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May 28, 2007

Preserving Piers; Wilmington Star, Si.Cantwell

Here is an article appearing in the Wilmington Star News on Sunday about the vanishing piers along the coast of the Carolinas. Good read. If you have the time, get involved. This problem affects all of us.


Preserving Piers
Wilmington Star

As land values skyrocket, the privately owned havens for anglers are frequently being replaced by homes

The Long Beach Pier in Oak Island is gone, torn down last year to make way for large oceanfront homes.

The Carolina Beach Fishing Pier is for sale. The asking price of $3 million is a bargain, considering its present tax value is $3,380,237, up from $698,755 in 1999.

For years, fishing piers served as the central focus of many small beach towns. They provided economic benefits, encouraging tourism during the "shoulder seasons" of spring and fall when the water was too cold for most swimmers. They were places where the same anglers return year after year, generation after generation.

But rising taxes and operating costs, frequent damage from storms and skyrocketing land values threaten the state's fishing piers. In 1980, 36 stretched out from the North Carolina shoreline. Today, just 20 privately owned, commercially operated piers open to the public survive.

The threat was documented in the recently completed Waterfront Access Study Committee's Final Report, commissioned by the General Assembly to study the loss of diversity of uses of land along the coast. The main losers, the report says, are "anglers of modest means" who pay a daily fee, typically less than $10, for a day out over the water.

The study recommends the state's Aquarium Division begin operating three piers for the public's benefit, and it also offers recommendations on tax changes and funding repairs after storms. But some are wary of the state competing with private operators.

Angling to save piers

Al Baird, 47, general manager of a specialty chemical plant, grew up coming to the Outer Banks with his family from Pittsburgh. He started taking his kids there in the 1990s, when he lived in the Chicago area. He moved to Fort Mill, S.C., just south of Charlotte, in 2000.

After reading Robert Goldstein's book Coastal Fishing in the Carolinas, he decided he wanted to take his son, Chris, 17, fishing from every pier in North Carolina.

"I thought it would be pretty cool to go on this fishing trip," he said. "I kept planning it, and finally I realized in 2005 that all the piers are disappearing. So we blocked out a week around basketball camp and we took off."

Last summer, they fished from all the piers still open. While in Kure Beach, they stayed at the Rolling Surf Motel and fished from the Kure Beach Fishing Pier.

He was disappointed to find the motel slated for demolition to make way for four big houses. "I said, 'They can't do that. That town has so much old-fashioned beach charm.'●"

He said he started the N.C. Fishing Pier Society (www.ncfps.com) in April 2006 to support the piers, document their history "and to try to save some of them, if we can."

Johnnie Mercers success

Running a pier is a complicated business, even a successful one such as Johnnie Mercers Fishing Pier at Wrightsville Beach. Matt Johnson owns the pier, which his father, Robert, bought in 1969.

He credits his location at Wrightsville Beach for the pier's popularity. It was rebuilt as a concrete pier after hurricanes in 1996 destroyed it.

Employment at the pier's tackle shop, gift shop and grill swells to around 20 workers in the summer from around 12 in the winter. It barely breaks even during the winter months, but Johnson said closing it would create safety and security problems by leaving a valuable building unattended.

Maintenance is an ongoing effort. Kitchen equipment wears out, shingles tear off, metal rusts, fixtures such as chairs and furniture must be replaced.

But Johnson says it's easier than it was when Johnnie Mercers was a wooden pier. He remembers his father wrestling new pilings into place and lashing them to the pier.

State fees, including a new blanket saltwater fishing license that covers pier customers, can total more than $3,000 a year, Johnson said.

But it's worth it to see the camaraderie and joy the pier brings to customers.

In March, a woman told him she and her husband were celebrating their 10th anniversary. "Do you realize I met my husband on this pier?" she asked him.

Hurt by motel declines

Mike Robertson, who owns the Kure Beach pier, knows the attraction of a pier goes far beyond just angling for spots and blues.

"I love watching the tide change," he said. "I love watching the sun move around and the moon move around."

But he worries about the impact of losing nearby motels.

Kure Beach had already lost four motels before plans were announced to tear down the Rolling Surf. Those plans are on hold pending the resolution of regulatory issues, but the motel is closed now.

The modestly priced rooms offered by the motels were popular with fishermen.

"For a pier to be profitable, it has to have some customers," Robertson said. "It's getting harder, not unlike anything going on up and down the coast."

Kure Beach Mayor Tim Fuller said the town would like right of first refusal if Robertson ever sells the pier. He said he'd talked with the folks at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher about operating that pier if Robertson ever sold.

But Robertson said he has no plans to sell. He likes running the pier, and so do his children. He said his pier doesn't have a large land footprint that would attract residential developers.

Help from aquariums?

The Waterfront Access Study's report, finalized last month, recommends that the N.C. Aquariums develop and operate three public fishing piers. They would have educational displays as well as fishing amenities.

Donna Moffitt, director of the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher, said she talked to Robertson more than a year ago about the Kure Beach pier, and she's aware that the Carolina Beach pier is for sale.

But she said the Aquarium Division, part of the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources, needs direction from the General Assembly before it moves forward on any plan to develop or operate piers. Moffitt said the state could build piers, buy existing ones or agree to operate a pier for an owner.

The N.C. Aquarium Society, a nonprofit that supports the three state-owned aquariums, has bought Jennette's Pier in Nags Head with the idea of handing it over to the Aquarium Division. It will cost $13 million to reopen it as a 1,000-foot-long concrete pier, Moffitt said.

Emerald Isle, on Bogue Banks between Jacksonville and Morehead City, hopes to work with the Pine Knoll Shores aquarium to take over the Bogue Inlet Pier. Town Manager Frank Rush said that project would anchor a mixed-use project called Village East, combining commercial space with residential units.

The largest single landowner in the 50-acre zone is the Stanley family, which wants to sell the pier site and 15 acres around it. One developer was interested in working with the town and the Aquarium Division, but that deal fell through. Rush said the town is hoping another buyer will come forward willing to preserve the pier as part of the larger Village East project.

Moffitt said that if the Fort Fisher aquarium does operate a pier, it will likely be the last of the three aquariums to do so since plans are more advanced for the other two prospects.

Baird, founder of the Fishing Pier Society, is skeptical about the state getting into the pier business. He worries that a state-run pier might provide unwelcome competition to privately owned piers struggling to survive. Moffitt said the Aquarium Division would charge higher fees than privately owned piers to avoid taking away their business.

Tax breaks and loans

The Waterfront Access panel also recommended that fishing piers and other working waterfront properties be awarded "present use value" tax status, similar to how farmland is taxed. Since 1973, the report said, the state allows farmland to be appraised at its current use value - as a farm - instead of fair market value, shielding the owner from higher tax bills in a rising real estate market.

The committee also urged the state to look for ways to help pier owners pay for storm repairs, including perhaps establishing a low-interest loan program. Robertson, whose family has repeatedly rebuilt the Kure Beach pier after storms, said he'd welcome such a fund.

After Hurricane Fran damaged his pier in 1996, a contractor estimated rebuilding costs at $1.2 million, although Robertson did it for less by hiring labor and doing it himself.

Baird wants beach towns to support their piers. "Coastal communities need to be actively involved in getting to pier owners and businesses and say, 'What do we need to do to help?'●" he said. "●'What can we do to assist you besides just putting up another house and bringing in tax money?'●"

New to the area? Seeing change all around you? Contact me at 343-2364 or Si.Cantwell@StarNewsOnline.com.

http://www.wilmingtonstar.com/apps/p...NEWS/705280336


Till next time....
Tight lines!
Johnny "FishinTopsail"


Everyone has to be somewhere ..... I'll be fishing!
Freedom isn't free! Someone has paid, for you and for me.

44244
As you may know, my mother-in-law Bernice, known locally as Ms. Lee, has been in the hospital for two weeks now, and I haven't been fishing is SOOOOO LONG! Just talked to Vinita at Surf City Pier and GOOD NEWS! The fish are biting! Well not all the fish, but blues, spanish and pompano (big pompano) are all biting well. The first king of the year was caught yesterday (17 lbs), and a cobia was caught today. I think it was about 30 lbs, but I can't really remember what she said. Bottom fishing isn't so good, but hopefully that will get better soon. I have talked to a couple of kayakers, they said they had no luck throwing beetle spins and gulp grubs. I talked to a surf fisherman today, and he said that he still can't find any sand fleas. They should be here by now, or so I thought, so maybe they will show up soon. I am hearing of the occasional sea mullet, puppy drum, and black drum being pulled up from the surf, so it's not a total waste to get out there. Of course my philosophy is fishing is better than work anytime, even if there is nothing biting.

Till next time....
Tight lines!
Johnny "FishinTopsail"


Everyone has to be somewhere ..... I'll be fishing!
Freedom isn't free! Someone has paid, for you and for me.

May 27, 2007

Local Legends awarded NC Fishing Pier Society Awards


Congratulations to fishing legend Angelo DePaola from Topsail Island, and to Topsail Beach's Jolly Rodger fishing pier, for receiving North Carolina Fishing Pier Society awards. Read details below.


Fort Mill, SC—May 27, 2007—A dedication to both fishing and the community has led the North Carolina Fishing Pier Society (NCFPS) to the bestow two awards for achievement and community service to a legendary fisherman and a distinguished fishing pier, NCFPS founder and fishing advocate Al Baird said today.



The award ceremony is slated for June 16 at 1 p.m. at the Jolly Roger Pier, Topsail Beach.



At the ceremony, the NCFPS will recognize Angelo DePaola for lifetime achievement in pier fishing. This is the first Lifetime Achievement Award given by the organization.



"To fishing enthusiasts, Angelo DePaola is a living legend," Baird said today from NCFPS headquarters in Fort Mill, South Carolina. "DePaola's king mackerel total is equivalent to baseball's Cy Young record for total wins (511 wins). It will likely never come close to being broken by any fisherman at any pier in the near or distant future."



Since 1958 DePaola has dedicated himself to hauling the "big ones" and his 490 king mackerel's are counted in that record. DePaola once caught five of the trophies in one day. He also managed to bring in other species from the pier including red drum, amberjacks, tarpon, bluefish and cobia. DePaola also has a 400 pound lemon shark to his credit and in 1978 he made the rarest of catch—a 7-foot sailfish.



A second honor, this one the 2007 Community Service Award, is slated to be presented to the Jolly Roger Pier for its years of serving as a community fishing bulwark stretching out into the turbulent waters of the Atlantic Ocean.



"The Jolly Roger Pier is a landmark in the community and rightly deserves the 2007 Community Service Award," Baird said. "This fisherman's bastion has stood proud and strong—serving North Carolina and the eastern seaboard fishing community for over fifty years."



The Jolly Roger is renowned for rebuilding quickly after hurricanes and is an extremely popular with local fisherman and others from all over the eastern United States. Lewis Orr built the pier in 1954 and it is still operated by the Orr family today.



The North Carolina Fishing Pier Society was founded in 2006 to promote the history and traditions of pier fishing in North Carolina. The organization seeks to preserve waterfront access and has submitted testimony to the North Carolina Waterfront Access Study Committee earlier this year.


Till next time....
Tight lines!
Johnny "FishinTopsail"


Everyone has to be somewhere ..... I'll be fishing!
Freedom isn't free! Someone has paid, for you and for me.

May 25, 2007

Someone caught another king from Jolly Rodger yesterday. (rumor) I think that is three this year. Still catching chopper blues and some spanish. Surf City anglers caught blues and a few spanish this week with a few sea mullets at night. The wind has been blowing, and fishing has been slow.

Till next time....
Tight lines!
Johnny "FishinTopsail"


Everyone has to be somewhere ..... I'll be fishing!
Freedom isn't free! Someone has paid, for you and for me.


45905

May 23, 2007

Rod-Man Report May 23, 2007

Hello from Surf City.

Rod-Man Report May 23, 2007

Hi Folks, and a happy and safe Memorial Day. Be sure to give thanks and prayers for our troops.

I just got back from a fun filled 3 days at Harkers Island fishing for cobia. We did not catch cobia but we did catch some big blues and huge rays. On the home front, fishing in the Wilmington area has finally turned back on after the “blow”. Let’s keep it that way.

Now here’s my report:

Inshore: Red drum are biting well. Catch them on artificials including GULP or on bait. A 1/4 oz. jig head and a GULP curlytail will do the job. Some flounder are showing up and are being caught on live bait.

Near shore: Cobia have shown up near shore at the reefs. Nice spanish are back and pods of menhaden are cruising the beach. It’s all good.

Offshore: Kings are biting around 10 miles. More cobia are at the offshore reefs and mahi are in the 20-25 mile areas.

Gulfstream: When boats have gone out there has been a good morning and evening tuna bite. Big wahoo and lots of big mahi are biting as well.

Be safe this holiday weekend and have a good time on the water….now…

Let’s Go Fishing!!!
Capt. Rick Bennett
Rod-Man Charters
910-799-6120




Till next time....
Tight lines!
Johnny "FishinTopsail"


Everyone has to be somewhere ..... I'll be fishing!
Freedom isn't free! Someone has paid, for you and for me.

Spanish on Surf City Pier

Hello from Surf City.
There was a good run of spanish at Surf City Pier Tuesday morning. Most were keeper size, some up to 20 inches long were caught. They were mostly caught on gotcha plugs and diamond jigs. Bottom anglers caught several large pompano on cut shrimp. Hopefully this trend will continue. I still haven't been fishing. Family member is still in the hospital, so my time has been spent there. Hopefully she will get home soon and I can hit the beach!

Till next time....
Tight lines!
Johnny "FishinTopsail"


Everyone has to be somewhere ..... I'll be fishing!
Freedom isn't free! Someone has paid, for you and for me.

May 21, 2007

Fishing Slows a Bit

Hello from Surf City.
Sorry I haven't posted. I have family in the hospital and just haven't got out to get any reports. I know it has been slow at Surf City Pier, but there are still some nice chopper blues taking the king anglers bait and gotcha plugs. Not much on the bottom fishing. Small flounder, small mullets at night with a few black drum mixed in. No Surf report, check Surf City Pier and East Coast Websites for their reports. Herrings Outdoor Sports are getting some really nice fresh local shrimp. Check 'em out. Fishing should pick up anytime now. If you can't catch any fish, check out Herring's kayak rentals and explore the waters inside the island. You may even see Wally, our resident three foot gater.


Till next time....
Tight lines!
Johnny "FishinTopsail"


Everyone has to be somewhere ..... I'll be fishing!
Freedom isn't free! Someone has paid, for you and for me.

May 16, 2007

May Fishing at Topsail Island

Hello from Surf City.
Still catching blues in the morning at Surf City Pier. Tonight, there were black sea bass caught, but they were too small to keep. Yea, I said black sea bass. Don't see those near the pier too often. At Seaview Pier, anglers pulled in five kings this week. Don't know the size, but this early, and from the pier, a king is a king! I am hearing some buzz about speckled trout near the turning bridge in Surf City at night. Can't confirm this. Rain predicted tomorrow, but shouldn't last too long. Chris at East Coast Sports has published his May fishing report. Click on this link to view it and their spring specials. Surf City Crab has been getting some fantastic bait shrimp, as well as plenty of eating seafood. Check them out on the water behind The Crabpot on Roland Ave, just after you cross the turning bridge on the left. Herrings Outdoor Sports has dozens of new kayaks, and a store full of spring and summer fashions, as well as their bait and tackle which is always great. Check out everything "Topsail" at www.topsail-island.info. Get on down and do some fishing!


Till next time....
Tight lines!
Johnny "FishinTopsail"


Everyone has to be somewhere ..... I'll be fishing!


Freedom isn't free! Someone has paid, for you and for me.

43124

May 14, 2007

More Cobia ..... Big Chopper Blues!

Hello from Surf City.
Another cobia was caught at Surf City Pier Sunday. Blues on gotcha plugs Sunday and Monday. Big blues, choppers up to 10 lbs were caught this morning. Bottom fishing still kinda slow. Inside still producing puppies and specks.

Till next time....
Tight lines!
Johnny "FishinTopsail"


Everyone has to be somewhere ..... I'll be fishing!
Freedom isn't free! Someone has paid, for you and for me.


42777

May 13, 2007

King On!

Hello from Surf City.
Someones reel screamed today at Surf City Pier. They had a king on and lost it at the pier. Too bad. Still waiting for the first one to be landed. Looks like it's gonna be a good year. Blues and spanish are being caught in the morning by pluggers. No word on bottom fishing.

Till next time....
Tight lines!
Johnny "FishinTopsail"


Everyone has to be somewhere ..... I'll be fishing!
Freedom isn't free! Someone has paid, for you and for me.

Kings, Chopper Blues, Blackfin Tuna


Fishing continues to get better along the coast. My charter on Saturday produced good catches of Chopper Bluefish-up to 8lbs, a nice Blackfin Tuna and a limit of King Mackerel. Water temps ranged from 71 in the morning to 76 in the afternoon.


Inshore, the flounder bite is improving and the redfish bite is good as well. The speckled trout have still been biting, but expect that to die with the the water getting hotter.


Call now and book you trip today!!
Capt. Brent Stanley
Current Adventure Charters
910.200.9959

May 12, 2007

Cobia Alert!

Hello from Surf City. I got an instant message from a friend J. Griffin who said a 50lb cobia was caught today on Surf City Pier. He got the tip from his fishing bud W. Tyndall. I checked out his tip, and Kenny, better know as "Bigun", at Surf City Pier and Kenny tells me that they caught not one, but two cobia today. James Helms caught a 45 pounder, and Nancy, (sorry, I don't know her last name) caught the big one, a 50 lb giant while king fishing at the end. Nothing much else going on today that I have found out about. I wasn't able to fish, or even make my rounds to the piers, so if I get anything else I will post it. Thanks to J. Griffin for the information about the cobia. Good detective work.


Till next time....
Tight lines!
Johnny "FishinTopsail"


Everyone has to be somewhere ..... I'll be fishing!
Freedom isn't free! Someone has paid, for you and for me.



24258

May 10, 2007

Rod-Man Report May 10, 2007

Hello from Surf City.

Rod-Man Report May 10, 2007

Hi Folks,
What can I say? The weather has been as lousy as it can get short of the “H” word. I have not fished since last Friday when we caught some very nice spanish. This storm has certainly made a mess out of a great start to spring fishing. Things will start calming down today and maybe by the weekend we will begin to see some semblance of normalcy.
Now here’s my report…from prior to last Saturday.

Inshore: We are getting some good red drum action both on artificials and on bait. Best action is on a falling tide and around heavy structure or oyster banks. Some live bait (small menhaden) have shown up and that means the flounder bite is about to begin in earnest.

Near Shore: The large spanish mackerel have been chomping pretty well. They can be caught on Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow Deep Divers, clarkspoon rigs with small #1 planers, and bird rigs. The bonito were thinning out late last week as the spanish came in, but they may make another brief showing after the storm. Plenty of bluefish are around.

Offshore: Spring kings have been caught at the 10 mile areas, a great sign. Larger fish are still hanging a bit further out in the 23 to 45 mile areas.

Gulfstream: When boats can get out, wahoo, tuna and mahi are biting well.

We have had to do some rearranging of charter schedules due to the storm. This has been necessary to try to insure the best possible opportunity for a good day of fishing. We appreciate your cooperation. Hopefully things will be back to normal soon. It’s been a while since the fish have had a good meal, so maybe they will be hungry and willing.

Be sure to check out our new bonito fishing video!

Let’s Go Fishing!!!
Capt. Rick Bennett
Rod-Man Charters
910-799-6120



Till next time....
Tight lines!
Johnny "FishinTopsail"

Everyone has to be somewhere ..... I'll be fishing!
Freedom isn't free! Someone has paid, for you and for me.

42288

Salt Water LIcense

Hello from Surf City. Here are a few facts about the new NC Salt Water Fishing License that was emailed to me by Al from the NC Pier Fishing Society. Thanks Al, interesting information.

A few other facts about the new saltwater fishing license.

The state has sold 91,560 licenses so far. Residents of New Hanover
County have bought the most licenses - 5467, Dare county has
purchased 3167. People from out of state have purchases 7154 annual
licenses and 7117 short term licenses.

Virginia has bought the most followed by Pennsylvania and Maryland.




Till next time....
Tight lines!
Johnny "FishinTopsail"

Everyone has to be somewhere ..... I'll be fishing!
Freedom isn't free! Someone has paid, for you and for me.

May 9, 2007

Bite Slow

Hello from Surf City.
Nothing much has been biting since Friday, which was a good fishing day with sea mullets, spanish, and lots of blues from the piers. Still no flounder being reported from the piers or surf. Inside, it's more of the same. Everything came to a screeching halt Friday night as the front moved in. Winds have been high, and beach erosion is extensive, especially on each end of Topsail Island. Hope I will have good news soon.

Till next time....
Tight lines!
Johnny "FishinTopsail"

Everyone has to be somewhere ..... I'll be fishing!
Freedom isn't free! Someone has paid, for you and for me.

May 7, 2007

Current Adventure Fishing Report-5/7/07


Fishing along the coast from Topsail Beach down to Southport is really turning on. The water has continued to warm and the fishing is just getting hot.
Inshore, Redfish, Bluefish, Flounder and Speckled Trout fishing continues to get better and better. Topwater action has really picked up this week as the fish are getting more aggressive with more and more baitfish showing up in the local waters. Capt. Lewis reported a great day of Speckled Trout fishing this past week with 17 Trout being caught,
six of which were citation sized fish.
Spanish Mackerel up to 6lbs have been reported as well as King Mackerel up to 30lbs. One of piers in the Southport area reported the first Cobia of the year with a 60lber being put on the deck!!! Atlantic Bonito are still being caught around the nearshore wrecks along with a ton of Bluefish and some nice Spanish Mackerel.
Offshore, the King Mackerel bite has been great and the Gulf Stream is producing catches of Tuna, Dolphin and Wahoo.
It's time to go catch some fish so call and book your trip today.
Capt. Brent Stanley
Current Adventure Charters
910.200.9959
www.currentadventurecharters.com

May 4, 2007

Hello from Surf City.
Fishing at Topsail Island is picking up. The first king of the year was caught at Sea View Pier yesterday. It was small, but everyone is excited to see the first one. Surf City Pier caught spanish yesterday, as did Jolly Rodger and Sea View Pier. It is early for kings and spanish, and hopefully the early bite will continue. There are still a lot of snapper blues in the water, and are biting gotcha plugs as well as bottom rigs. The mullet bite has slowed a bit, but some are still being caught. There was a few spots in coolers yesterday also. The pluggers are out and beating the water with gotcha plugs looking for that spanish or blue. All the tackle shops, East Coast Sports, Herrings Outdoor Sports, Thomas Bait and Tackle, and Dougs Tackle on Hwy 50 in Holly Ridge, have new tackle and are ready for the seasons spanish blitz. Pack up those plugging rods and head down to the coast for some good fishing.

Till next time....
Tight lines!
Johnny "FishinTopsail"

Everyone has to be somewhere ..... I'll be fishing!
Freedom isn't free! Someone has paid, for you and for me.

May 3, 2007

Mullet from Piers, Speckled Trout Inside

Mullets and blues are still biting from the area piers. Blues are hitting gotcha plugs and grubs early morning and late afternoon. Sea mullets are biting fresh cut shrimp after dark. There have been some nice black drum from all piers, but the bite is slow. The inside waters have been producing some nice specks on grubs, mostly Berkley Gulp baits. Fishing from the surf is still slow with a few sea mullets and black drum showing up here and there. I still haven't found any sand fleas. Not sure when they should show up. Maybe someone has an idea and can let us know.

Till next time....
Tight lines!
Johnny

Everybody has to be somewhere ..... I'll be fishing!

May 2, 2007

Errors on Blog

Hi everyone, I have had a glitch in the blog, and all of my favorite links have disappeared. I am working to restore all the links. If you had a link (fishing related) or would like to add a link (fishing related) please contact me via email. The email link is at the top of this page, "Send Johnny an Email"
Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Till next time....
Tight lines!
Johnny

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