Sinepuxent Bay to markets in Baltimore and Philadelphia. That all changed in 1933.
The hurricane of 1933 ripped an inlet between Assateague Island and Ocean City. Now it was possible for motorized or sailing vessels to access the sea and take safe harbor. The commercial fleet was able to evolve with larger vessels and docks to unload. A new fishery flourished, that would be the offshore fishing industry. In 1939, after 171 white marlins were boated in a single day at the “Jack Spot,” Ocean City became known as the “White Marlin Capital of the World.”
Marlin fishing may get the most publicity but there are many other species pursued from the docks of Ocean City. Near shore wreck fishing is a staple of the industry in Ocean City. Anglers on “head boats” venture out daily to catch tautog, seabass, flounder and trigger fish. These boats are so named because they charge “per head.” You can see the Ocean Princess, the “Morningstar” or the “Judith M” motoring out of the inlet every morning. If the ocean isn’t your cup of tea, many opportunities exist for fishing from land or small boats in our coastal bays.
The bays and inlet offer rockfish, flounder, bluefish and tautog. Croaker fishing gets hot in late July and August, while red drum and rockfish round out the year. You can fish from the inlet jetty, the Ocean City Bridge or any of the privately owned fishing piers. Public fishing is allowed on the bulkhead from 2nd–4th Streets. Anywhere you fish you’ll need a Maryland fishing license.
Fishing in Ocean City offers enjoyment to young and old, boy or girl—it is truly a family activity. So, go down to the local marina and “take a kid fishing.”
Fishing License Fees
A valid fishing license is required for the Atlantic Ocean and Coastal Bays. Fishing licenses, stamps and registrations are valid for 365 days from the date of purchase, unless otherwise specified.
Resident Trout Stamp: $5
Non-Resident Trout Stamp: $10
Resident Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Sport Fishing License: $15
Non-Resident Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Sport Fishing License: $22.50
Resident Seven-Day Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Sport Fishing License: $6
Non-Resident Seven-Day Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Sport Fishing License: $12
Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Sport Boat License: $50
A Virginia fishing license is accepted in Maryland and vice versa under MD/VA Reciprocity. Those fishing in Maryland with a Virginia license will need to register in Maryland, which is free to do. This is so the state can determine how many fish are being caught in each respective state.
If you would like to fish in Ocean City without a license, your choices will be the Oceanic Pier (Ocean Pier) since there is a Blanket Pier License. Ocean City has two free fishing zones—the bulkhead from 2nd–4th Street (Chicago Avenue) and Northside Park at 125th Street. You do not need a license to fish at these two locations, but you do need a “free registry.” This is free and can be done over the phone, from 7 a.m.–7 p.m., by calling 1-855-855-3906. If you go fishing on a party or charter boat, you do not need a license or free registry. You can also go crabbing and clamming in Ocean City without a license.
Species Minimum Size Limit Season
American eel, 9 inches, Jan. 1–Aug. 31
Black Drum, 16 inches, Open Year Round
Black Sea Bass, Regulations pending, May 15–Dec. 31
Bluefish, 8 inches, Open Year Round
Croaker (hardhead), 9 inches, Open Year Round
Grouper species, None, Open Year Round
Lobster, 33/8–51/4 inches, Closed Feb. 1–March 31
Mahi-mahi, None, Open Year Round
Red Drum, 18–27 inches, Open Year Round
Spanish Mackerel, 14 inches, Open Year Round
Spotted Seatrout, 14 inches, Open Year Round
Summer Flounder, 16.5 inches, Open Year Round
Tautog, 16 inches, Closed May 16–June 30
Wahoo, None, Open Year Round
Weakfish 13 inches Open Year Round
Cobia and Striped Bass have special guidelines that vary
throughout season. For more information, visit eRegulations.com