The Avon Fishing Pier typically closes for the season on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, but this year, historic fishing conditions have led to a week-long extension – and some very happy anglers.
For the first couple of days after the annual wintertime closure, the longtime manager of the pier, Keith Matthews, typically lets some of the locals fish while he is cleaning up and preparing the pier house for the winter.
But this year has been a little bit different.
Beginning on Monday, the sea mullet began a record bite, and coupled with the warm weather, the pier quickly found itself shoulder to shoulder with anglers hauling in hundreds of catches.
“The sea mullets [that are being caught] are routinely one pound or more, and people have been catching 200 sea mullets in the span of two or three hours,” says Joe Thompson, owner of the Avon Fishing Pier. “People are leaving with entire coolers full – it’s remarkable.”
The sea mullet bite continued all week long, and starting on Thursday, November 30, the big red drum moved in with more than 40 drum landed on Thursday alone, per the Avon Fishing Pier’s Facebook page.
Friday morning saw the action continue with 17 big reds landed in first couple of hours of fishing. Most of the drum caught in the past several days have been in the 40-50 inch range, and as of Friday afternoon, the red drum tally was hovering around 70 catches total since Thursday.
“When you have drum bites like this, the weather is [typically] rough, and the fishing for other species isn’t that good,” says Thompson. “But yesterday it was slick out, and they were catching thousands of sea mullet while the guys at the end of the pier were catching four drum at a time.”
“This is Keith’s 27th year at the pier, and he says that he’s never seen this before. He’s seen some big drum bites, but he’s never seen a drum bite like this, with other fish getting caught,” he adds.
After a couple of days of steady action, and more crowds showing up, Keith and crew decided to keep the pier open to the public through Sunday, December 3.
During this slight extension of the season, fishing passes are also being offered at children’s prices, which is $7 per day.
Thompson reports that word is spreading, and anglers are coming to Hatteras Island from as far away as New Jersey to fish on the Avon Fishing Pier this week. “The phone has been ringing off the hook,” he says.
And with good weather forecast for the rest of the weekend, anglers who plan a last-minute getaway to Hatteras Island will likely get to join in the historic action. “We’re expecting the bite to continue,” says Thompson.