By Jeff Samsel

A piece of good news I found on Facebook this morning was that the Oceanana Pier at Atlantic Beach, N.C., stood strong through Hurricane Matthew. I can’t deny that my relief was partly selfish. I fished this 57-year-old pier for the first time a couple of weeks ago. I was impressed with what I found and am looking forward to many returns.

I’m an admitted pier junkie. I grew up in Clearwater, Fla., and have enjoyed countless days and nights fishing from bridges and piers in the Tampa Bay area. I used to arrive at Big Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach just before sundown and fish until daylight returned, catching and releasing trout all night long. I live five hours from any coast now, so pier outings aren’t quite as handy.

My recent visit to Atlantic Beach was for the purpose fishing out of boats with Bomber pro staffers Daniel Griffee and Dave Bernstein, but I planned an extra day just so I could do some pier fishing and exploration of the area. 

I stayed at the Oceanana Family Motel and was delighted the pier, which is open 24 hours a day, is at the end of the motel parking lot. During the offseason (which we’re in now) a stay at the motel includes fishing passes for the pier. I was on the pier and fishing within 15 minutes of checking in. Within another 15 minutes I was unhooking my first of several bluefish.

The bluefish/Spanish mackerel bite was hot when I was in town. I think it was starting to taper even before the storm, so it might have been swept away. However, speckled trout were just starting to show up, and I’m told that the pier offers outstanding fall trout fishing.

Some folks push carts loaded with rods, buckets and tackle boxes onto piers to set up for the night, and I might do likewise if I lived nearer and could spend more time on piers. However, I really like a simple approach, and the motel and pier being together makes it easy to keeping things simple. I carried only single rod and a couple of small boxes of lures in a backpack, knowing I could easily return to the car or my room to get other gear as needed. The location of the pier also makes it handy to spend night or a weekend at the motel and walk out to make casts for half an hour or half a day at any given time.

Making a good thing even better, entry to the pier is through the Pier House Restaurant, which also includes bait and tackle shop. The motel offers private access to a stretch of Atlantic Beach. What that means is that once you pull into the motel parking lot you don’t have to leave again until the end of your trip if you don’t want to.

No doubt I’ll be back.

For More Information

Oceanana Family Motel - http://www.oceanana.com/

Oceanana Pier & Pier House Restaurant - http://www.oceananapier.com/

Dinner Recommendation: shrimp burger & fish stew or daily fresh catch special

Lure Recommendations: Original Nylure Jig, Nylure Pompano Jig, Stand-Up Jig Head (with frozen bait), Badonk-A-Donk SS.