There is a lot of debate about where to hook large live baits. My preference is perpendicular to the body through the back just forward of the dorsal fin when you’re free-lining these offerings. Stripers eat their prey head-first, and because the back meat is soft, I believe the hook will rip out more quickly, allowing it to penetrate faster. In stronger current, during a fast drift, or when trolling, I’ll hook the bait through the nostrils. Pulling the bait face-first allows it to swim with the current more naturally, whereas a back-hooked bait will often get spun sideways. No matter how you pin your livey, cut off the bottom part of the tail fin. Not only will this slow the bait down, making it an easier target, it will also cause your bait to emit a slightly different vibration than the other baitfish in the school.