Wilmington of North Carolina is a popular spot for anglers looking to get hooked in coastal fishing. Home to a variety of lakes and creeks, this Port City is never short of anything fishing related – with bait and tackle stores, charter services, and piers readily available. But while you’re spoiled for choice, how would you decide which is best for you? Well, fret not because we’ve picked out 7 of the best fishing pier locations in Wilmington, NC today. So, come along for the ride and explore the best catches you can find with us.
Carolina Beach Fishing Pier
The Carolina Beach Fishing Pier is a top spot for anglers and tourists looking to reel in unique saltwater fishes along the North Carolina coastline. Also fondly known as the Carolina Beach Fishing Pier Northern Extension, visitors will be treated to miles of clear sandy beaches and a 700 feet wooden pier walkway where you can cast a rod into the waters in search for fishes such as flounders, mullets, and mackerel in the summer.
The highlight of the pier however, comes in spring and fall where anglers may be able to hook a king mackerel or with luck even find North Carolina’s popular red and black drum fish. The pier opens daily from 7:30 am and if you’re looking to stay the night, there are a variety of vacation houses settled on the south of the pier to choose from.
Johnnie Mercers Fishing Pier
Named after its original owner, famous singer and songwriter Johnnie Mercer, the Jonnie Mercers Fishing Pier is arguably the best fishing spots in North Carolina. The pier itself stretches across 1,200 feet into the sea, offering visitors unforgettable views of the Atlantic Oceans where anglers can drop their lines into.
Reeling in king mackerels and drum fishes are the highlight of the Johnnie Mercers Fishing Pier in spring and fall, while summertime will land you buckets of Croakers, Pompano, and even Sheepshead – a small yet delicious fish when prepared right. If you’re lucky, you may even reel in a rare Hammerhead Shark in the waters. There are plenty of restaurants and local motels available in case you wish to stay the night, and if you need extra equipment on your fishing day out, there are several bait and tackle stores available on-site.
Kure Beach Fishing Pier
Originally built in 1923, the Kure Beach Fishing Pier is known as the oldest fishing pier available on the Atlantic Coastline. Since then, this fishing pier has since been at the mercy of various weather conditions, prompting numerous rebuilds with better reinforcement over the years.
Today, the family-owned Kure Beach Fishing Pier retains its popularity among tourists and anglers, being especially popular for the Virginia Mullet in early spring and fishes such as the King Mackerel, Tarpon, and even sharks on summer nights. An annual Cape Fear Disabled Sportsman’s Fishing Tournament is also held here in April, allowing anglers with special needs to join in the fun in reeling in fresh catches all day long.
River Road Park Fishing Pier
Nestled by the edge of Cape Fear River, the River Road Park Fishing Pier stands out as a dock more than a pier. Fitting in no more than 20 fishing enthusiasts at a time, it’s a spot best visited by anyone looking to fish away from the crowd.
Here, you’ll be able to reel in species such as the Largemouth Bass, Trout, and Redfish all year round. Unfortunately, there are no fishing stores nearby, so you’ll have to come prepared if you wish to fish all day. The River Road Park Fishing Pier also makes for a great family-friendly escapade, with picnic spots, a children’s playground for the little ones, and restrooms available on-site. It’s open from dawn to dusk daily, although this is subject to change by the authorities of New Hanover County.
Oak Island Pier
Established in 1955, the Oak Island Pier was originally known as the Yaupon Pier as it sits on the Yaupon Beach. Stretching impressively 908 feet into the Atlantic Ocean, the pier stands 27 feet above sea levels, earning it the recognition of being the highest pier in North Carolina.
For anglers, the Oak Island Pier is especially known to be the best spot in reeling in a King Mackerel. This is as the pier holds the record of bringing in over 250 kings yearly. In 1966, an angler even caught a shocking 1,150 lb Tiger Shark from the pier – a record tiger shark catch size that remains the largest in the state even up to today. If you’re simply visiting and find yourself without a rod but itching to cast a line, fishing rods are available for rent at the Pier House located along the coastline.
Sunset Beach Pier
Located by the end of Sunset Boulevard, the Sunset Beach Pier is a hotspot for anglers looking to enjoy a relaxing day out to cast their lines into the oceans. Featuring catches such as Sea Mullets and Stripe Basses in spring, anglers often find themselves hooked to this 906 feet-long pier from the March till Thanksgiving – essentially when the piers are open.
At nightfall, the Sunset Beach Pier also lights up for easy night fishing. There are also plenty of fishing stores living the pier, while restaurants and other snacking establishments are ready to fill your bellies with fresh seasonal catches all day long. For sightseers, there is even a walking tour that takes you on a trip down memory lane of this seaside town for a small fee.
Holden Beach Pier
The Holden Beach Pier is a haven to anglers looking to fish up big catches for the day. Home to a variety of species such as the Speckled Trout, Ladyfish, Spadefish, and more, fishing enthusiasts are often seen casting their rods off this 700-foot-long pier from day till well into the night. But beyond just fishing, it’s the amenities available that attract anglers and their families to enjoy days out in the sun at Holden Beach Pier. With restaurants offering delicious seasonal meals and tackle and bait stores offering fishing tips, it’s no wonder locals and tourists alike make Holden Beach Pier a must-visit location come summer.
For RV owners, you could also make your way to the campground where over 60 RV spots with full access to electric, water, and sewer services are available for rent. Prices may vary according to the season, but usually range between $25 to $60 a night and offers immediate access to the ocean.
What to prepare if you’re going fishing in Wilmington, NC
If you’re looking to cast a rod in Wilmington, do remember that you’ll need a local North Carolina fishing license to do so. This is mandatory for any anglers who are 16 and above. Available in a variety of a 10-day, annual, or lifetime basis, a fishing license can easily be procured online. If you’re looking to buy a license while you’re there, you could also pop in to any of the local fishing stores or large establishments such as Kmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods. For anglers who are out on chartered fishing trips, do check if your captain’s license will cover your fishing allowance, and if it does you wouldn’t have to get your own.