What section of the river you plan on hitting ?
The best bait option (IMO) is live Herring, which can be netted or jigged up (there is a whole thread about catching Herring with lots of good info) can not buy live herring anywhere. Some prefer chunk, while more down river guys have luck with blood and sand worms.
Most guys i know go with a slider rig, using either egg sinker or plastic weight slide on the line. Than a barrel swivel with 2'-3' leader and a hook. I prefer circle hooks, some guys like j-hooks.
Check out some past threads on the board , tons of information should answer all your questions.