Fishermen vs. surfers at Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen meeting

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Submitted: Fri, 04/12/2013 - 3:09am
Updated: Fri, 04/12/2013 - 12:23pm

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) — Fishermen and surfers faced off at the Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen meeting Thursday night. The two sides battled over the surfing restrictions near both Johnnie Mercer’s Pier and Crystal Pier.

Johnnie Mercer’s Fishing Pier at Wrightsville Beach extends more than 900 feet into the Atlantic ocean. It is not only a hot spot for tourists, but a hot topic at Thursday night’s Wrightsville Beach Board of Alderman Meeting. The board reevaluated no-surfing zones at both Johnnie Mercer’s Pier and Crystal Piers.

Fishermen cast their votes toward no surfing within 500 feet of the piers. They say not only do surfers often get pulled under the pier by the current, but surfers disrupt a sport which attracts tourists. Surfers disagreed with fishermen. They argued that surfing is just as much of a tourist attraction as fishing.

“Anybody who reads National Geographic, look at the top 20 surfing beaches in the world,” said one life-long surfer. “Wrightsville Beach is in that top 20.”

The debate lasted over an hour. Ultimately, the board based the decision on the advice of Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue Director, Dave Baker.

“The ability to maintain and control a safe beach environment for us is that 200 foot (no-surfing zone),” said Baker.

The board voted 3 to 2 in favor of no-surfing zones within 200 feet of both Johnnie Mercer’s Pier and Crystal Pier. The topic will be revisited next month.


  • TIGERCAT says:

    Why cant some areas be designated for surfers and other areas
    designated NO SURFING areas?
    Oh, just a note to surfers, I can cast a plug or bait a helluva
    lot further than 50 feet from a pier or on the surf

  • jj says:

    They I think there should be a restriction that people can’t fish from the beach within 200 feet of someone surfing. Have them go to the pier.

  • confused1 says:

    And when did surfers take possession of the beach? Everyone has to share our public resources.

  • justsayin says:

    I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been minding my own business enjoying a nice break and watched a fisherman setup on the beach directly in front of me and then start casting my direction.

  • GuestO'Day says:

    Sorry, jj…. I have already paid for my licence to fish. I don’t think it fair that NOW I’d need to pay for a pier admission to do the same.

  • Get a Clue says:

    You might want to look up what our fishing/hunting/ boat fees pay for then your understand. Besides surfing is over rated. You surfers always thing you have the right for everything. I think its time to charge surfers licenses. Besides 90% of all the tourism in our area come to see the beach with family and fish not surf.

  • Guest Reply says:

    How do the fish feel about this? Either way…they’re Dead Meat and History! :-(
    Next there will be a license to surf you have to pay for!
    Oooops! Sorry surfers…I done did it now :-(

  • Guest6969696969 says:

    99.9 % can cast a “Gotcha plug” 200+ feet from the pier Spanish fishing,, Whoop’s a “Surfer” in the way? Hmm fresh MEAT for blue-fish fishing, excellent “cut-bait”….
    The “Commissioners” dropped the ball on this One, Seriously..
    500 feet @ LEAST!
    For those ALL involved…

  • igotchaplugrighthere says:

    Swimmers now have to stay 200 feet from both piers. Old rules it was only 100 feet. That’s a little consolation for ya.

  • John says:

    First off, I surf and I don’t fish (never had any luck catching fish, on the other hand I am better at catching waves) so I am probably biased/don’t understand the intricacies of surf fishing, or fishing from a pier. That said, the argument for having a no surf zone 200 feet from a pier for the surfers safety is hogwash, you would have to be trying to run into the pier, I mean like really really trying! On a choppier windy day, sure you have to watch the drift, but I generally your going to go to the down wind side of the pier.

    Second I can’t say I have seen guys cast more than fifty feet from the pier, and when they do it is out towards the ocean not down the line up. So I feel like there is an amicable way to resolve this for all parties, sure I would like it to be surf anywhere but I know some people are tools and will want to surf right under the pier and ruin it for the people fishing, I think a hundred foot no surf zone would be enough room for fisher men and would provide safety to the surfers. But please please get rid of the buoy, it is the most dangerous thing in the water, even if you are past the two hundred foot no surf zone. It’s hard to see, its right in the middle of the break (most of the time) and if your leash gets wrapped around it, its going to be a bad day for that person.

    Third, for the general surf fishing, once again I don’t fish so I don’t know, but I don’t feel like there is a huge benefit of setting up shop right where the waves are popping! go to a dead zone and set up, we can only surf on good wave days and only in certain spots. YOU CAN FISH ANYWHERE!!! well anywhere there is water, so find a spot that isn’t a surfer hotspot, have some fun, we will have fun in our spot and everyone can have a good time!!! Now there will be those days where the waves are just amazing and there will be hundreds upon hundreds of surfers in the water, I know, you really wanted to go fishing, but these days don’t happen all the time be considerate, fish somewhere without a break. Maybe on the south or north end please. If not thats cool, just try to find a spot with no surfers. I always try to stay away from fishermen, I am sorry if some surfers are stupid, some guys who fish are stupid and set up right at the best spot, I know being stupid is a fairly universal human trait, just go with, and I will try to roll with it also! It isn’t an us or them, its a how can this work well for everyone, and please get rid of the buoy its just a hazard!

  • Dodathis says:

    I have to have a license to surf fish and a license to surf would be a great idea.

  • ChefnSurf says:

    That’s like having a license to swim.

  • Dodathis says:

    I have to have a license to surf fish and a license to surf would be a great idea.

  • Guest350 says:

    I am neither a fisherman or a surfer. I could not care less about either. However, if I were a surfer, I don’t think anyone would have to tell me or pass a law keeping me a safe distance from fishing lines and hooks. It is simple, common sense to stay away from this type of danger. Obviously, the surfing crowd does not possess enough mental capacity to understand this, so someone must point it out by passing regulations to protect them against themselves. Makes sense, now, does it not?

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