Bit late but maybe for next time… The bait grounds off the seaway always produce good livies. Just gotta spot them on the sounder and jig through the schools.
I always tend to strike on the 1st run. However if I’m not hooking up the 1st Couple of times. I tend to play it slow. I’ll wind up any slack nice and slowly and make sure it’s still there, then I’ll strike hard as possible so that the hook sets into anything it touches. I also think the placement of the hooks into the live bait plays a huge part in successful hookups.