Many people understandably wondered what the fishing would be like after the recent hurricane hit the coast of both Carolinas. By all accounts, the fishing has been great, even from the piers that have opened since the storm damage.

The Sunset Beach Pier anglers haven’t been getting into the spots like they usually have by this time of year, but the bull redfish bite has been exceptional. The Apache Pier has also been on fire with bull redfish.

Cody James Delton McAllister has fished the Apache Pier a number of times in the past few days, and he’s been catching his share of bull reds. He said some days have been hotter than others, but even on the slower days, dozens of big redfish have been plucked from the ocean by anglers atop the wooden structure, which was closed only briefly after Hurricane Matthew.

McAllister said a basic Carolina Rig with a short leader, a 2-ounce weight, and a chunk of cut bluefish threaded onto a 6/0 Gamakatsu octopus circle hook is the go-to rig right right now.

Anglers often struggle with where to cast when fishing from a pier. McAllister said that for at least the past week, it hasn’t mattered. 

“We’ve been catching them casting away from the pier, straight down beside the pier, and under the pier. We just cast them and let them sit wherever they will sit. If the line gets too much slack in it, we just reel it in a little to keep the line tight enough to detect a bite,” he said.

Don’t be shy about using a bigger-than-average chunk of cut bait, said McAllister.

“The bigger chunks will soak longer, before getting hit, but the bigger baits are producing the biggest fish. The bluefish heads have been good, and the midsections have been good, but we haven’t been catching them on the tail sections,” he said.

Leader length is also important. McAllister said while many anglers prefer to use leaders as long as 18-inches, he sticks to short ones that are a maximum of 6-inches long. 

“With the longer leaders, the weight sits on the bottom while the bait swirls around in the current and surf. A short leader keeps your bait on the bottom. But even more important, the redfish will usually swallow the bait before they swim off, so with long leaders, you don’t even know you have a bite until they have swallowed it so deeply that they are gut-hooked. With a short leader, they are almost always hooked in the mouth where it’s easy to remove it without harming the fish,” he said.

Getting bait hasn’t been a problem either. Jigging with Sabiki rigs are producing four and five 16-inch blues at a time. Aside from bull reds, McAllister said anglers are also catching whiting, black drum, and black sea bass. The spot fishing has been off-and-on, but should improve this week as the temperatures continue to fall.