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Rigging A Boston Mackerel

For Trolling

galvin Leadin

    Here in the Northeast United States, Atlantic mackerel or as they are known locally “Boston” mackerel are prime forage for an abundance of species, especially bluefin tuna.
    There are a variety of ways in which fishermen here employ the bait — some fish them live off balloons or kites; some cast them live into top-feeding bluefins; chunking with dead mackerel is a time tested method, while still others prefer to troll them.
    Trolling mackerel is a traditional means of chasing bluefin. During the heyday of the giant bluefin fishery all the high-lining crews trolled rigged mackerel spreader bars, daisy chains, and single baits.
    While few pull the bars and chains anymore, select top producing boats still pull single baits rigged with chin weights or without. When rigged, these baits are pulled from the outriggers, planers, or right from the rod tips in the prop wash.
    When prepared and rigged properly, Boston mackerel are durable baits that draw in big fish. As with all natural bait rigging, the process begins with quality bait. During the spring when the mackerel begin to run, we will catch our own bait with sabiki rigs and prep them for the upcoming season.
    Once we have procured a cooler full of large “trollers” we begin the next step of preparing these baits for frozen storage and subsequent rigging during the season.
    Prior to vacuum sealing our baits for the season, we will “hydro-gut” the baits. “Hydro-gutting” is a means of removing the innards of the mackerel, via water from a hose, to avoid quick decay when the baits are thawed out. This process is accomplished by making a small incision in the gill membrane underneath gills on each side of the head. Next, with a small knife, delicately enlarge the anus. The hose is inserted into the anus of the bait using an attachment (found at any hardware store) on the nozzle that tapers down to fit inside the bait without damage. Squeeze the nozzle and watch the innards exit the bait from the slices made in the gill membranes.
    Once the baits have been “hydro-gutted,” the backbone now must be removed. This can be done after the baits are thawed, however by doing it at the time of vacuum sealing it cuts down on the prep needing before rigging come fishing time. The backbone is removed with a deboner.
    The time has come for the mackerel to be rigged. You will need some rigging floss, a couple needles, and a chin weight (if you are rigging one to swim versus skip).
    Our process begins with the insertion of the hook into the bait. Aboard the Mulberry Canyon we used Mustad 7691S 10/0 hooks attached to 220-pound Seaguar Fluorocarbon.


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