Summer Time Rigging
I’m torn every day in the summer on what rigs to load onto the boat in the morning, because there are so many species to chase this time of year. There are only so many rod holders you know.
I’ll start with light spinners loaded with 12 lb. braid for yellowtails and little mahi. I rig the little spinners with a short double, a stretch of 20 lb. fluorocarbon, and 2/0 or smaller hooks or maybe a light buck tail jig.
I particularly like the little 40 class spinners to toss a jig at the triple tails under flotsam offshore. Next I’ll put a couple middle range spinner with 30 lb. braid on with a 30 lb. leader. Ill have hooks or light jigs (maybe a wax wing jig) rigged and ready. These rods are my ‘do all’ rigs from full grown mahi to yellowtails (when the sharks are bad and we need to rip ‘em up quick). I then put on my heavy spinners with 40 lb. braid and the leader vary from 30 to 80 on these rods. Ill normally put 4/0 or 5/0 live bait hooks on them or a big white bucktail for a full sized ballyhoo to be pinned on.
Next come the conventionals. A couple super fast little conventional reels loaded with 50 or 65 lb. braid on 200 lb. class jigging rods to drop vertical jigs or live baits on the myriad of wrecks we will get close to. These rigs see plenty of use with 50+ lb. leader. I believe it is much easier to lower a larger egg sinker ans a long leader with these set ups than with a spinner and I prefer them on hard fighting fish that you have to absolutely stop. These setups are my pop ‘em or stop ‘em rigs for deep water wrecks.
Then I’ll put my trolling setups onboard which are four 30 class reels on custom rods. I put half a spool of 65lb. braid on these reels then load 30 or 50 lb. high-vis mono on top. Next is a double line to which I’ve started building 25 foot 80 lb. wind-on leaders. These wind-ons are there just in case a blue marlin decides to eat one of my mahi lures.
Speaking of lures, I’m thinking of using artificial lures exclusively due to the amount of scattered grass we have been dealing with this year. The key is if they are rigged properly, my artificial’s will skip over 99% of it.
Rigging these baits I’ve been using 80 lb. flouro - very short, maybe 3.5 feet and if I can get just the right crimps, I can pull it into the lures head and pin the hook to ride up, which helps with the whole grass issue. The most important thing, no matter what we put on the boat in the way of rods and reels, is that it is rigged with something to use at a moment’s notice. The last thing you want to have to do, is rig leaders when a big fish is swimming around the boat.
Next comes the whole issue of what to put in the live wells and the bait cooler....
First if we are yellowtailing, I’ll bring a bunch of frozen boxes of chum along with a gallon bag of glass minnows. I’ve been saving mahi blood lines and row which both work great as hook baits for all the usual suspects on the reef. Next, I’ll throw a couple bags of frozen goodies like ballys, mullet, pilchards and a couple big squid for offshore critters to eat. I am as guilty as anyone about this, but thaw out these frozen baits on the way out. I can’t believe how long it takes to thaw out a bag of frozen bait when we have a school of mahi swimming around the boat, it seems like forever!
As for the baitwells: a couple crabs, a bunch of pinfish - and if you can find them as summer waters get warmer, pilchards. Yes shrimp too, but being allergic to shellfish, I ain’t touching ‘em! It’s the one time you will have to bait your own hook on my charter boat.
Matching the hatch offshore is pretty simple on the weed lines. When you see bait under a patch of grass, stop and catch a bunch on a sabiki. It only takes a minute and they live great in the live well. Most of these baits are big enough to use as pitch baits and a mahi will not turn them down.
Best of luck out there. Have fun as the weather gets warmer and the seas get glassy.
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