Stir-crazy residents were treated to a new outlet for outdoor activity while maintaining social distance guidelines last week when the Rodanthe Fishing Pier opened to the public on Saturday, April 25, for the 2020 season.
Folks who remember the post-Dorian damage will also notice some changes at the pier, thanks to the recent addition of a 12’ foot-wide ramp that provides better accessibility, and hopefully, more reliability when it comes to future storms.
“We’re been wanting to do this project for a while,” said pier Owner / Manager Terry Plumblee. “The old ramp was steep and hard to walk up…. The new ramp is a lot sturdier than the old ramp, and much wider.”
In the short term, the ramp will provide easier access to the pier itself for visitors and all the gear they require for a full day of fishing. In the long term, the wider and stronger ramp will also make it easier to conduct repairs to the pier, as needed.
“In order to do repairs to the pier itself, we have to be able to get equipment onto the pier, and with the small ramp, we had [difficulty],” said Plumblee.
“The new ramp is a whole lot easier to use – the slope is not as severe as the old ramp,” he added.
The ramp project started in late February, just before the COVID-19 pandemic became a national issue and closed businesses across the state, and the country.
But the Rodanthe Pier, (which also has a pier house store complete with drinks, snacks, gear, and gifts), provides a relatively safe setting where folks can enjoy an out-of-the-house break, and take advantage of the great fishing that the late spring months on the Outer Banks has to offer.
Both pier staff and visitors wear masks when needed, although it’s fairly easy to find a quiet and isolated spot along the pier to call your own.
“We’re open, but we’re observing social distancing,” said Plumblee. “We tell people to stay six feet apart on the pier, and that’s going well, and we allow up to 10 people maximum on the deck.”
The wide pier does have ample elbow room to fish without getting too close to other anglers, and visitors have been rewarded with some great catches – especially in recent days. Plumblee reports that folks have been catching black drum, bluefish, sea mullet, sheepshead, puppy drum, puffers, sharks and lots of other species. “Sunday was really good.”
And the opening of the pier serves several purposes at once, for both staff and visitors.
“We want to put our people back to work. That’s number one,” said Plumblee. “And people are looking for something to do on these nice days, and this gives them something fun to [enjoy.]”
Since opening, the Rodanthe Pier has welcomed anglers from communities throughout Dare County, and from Manteo to Hatteras village. With property owners arriving this week, interest in the pier will likely continue to grow – especially if the great fishing conditions continue as well.
“We’re looking forward to the non-resident property owners coming back,” said Plumblee. “That starts [Monday], and we’ll be happy to have those guys back down.”