by David Cecelski
Last week we went to the Kure Beach Fishing Pier for ice cream after exploring the salt marsh creeks between Fort Fisher and Bald Head Island. My brother and his family live down that way and I can’t imagine visiting them without at least one trip to that old pier. It’s the oldest fishing pier on the Atlantic coast and a beautiful place to be on a late summer or fall night.
Two of my nephews love to fish out there. But sometimes we go just to enjoy the evening. We get an ice cream cone at the bait and tackle shop and visit with the pier’s owner, a much beloved fellow named Mike Robertson. His grandfather, L. C. Kure, first built the pier in 1923.
Then we walk down to the end of the pier, like we did today. We visit with the old pier rats that are my brother’s friends and, generally speaking, are up to no good. We find out what they’re catching and what they’re using for bait. We always hear a few good stories, too.
Some of the stories, it turns out, are even true. Today everybody was talking about the waterspout that hit Carolina Beach a couple weeks ago. Carolina Beach is just north of Kure Beach and you can find some great pictures of the waterspout if you search Youtube.
A fishing pier is a world unto itself, a little community in a way, and I like being part of it for a little while on our visits to my brother’s. At Kure Beach, some of the locals are on the pier just about every day. And some of the tourists have been coming to Kure Beach and spending a week on the pier every summer or fall for half a century or longer. In the bait and tackle shop, you can see photographs of them, proudly holding their biggest catches, going back generations.
Late at night, especially in the fall when the fish are running and the pier is crowded, I love to listen to the peaceful murmur of the fishermen’s voices all up and down the pier. Whole families are sometimes camped on the pier those nights. Often we have to step around little children dozing in sleeping bags.
On our way back to my brother’s house those evenings, we can smell fish frying up and down the shore and know the fish are running. Though, when it comes to the fishing, at the Kure Beach Fishing Pier there’s always a lot of “You should have been here last week”—the pier’s motto.
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For more about the Kure Beach Fishing Pier, be sure to check out its web site—www.kurebeachfishingpier.com.