Wilmington and the surrounding area of beautiful New Hanover County are renowned for their spectacular coastal fishing. Here, something’s biting pretty much year round, and the best part is, it’s all happening right at your feet. To experience this incredible reel action first hand, all you need to do is visit one of the local fishing piers. Not sure which one to choose? Look no further – this guide will show you all you need to know about the best fishing piers around Wilmington, North Carolina.
Johnnie Mercers Fishing Pier
Jutting an impressive 1,200 feet out into the ocean, Johnnie Mercers fishing pier combines picture-perfect views of the Atlantic with some of the best pier fishing you’ll see on the entire East Coast. At the foot of the pier, you’ll find all the facilities you need for a successful day of angling.
If you don’t have a rod of your own, there’s a bait and tackle shop where you can rent one. Right next to the store, you’ll find a small restaurant if you want to grab a bite. And if you want to do some night Shark fishing, there are even a few motels within walking distance for you to spend the night in.
Speaking of Sharks, they’re somewhat of a specialty around here. Seeing a Hammerhead is not an unfamiliar sight if you’re a local. That being said, Shark fishing is only legal from a handful of fishing piers in North Carolina.
There’s plenty of other fish swimming around here. Barracuda and Kingfish visit the pier on a regular basis, as well as Sheepshead and the occasional Cobia. As for the licensing, the daily pier fishing fee will cover your license for the day. The fee is prone to change, but is usually in the $8–$10 range.
Kure Beach Fishing Pier
Dating way back to 1923, Kure Beach Fishing Pier is the oldest standing fishing pier on the Atlantic coast. This family-owned venue boasts a seasonal concession stand with ice cream, an arcade, and a souvenir area.
The bait and tackle store, which works from April 1 until Thanksgiving Sunday, is where you’ll be able to buy your fishing permit. The permit costs $8, and is valid until midnight of the same day. If you’re not fishing, entrance to the pier is free.
There’s a wide variety of fish on offer in these waters. In early spring, you’ll find a healthy dose of Blues and Whiting (Virginia Mullet). Early summer brings Flounder and Spanish Mackerel to the pier. But the best time to visit is mid summer, when things heat up with Kingfish, Tarpon, and Sharks (at night).
Carolina Beach Fishing Pier
Braving the Atlantic waves for more than half a century, iconic Carolina Beach fishing pier welcomes anglers and sightseers on a daily basis. The pier opens at 7:30 a.m. with a $5 fishing permit (prone to change).
Although parts of it were destroyed by hurricane Florence, Carolina Beach fishing pier still makes our list as a must-see. The 700′ wooden pier boasts a wide walkway, dotted with benches ideal for relaxing and enjoying the views.
Listening to the sound of creaking wooden planks beneath your feet, you’ll come to realize that the location of this family-owned attraction couldn’t be better. To the north, you’ll see miles of undeveloped white sand beaches. To the south, you’ll see colorful vacation houses perfect for a weekend getaway.
Carolina Beach fishing pier is just 5 miles away from Kure Beach fishing pier. While both offer spectacular fishing opportunities, the former is a little more secluded. If you want a calmer experience with little-to-nothing to stand in your view, this is the place for you.
River Road Park Fishing Pier
Wilmington wouldn’t be the fishery that it is without access to the bountiful Cape Fear River. The 200-mile river offers an incredible variety of species to go for, with one of the very best spots in River Road Park, right in front of downtown Wilmington. These brackish waters are home to Largemouth Bass, as well as Redfish, Sheepshead, and Trout.
You’ll be casting for these critters off River Road Park’s fishing pier. More a dock than an actual pier, the small wooden jetty offers room for no more than 20 anglers to cast their lines at a time. Considering its prime location on Cape Fear River, that’ll be all the space you need. The pier is also disabled accessible.
With easy boat access and the slow-running waters of Cape Fear River, River Road Park is a popular choice among kayakers and paddle boarders. The park itself doesn’t offer boat or kayak rentals, so you’ll have to either rent one on Carolina Beach or bring your own.
There’s ample parking space at the park’s entrance. Inside the park, you’ll find picnic grounds, a children’s playground, and restrooms. The park is pet friendly, as long as your pets are leashed.
And Many More
Whether it’s freshwater or saltwater, Wilmington and New Hanover County are sitting on some amazing fishing grounds. Thanks to the many fishing piers around Wilmington, not only are these spots just minutes away from downtown, they’re incredibly easy to access, as well. That means that you could be wrestling some hard-fighting freshwater critters for lunch, and catching exciting Atlantic game for dinner. Not a bad deal if you ask us.
And now, we turn it over to you. Have you ever fished from one of the fishing piers around Wilmington? What did you catch? Let us know in the comments below.