We’re about a month into the first season in which Maryland requires non-offset circle hooks when chumming or live-lining in the Chesapeake and its river. No doubt there’s been some growing pains as we get used to using them.
So now is good as time as any to offer a few tips, but first a quick recap: The state’s DNR, working with the coastal fishery board and the recreational sportfishing community, lowered from 20 inches to 19 inches the minimum size allowed to keep a striper. In exchange, sport anglers who live-line or chum must now use non-offset circle hooks.
Rods—Medium-heavy rods (6’6” to 7’) loaded with 14-to 20-pound test mono (braid can tangel too easily in this kind of fishing).
Circle Hooks—Non-offset from 4/0 to 8/0 snelled onto 30”, 30-pound test leaders.
Sinkers & Quik-Slides: Egg sinkers from 1/2 to 2 ounces or Quik-Slides, which are a great to help keep your baits in the catch zone & quickly change weights depending on conditions. If tide is slow, keep one rod weightless.
Chunk/Chum Slick—Neatly filleted the fresh bunker longways in strips of two inches or so. Use the hearts. Use a bottom bag and disperse chunks lightly.
Setting The Hook—DON’T! I know, I know, it goes against our instinct. If you’re having a bit of trouble hooking up, try this: When the rod’s tip-top “bounces,” give it a three-count, pick up rod firmly but gently, dip the rod tip slightly and then reel steadily. Don’t “set” the hook as you would with regular hooks. Once tight, play the striper normally. If no fish on, check that the bait is still on.
Fish Hard...Rig Right
Capt. Chris Dollar CD Outdoors & Tacklecove.com