Yaupon Pier was heavily damaged in Hurricane Matthew
The Oak Island Pier, also called the Yaupon Pier, reopened to anglers earlier this month. And while anglers are already catching some fish, the very end of the pier is still under construction. That T-shaped section should be completed long before the fall king mackerel run.
“We are expecting that section will be completed by the end of this month. Right now, the rest of the pier is open. Our shop is open with some snacks, beverages, and basic fishing tackle. And we have a variety of frozen bait. Also, the restaurant is open Wednesday through Saturday,” said pier manager Jerry Dilsaver.
Dilsaver said cleaning tables are being constructed for the pier, and will be set up with freshwater and nice cutting surfaces. And they’ll be located where anything that falls off of them will land in the water whether it’s high tide or low tide. A bait well will also be added to the T once it is complete.
The full length of the pier, 850 feet, has actually been completed. But additional bracing is being added to the end of the pier. So that section is closed off to foot traffic as crews get that bracing in place.
Fishermen are already catching quality fish
“Anglers are catching some good fish, mainly in the early and late parts of the day. We had some really good flounder caught recently. And anglers are also catching croaker, whiting, speckled trout, black drum, and some redfish. Some Spanish mackerel have been caught just down the beach from us. But so far none have been caught here,” Dilsaver said.
Most anglers are using a double-hook rig, similar to what surf anglers use. But the flounder specialists are using Carolina rigs, he said.
Hurricane Matthew heavily damaged the pier in 2016. The last 150 feet of the pier collapsed during the storm. (Click here for video). It reopened about two weeks later. But officials closed it again in the spring of 2017 when they declared it unsafe. The town decided to tear down the remaining portion and rebuild from scratch.
The pier was originally built in 1955, rebuilt in 1972, and closed after heavy damage from Hurricane Hugo in 1989. It was rebuilt again in 1992. And with this year’s reconstruction, engineers have employed some features that should make the pier a little less prone to the same type of storm damage it has suffered in previous times.
“You can’t hurricane-proof a pier, but we like to think this one is a little more hurricane resistant than it was before,” said Dilsaver.
One noticeable feature that should aid the pier in remaining upright during the next such storm is the fiberglass grate that extends the full length of the pier down the middle of the structure. This grate will allow water to quickly flow straight through the pier when waves crash over it or when those waves hit the planks from below.
“When a hurricane comes through, it’s not the waves crashing on the pilings that makes a pier collapse. The waves crash into the planks from the top and bottom until they break loose. And when they break loose, the pilings don’t have that support any longer. That’s when the pilings topple. With this new design, the water shouldn’t break those planks loose because the water will just flow straight through and quickly off the pier,” said Dilsaver.
The pier partially reopened in May, but no fishing was allowed then. Guests were only allowed to walk on the pier, but now it’s open to anglers too. And while the pier previously charged for people walking the pier, they can now stroll on the structure for free.
The Oak Island Pier is located at 705 Ocean Drive in Oak Island.