At milepost 16.5 in Nag’s Head, N.C., a brand new fishing pier offers ocean access to anglers, and it is loaded with green power. Besides technology, Jennette’s Pier, completely rebuilt in 2011, is favored by geography since the Outer Banks jut into the Atlantic Ocean, giving anglers a little extra distance on each cast.
At 1000 feet, this is the longest pier open to the public in North Carolina. Walking down the planks past solar panels and windmill turbines, visitors can stop at education stations to learn about the green energy in use there every day.
The Outer Banks of North Carolina have a history of harnessing wind power. In the 1800s, windmills churned from Roanoke to Ocracoke grinding grain, though severe storms were always a threat to them. Today, wind turbines at Jennette’s Pier are 90 feet tall and automatically rotate away from facing destructive winds. A couple of constants at any fishing pier on the beach are sunshine and wind, great for natural energy. But they make sunscreen and a hat essential pier-visiting gear.
Fishing rods, a tackle box with fish hooks, pliers and a towel for fishy hands are also recommended. Most piers (including this one) sell the bottom rigs and the lead weights that work best in their area. Adult anglers pay a $12 daily fee to fish off of the pier, which furnishes rod holders, running water, fish landing nets and pertinent information about what constitutes a species of fish legal to keep. (See pier website for rate/pass information.)
Fishing striped bass in spring, continuing with red drum, flounder and even king mackerel in summer and fall, the angling tradition here since the original pier was built in 1939, flourishes. The location, originally called Whalebone Junction, furnishes whale sightings from the pier each winter. When Hurricane Isabel knocked out and shut down Jennette’s Pier in 2003, the North Carolina Aquarium Society moved to acquire the property and to build the new pier.
During the summer a sea breeze cools those dedicating a day to dropping baits down to passing fish. Watching other anglers is part of the fun and when someone catches a fish everyone joins in the feeling of success – and the anticipation of maybe being the next one to get that big bite and a fishing tale for family and friends.
Most piers offer daily fishing reports so anglers can know what to expect. Pier fishing is a bit more than spending a day at the beach; it’s taking part in beach culture. Passersby often ask what’s biting, and anglers dutifully reply, knowing time spent pier-fishing is always productive at least of fun.