Hooked on Fishing in the Lower Cape Fear Region
Story by Lois Carol Wheatley. Photo courtesy of the Wilmington/Cape Fear Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The fishing tackle rides into town strapped to roof racks, affixed to front or back bumpers and sticking out of rear windows. These attractive displays are accented with colorful coolers, beach chairs and umbrellas, and they look like a sort of makeshift parade crossing the Causeway Bridge to Wrightsville Beach, or the Snow's Cut Bridge to Pleasure Island.
From there they fan out. Some head for the fishing piers, Johnnie Mercer in Wrightsville Beach, and two of them on Pleasure Island, one way up at the north end of Carolina Beach and the other a few miles south in the heart of Kure Beach. Some flock to the charter boats anchored in the Masonboro Inlet, Bradley Creek and Banks Channel in Wrightsville and in the Yacht Basin in Carolina Beach.
Some do fly casting from the beach and some head for more sheltered areas on inland waterways. You'll even see the very cagey types sneaking up on their prey noiselessly in canoes, kayaks or on paddleboards.
They compare notes constantly. "What are you catching?" "What are you using for bait?" They are simultaneously collaborating and competing, cheering and cursing.
This is a species notorious for bragging, not only about the size of the catch but the epic struggle of landing it, the pure odds against such a singular event, and the insurmountable obstacles that were overcome along the arduous course of the hero's journey. Some of the world's greatest literature speaks of mankind's eternal quest for fish.
They are ever watchful not to let any kind of opportunity get past them. A big sign across the entrance to the Kure Beach Pier says, "You should have been here last week." You might see a few guys smack their foreheads and ask their buddies what was so important last week that they couldn't have been here.
They study tide charts, phases of the moon, trends in winds, waves and currents, even the locations of submerged shipwrecks where fish are likely to frolic. They spend a fortune on fancy gadgets and snazzy equipment. They compete in tournaments and they join the clubs that sponsor those tournaments.
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