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December 15, 2010

Mid-Atlantic Bluefin Bonanza

Tuna fishing heats up off Virginia and North Carolina

Trolling Spread
One flat line hosted a SeaWitch and horse ballyhoo. The other held a downrigger with a No. 3 Drone. Each of the short riggers got a SeaWitch. The long riggers and the shotgun pulled Ilander skirts on horse ballyhoo that Standing dropped far behind the boat.

"The long riggers are 100 to 150 yards out," he said, "and the shotgun can be from 175 to 200 yards back." In fact, he'd started running 100-pound braided line on his shotgun reels to reduce line stretch when one of these big fish strikes.

Trolling Gear
The ubiquitous skirted ballyhoo rig will catch everything from gaffer dolphin to blue marlin, and that includes bluefins. Start with a 50-pound combo spooled with 500 yards of 100-pound-test braided line. Attach the braid to a 100- to 200-yard top shot of 130-pound monofilament by using a hollow-core wind-on leader on the mono and a triple overhand loop knot from the braid. Crimp the top shot to a 280-pound Spro swivel. On the other end of the swivel, attach 15 feet of 200-pound fluorocarbon leader. Most crews will use a skirt with a large ballyhoo, but sharpies always add a naked ballyhoo to the spread. Slide the skirt onto the line, and crimp on a 10/0 hook. In between the line and the crimp, slide a 1-inch piece of No. 15 wire that can be bent up to make a pin. Then lash the bill of the ballyhoo to the line with a small rubber band or a 12-inch piece of Monel wire.