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Piers of the Outer Banks: Nags Head Fishing Pier

The sign at the entrance to Nags Head Fishing Pier reads: “The Happiest People in the World Pass Through These Doors.”

The owner of the pier for the last 33 years, Andy McCann strives to make each customer’s experience a happy one. “We cater to families,” he said. “We’ve raised a bunch of kids on this pier.”

Jim Wilson, who has been working at the counter for 20 years selling tackle and helping customers, agreed: “Now they’re coming back with their kids and grandkids.”

Jeff Penner is one of those kids. “I’ve been fishing here with my dad since 1978,” he said. A retired power lineman, he now works at Nags Head Fishing Pier, opening the pier first thing in the morning and running the front counter. “It’s not really work. I get to see the sun rise every morning and I get to fish,” he laughed.

The store has a nostalgic feel, with fishing line and lures hanging from the walls, rows of brightly colored bait and coolers full of snow cones. The store offers everything needed to go fishing, including pole rentals, rods and reels for sale and all the tackle for any kind of fish in season. The owner’s dog (or as McCann says “I belong to him”), Finn, a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, warmly greets customers, especially if they have a snack for him.

The Pier House Restaurant is adorned with dozens of framed photographs on its honey-stained wooden walls – of lifeguards through the seasons, fisherman and friends. Diners can order off the full menu or opt for the “You Hook ‘Em – We Cook ’Em” special. According to the menu, “catch and clean your fish and we’ll cook ’em – served with French fries, slaw and hushpuppies.” Enjoy fish fried, grilled or blackened.

Those wanting to enjoy a meal surrounded by spectacular ocean views and the fresh salty air can visit Capt. Andy’s Oceanfront Tiki Bar (named because the owner actually is a licensed captain). The same kitchen services both the restaurant and the tiki bar. There are over 30 beers on tap and the majority are local craft beers. “We try to offer as many North Carolina products as possible,” McCann said, which also include eggs, hot dogs, barbecue and breading for the fish.

Customers can also take meals out onto the 700-foot pier and eat on the brightly painted picnic tables and watch the fisherman. “You can’t beat it,” said fisherman Greg Basil, who traveled from Cape May, NJ to come fishing on the Outer Banks. “The people are friendly and the fishing’s good. It’s reasonably priced and it’s clean, very clean.”

The pier is open from 5:30 a.m. until midnight, seven days per week. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, it’s open 24 hours per day and there’s always someone working to help fisherman get the gear they need to catch fish.

“We’re looking forward to a full season,” McCann said.

The owner plans to continue the restoration on the pier from Hurricane Dorian in 2019, which wiped out about 150 feet of the pier. He added 60 feet last year at a cost of $250,000 and plans to add more in the future.

Nags Head Fishing Pier is located at 2225 South Virginia Dare Trail, milepost 11.5. For restaurant hours or more information, visit them online at nagsheadpier.com or call 252-441-5141.

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