Jennette's Pier Blog

Catchin' Up

Catchin’ up

'Bigger than a butterbean'

To get away from the computer Monday morning, I walked out to the end of the pier and hung out with fishermen Ed of Newbern and Chris of Chesapeake.

Under deep blue skies, these two old salts and the rest of the gang were busy working red and white, orange and white and hot pink and yellow “Electric Chicken” Got – Cha plugs through the emerald green ocean. Then, someone hooked, fought and landed a nice-sized bluefish. Others were targeting Spanish mackerel. Two waited for cobia with live baits suspended at the surface.

Ed spoke up about fishing, coaching and boating adventures. He told a funny story about a friend, Dave Chapel of Maysville who liked to keep and eat everything he caught on hook and line.

“As long as it was bigger than a butterbean,” Ed said about Dave. “He believed in catch and eat, not catch and release … he ate everything and he did eat them.

“If it was that big [uses his hands], it could be cleaned and eaten, ‘if it was bigger than a butterbean,’” Ed said Dave said and then he laughed.

“He’s a heck of a fisherman, rabbit hunter, deer hunter, and he’s scared to death of snakes,” Ed said.

A long story about a day with Dave and a snake slithers on; eventually Chris joins us with his own snake story. His was interesting too and ended with a punch line and laughs – the joke was on me.

Now, all of sudden I feel great and I’m not thinking about emails, meetings or budgets. Someone yells out, “A turtle, a turtle!” and a small sea turtle swims at the surface for a seconds before diving down out of sight. Two more were spotted shortly after that. Ed and Chris continue to fling their Got-Cha plugs due south.

Jigging under handed, we’re all looking down the 25 to 28 feet or so from eye level on the pier to sea surface. Then, all of sudden, there’s two big fish tracing the pier. “Sharks, no wait, dolphins, no wait; cobia! Two cobia!” I yell.

Chris grabs his cobia sight casting rod with a bucktail and pitches it right in front of the two cobia who had already made their way around to the end of the pier. One of the cobia turned and looked like it was going to strike but didn’t.

In a flash, they were gone.

Although no one hooked up, one thing is for sure, these two fish were each bigger than a butterbean.

Posted by Daryl Law at Monday, May 22, 2017 | 0 comments

March Fishing Forecast

Fishing improves this month beginning with the likely return of Northern puffers. These small to medium-sized fish puff up with air when they’re caught and reeled in. Prized for their meat by some anglers, they are often called blowfish or blow toads. The Northern puffer is not deadly poisonous like its tropical counterparts and has been consumed by humans for many years.

Puffers typically represent the start of a long march of returning species such as shad, sea mullet, blues, gray and spotted sea trout. Fortunately, this year, the puppy drum stuck around Outer Banks waters throughout the change of seasons, and they’ve provided plenty of action for dedicated anglers.

At Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head, fishermen have enjoyed scattered puppy drum catches despite the passing of seasons since summer.  Typically, anglers use hand-tied, double-bottom rigs baited with shrimp; a combination that also works great for puffers. Store bought rigs work too.

Last year in March, sea mullet started to bite and they stuck around until late fall. These hard-fitting fish also make excellent table fare. A third species fisherman might get a crack at catching this month are spotted seatrout, also known as speckled trout or “specs.”

Whether from a pier, beach or boat, it takes dedication to catch these elusive fish. Sometimes hundreds of casts are required to hook a keeper spotted seatrout. Lead head jigs and soft plastic tails seem to be the most popular lure for this type of top-water fishing. Speckled trout are great eating as well.

Trout fishermen, clad in waders and billed hats with tackle bags handy, line the beaches near fishing piers up and down the Outer Banks in the spring. Early mornings and late afternoons are best.

For general bottom fishing, anglers on the northern beaches should concentrate on sloughs and holes up and down the beach from Coquina to Oregon Inlet in March. Across the bridge on Hatteras Island, a lot of people have been fishing around the jetties near Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and at Cape Point itself.

Most of these areas allow beach driving but a permit is required from the National Park Service. They recently changed several aspects of the annual $120 pass process to make the requirement less pain-staking. A ten-day pass costs $50. For those venturing out on Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills beaches, driving permits are $25 each and are good until April 31.

Offshore sport fishing vessels out of Oregon and Hatteras Inlets have had a fairly decent winter of tuna fishing and its likely this will continue into March. There was even a report floating around about a blue marlin being caught in late February, which is fairly unusual. Most boats are targeting yellowfin and bluefin tuna this time of year.

Judging from warm afternoons and long lines of Canada geese making their way north, spring conditions along, with spring fishing, appear to be just around the bend.

Posted by Daryl Law at Saturday, February 25, 2017

Jennette's Pier celebrates fifth year

By Jeff Hampton
The Virginian Pilot

Jennette’s Pier was quiet on a recent, sunny Monday afternoon except for two guys chatting as their fishing poles leaned against the wood railing. Fish weren’t biting. Water’s still too cold.

But plenty was happening otherwise at this 1,000-foot pier, the longest of its kind on the Outer Banks.
Jennette’s Pier marks its fifth anniversary this year after reopening as a state-owned facility. It serves as an oceanfront outpost for the North Carolina Aquarium in Manteo, manager Mike Remige said.
The pier has fallen and been rebuilt through calamities like hurricanes and budget shortfalls since it was constructed by businessman Warren Jennette 77 years ago.
“This pier is a symbol of Nags Head, and it has been since it was built in 1939,” Mayor Bob Edwards said.
That Monday, three 90-foot-tall wind turbines churned, generating enough electricity to power all the lights on the property. Sensors measured water temperature in the surf below.
A dozen or so surfers took advantage of wave action over sandbars created by rip currents flowing along the concrete pier pilings.
Researchers carry out oceanography experiments in a wooden shed built on the pier deck. Inside are advanced computers and a trap door where divers can lower themselves to the sea on a steel platform.
An antenna atop the research shed receives wind, wave and current data from a buoy 9 miles offshore. A water treatment plant recycles 87 percent of the facility’s water use.
Inside the two-story, 16,000-square-foot pier house are a gift shop and a lobby featuring an aquarium of live local fish swimming around a replica pier piling. Close by is an interactive screen that, with a touch of a finger, identifies different types of phytoplankton and zooplankton. A conference room upstairs attracts groups from all over the state. Two weeks ago, Duke University officials met for a discussion on cancer research.
“I think educationally we have achieved all the goals we had hoped for,” Remige said.
Last year, the pier hosted nearly 190,000 visitors, 206 programs, including youth fishing camps, and 84 student field trips. Fishing fees and gift shop revenue generate about $1.2 million, enough to cover the pier’s operating budget, Remige said.
The structure was in disrepair and about to be torn down for a development when the North Carolina Aquariums Society stepped in and bought the 5-acre site in 2003. A few months later, Hurricane Isabel tore 500 feet off the wooden pier.
“We continued to operate what we jokingly called Jennette’s Porch for two more years,” Remige said.
That condition was not sustainable. The North Carolina General Assembly agreed to the state taking ownership. In 2009, construction bids came in at nearly twice the $14 million budget. The project was completed in 2011 for $25 million.
The pier deck stands 25 feet above the water, above the storm surge from Hurricane Isabel. Storms don’t push this pier around much, Remige said.
“It’s built like a bridge,” he said.
Two years ago, House lawmakers proposed selling the pier, reasoning that the money could go to other projects and that maintenance on the pier would get more expensive as years passed. The Senate and local elected officials objected, and the pier remained public. Last year, Nags Head passed ordinances making it difficult for anything else to operate there but an educational pier, Edwards said.
“It’s kind of like the people of the Outer Banks,” Edwards said. “We might get knocked down, but we come back better than ever. The pier has done that.”

Jeff Hampton, 252-338-0159,

at Monday, March 14, 2016 | 0 comments

N. C. Surfing History

History of N. C. Surfing

hosted by Maritime Museums anD Jennette's pier

The North Carolina Maritime Museums and Jennette's Pier will host an evening program on the history of surfing in North Carolina. The free event takes place at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head on Wednesday, March 9 at 6 p.m.

Join Museum Curator John Hairr and Associate Curator Benjamin Wunderly from the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort as they take a look this sport of kings and share their research on North Carolina’s role in the history of surfing.

There will be several presentations and video footage that helps tell the story of wave riding, board shaping and why North Carolina’s coast is an East Coast surfing destination.

The presentation will focus on the early history of surfing along the Carolina coast, investigating influential figures such as Alexander Hume Ford, a South Carolinian and a major contributor to the spread of the sport from Hawaii. The Surfing NC Timeline project and North Carolina's place in the history of the sport of surfing will be examined.

At first glance, the North Carolina coast, its waters, and its weather may not seem as conducive to surfing as those of Hawaii or California, but in fact, the Outer Banks is one of the best spots for surfing on the East Coast. Since the 50’s and 60’s, multitudes of surfers have made pilgrimages to places like Rodanthe, Avon, and Buxton to take advantage of the notorious swells. Cape Hatteras juts out far into the Atlantic where the Labrador Current meets the Gulf Stream, making it a magnet for anyone who wants to catch a great wave.

In Dare County, surfing may have been brought over directly from Polynesia itself. Hawaiian Willie Kaiama and his team of performers gave surfing demonstrations at Roanoke Island and Virginia Dare Shores in 1928 as part of the events marking the celebration of Virginia Dare Day.

Later, in in the 1930’s, Thomas Fearing of Manteo was surfing with his hand made Hawaiian style board, which was big enough to hold two people

Other early surfing spots in North Carolina include Onslow County, where Marines from Camp Lejeune and their families have gone surfing while on leave, and Wrightsville Beach, where local Burke Bridgers and his friends were experimenting with surfing techniques in 1909. Surfing was even noted as taking place around Morehead City and Beaufort in 1911.

“As of now, we cannot say unequivocally that surfing along the East Coast of the United States started in North Carolina, any more than other locales in the region can make the same claim” says Hairr.

“We do know that surfing along the North Carolina coast was being practiced at least as far back as the first decade of the 20th century, which makes it coeval with the point in time when surfing, which had nearly died out, was undergoing a revival in Hawaii. There are also some intriguing hints that surfing in North Carolina predates the famous surfing exhibitions of George Freeth in California in 1907, which many acknowledge as the birth of the sport along the West Coast of the United States,” he said.

Today, surfing and the beach go hand in hand, but there was a time not too long ago where it was seen as an exotic novelty or a passing fad, but over time it has evolved into a worldwide pastime; a typical beach activity done in every country that borders an ocean.

The presentation will give visitors an opportunity to learn about the history of surfing in our own corner of the world. There is no advance registration and walk-ins are welcome to attend the event.

“We are excited about the opportunity to bring the History of Surfing to Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head,” stated David Cartier, Public Relations Coordinator for the North Carolina Maritime Museum system. “Surfing is synonymous with the Outer Banks so we feel the program will draw a great crowd.’ he said.

The North Carolina Maritime Museum system will also bring The History of Surfing in North Carolina program to the North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport. It will be part of their popular Third Tuesday Evening Adult Program on August 16. For further details, contact the North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport at 910-457-0003.

Jennette's Pier is located at 7223 S. Virginia Dare Trails, Nags Head, NC (Milepost 16.5). For more information, call 252-255-1501 or visit Admission to the event is free. Donations are appreciated.

Posted by Daryl Law at Tuesday, March 1, 2016 | 0 comments

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