Sunday, November 02, 2008
By Richard E. Noble
We first learned about pier fishing on our adventure Hobo-ing America. When we were bumming around America a convenient seaside pier offered several advantages. The first was, of course, fish, crabs and whatever other type of seafood drifted around under the pier. The next big advantage was free camping. Most piers encouraged all night fishing - or at least didn't discourage it. If the parking was limited at the pier there was usually a tavern or cafe nearby with a friendly owner who welcomed customers and strangers. We camped for a week at a bar and sandwich shop across the street for a beautiful pier in Oceanside California. We caught all kinds of fish, stone crabs, and we ate delicious yellow tailed tuna that we bought from a guy who had a mobile stand and smoked it right there on the pier. There was also a small diner at the end of the pier where we drank coffee and took a break from fishing every few hours.
When we retired from oystering, we retired from boating. A nice fellow invited us out on his deepwater fishing boat a few years after we sold Hobo's Ice Cream Parlor. As Carol and I sat on a bench seat with our butt bone being pounded into our sculls, we looked at each other with the same thought in mind, Why are we doing this? We caught a few fish that day but that was the last time we went boating.
We haven't been out on a boat in over 10 years now - but we still fish regularly. We love the Eastpoint fishing pier - and we haven't been skunked yet. Every year we fill our freezer with spotted trout, silver or sugar trout, crokers, flounder, whiting and maybe a few nice redfish if we happen to be lucky. Last season we even caught several messes of Spanish mackerel.
We buy some frozen or fresh shrimp at the local bait and tackle shop in Eastpoint – Fisherman’s Choice. We get our rigs and weights there also. I like the two hook leader with the weight at the bottom. Carol uses the one hook rig. It is the same kind of a rig that you would use for fishing in the surf. We buy #4 long shank hooks and a one ounce weight. We bring a five gallon bucket that we drop off the edge and fill with bay water to wash our hands, a net on a long rope that we designed ourselves for bringing up those big ones, a cooler with ice cold drinks and beer that doubles as a fresh fish carrier, two or three fishing poles, a tackle box, and at least one collapsible cloth chair.
And there we sit or stand - cold drinks, snack food, plenty of nice people to talk to, no waves, no expensive gasoline, no boat to wash, no two hour ride out to the "secret" fishing spot, no motor problems, no trailer, no coast guard, no Conservation man, no tow boats, no boat insurance, no licenses, no jammed props, no seasickness, no problems.
We consider ourselves "professional" pier fishing people - but there are people out there who are much more sophisticated than us.
We cart all our paraphernalia out onto the pier with an old handcart or warehouse dolly. Some folk have two and three hundred dollar wagons complete with pole holders and fish cleaning boards. We saw two pier professionals last weekend who both had hydraulic carriers on the back of their SUVs. When they were done fishing they simply wheeled their wagons onto their hydraulic carriers - cooler, tackle box, poles and all, elevated their lift and headed back to Georgia, Alabama, Marianna, Panama City or wherever. One lady even had an electronic beeper on her reel that beeped and flashed when she was getting a bite.
Pier fishing supplies us with all we need - a little exercise walking out, usually a cool ocean breeze, a pleasant view of our beautiful bay and estuary, a spectacular sunset, the fun of catching fish, the joy of eating a batch of sautéed, baked or fried fish fillets, limited expense, nice people who enjoy similar excitement, comfort and a firm place to stand - no Dramamine necessary.
I have to laugh sometimes when I see boats pull up right next to the pier. They have the whole bay but where do they come? Right to the pier. The boats are rocking this way and that. When they hook a fish everyone falls all over one another. They are all wearing these three hundred dollar life preservers that are so bulky they can barely manage their poles. Carol and I just smile. What a pleasure it is to be a professional, BOAT-LESS pier fisherman. We've got it made.
Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother, Hobo-ing America and A Summer with Charlie are books written by Richard E. Noble. They are all for sale on Amazon.com. Richard Noble is a freelance writer and has been a resident of Eastpoint for 30 years. If you would like to stock his books in your store or business call 850-670-8076 or email Richard at firstname.lastname@example.org.