There’s a legion of sub zero heroes that scoff at the arctic chill in the Northeast.
They load the coolers, the gear, and drive straight to the party boats, hopping on the icy decks for 12 hour trips out to hammer the 40 to 60 mile wrecks. Why? There’s a cavalcade of species available to target during February and March including cod, pollock, porgy, ling, purple hake and mackerel. You’ll be fishing plenty of sticky structure, so here’s how to plan accordingly.
Bottom bouncing around jagged structure will most ultimately warrant a bunch of lost tackle and rigs, and when setting out, expect to lose a lot. For the most part, meat rigs for cod and Pollock and ling consist of a Hi-Lo approach. A 4 foot section of 40 pound leader material is used to begin, with a 100 pound class Spro barrel swivel, a dropper loop tied 18 inches down, then a space of 18 inches, to where the next dropper is tied. A final overhand loop for the bank sinker completes the rig. On the droppers, size 5/0 to 6/0 #92641 Baitholder hooks will fit the bill, as they tend to hold clams better, but you may also opt for 7/0 Gamakatsu Octopus style hooks. A ling rig consists of resting baits on the bottom, thus about four inches above the looped sinker, pinch off the line and tie a larks head knot with a snelled 2/0 Gamakatsu Octopus hook. Ling bite best when the bait lies directly on the seafloor. Hooks may be adorned with a variety of white or chartreuse bucktails, curly grub tails, Berkeley Gulp! baits, or mylar flash to attract attention from down below. Porgy rigs consist of size 1/0 snelled Beak hooks on a same type of hi-lo rig as cod.
Bank sinkers may run from 5 to 16 ounces, as it is wise to bring a wide assortment of sizes and a lot of them to compensate for the currents. Fifty pound fluorocarbon leader is recommended for jigging leader material. High speed retrieve reels with a 6 to 1 ratio spooled with 65-pound braid running line are recommended matched with a medium/fast action 7 to 7-1/2 foot rod. Personally I employ the use of a Lamiglas TFX7040CT and a Shimano Torium 20 reel and find that it’s ample for any of the aforementioned species. Wreck beasties await.