KURE BEACH, NC (WECT) - More than 2,200 people call Kure Beach home and it is a popular family destination for beach vacations.
But the town also attracts thousands of people with fishing rods and reels in hand hoping to catch big ones on the oldest fishing pier on the east coast.
In the 1870s, Hans Kure and his sons started a variety of businesses and amusements on a narrow strip of land they purchased between the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean.
It included the construction of Dow Road, the first highway in the state to lead directly to the ocean, and the building of the first Kure Beach Fishing Pier.
That pier stood just one year, destroyed by sea worms and marine borers.
The next year, the pier was rebuilt and stood for 30 years but not even the new cement pilings that were used could withstand the fury of Hurricane Hazel, which washed the pier away in 1954.
"It has been completely knocked down by storms five times, once about every ownership, of course, the last one being Bertha and Fran in 1996," said Paul Robertson, one of the owners of the Kure Beach Fishing Pier.
The pier has been knocked down, but not out. Hans Kure's determination led the family to rebuild or repair the pier since it first opened in 1923.
“It has been in the family since it was started,” Robertson said. “It is what made this town the way that it is, and without the pier, who knows what this would look like. You would not have the business district for sure because there would not be any reason for anybody to come down here besides vacationing and staying on the beach.”
Those who fish off the pier can expect to see a wide variety of fish, including blues and whiting in the early spring and flounder and Spanish mackerel in early summer.
When the weather really warms up, you can get some king mackerel, tarpon, red and black drum, sheepshead, and more.
Autumn features the annual run of spots.
The Kure Beach Fishing Pier is one of just a few piers that does not charge people to walk out on it, and Robertson says it is like a love affair for people to take a stroll out to the end.
"It is just something different for them to say, 'I walked over the Atlantic Ocean,'" Robertson said. "We get people who have never seen the ocean before be able to walk out here and feel the breeze come off the ocean. It is just something different about it. You can't get that sensation on a lake."
Hurricane Florence caused extensive damage to other fishing piers along the Carolina coast, but the Kure Beach pier sustained only minor damage to some of its railings.
Since the storm, it has been business as usual.