Category Archives: Things To Do In Topsail NC

Surf City Fishing Pier – It’s that time of year!

by Donna Byrd

“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that is not fish they are after.” Henry David  Thoreau

“There ain’t but one time to go fishin’, and that’s whenever you can.”     Diron Talbert

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Fall is the season for fishing here in Sneads Ferry and Topsail Island. And with that in mind, on a warm and sunny Thursday afternoon in November, I decided to visit the Surf City Ocean Pier. With all the rain we’ve had recently, I couldn’t resist the urge to get out in the beautiful weather before it turned cold. What better way was there to spend an afternoon than on a pier with the sun bearing down on your back, the wind in your face and the sea whipping up white caps underneath your feet? I headed down the island to find the pier.

FullSizeRender (1)I’ve never been much of a fisherman but my granddaddy was. He had a small boat he’d take out into the coastal waters of North Carolina. Spending the evening going through his fishing gear and tackle box, he’d go to bed really early and get up at three o’clock in the morning to head “down to the coast.” He’d come home about “dark thirty” with his cooler loaded down with ice and fish and then proceed to clean them on a special “cleaning table” he had built on the back of his property. My grandmother wouldn’t clean them but she sure could cook them!  I loved it when she would call our house and say, “We’re cooking up a mess of fish that Luther caught yesterday.  Y’all come over, we’re having a fish fry.” Those are some of the best memories of my childhood.

Upon arriving at the pier and I realized that I had to park down the street. The parking lots around the pier area were full and cars lined both sides of the street. If all of those people were fishing I wouldn’t be disappointed. I was going to find me a fishing story!

FullSizeRender (3)Hungry, I remembered that I had read that the grill at the pier was known for its hamburgers. I ordered one and chatted with the friendly clerk behind the counter. She gave me a bit of the pier’s history.

Surf City Ocean Pier was the first pier built on Topsail Island in 1948. In 1973, a resident from Smithfield, NC, Edwin Lore, bought the landmark pier and it’s been in his family since then. Over the years it had weathered many storms and hurricanes but in 1996 it was destroyed by Hurricane Fran. The Lore family rebuilt it and in August of 1997 it reopened to the relief and joy of local and vacationing fishermen.

FullSizeRender (9)The pier is nine hundred and thirty-seven feet long with a forty foot octagon shaped deck at the end. It has two large fish cleaning stations with fresh, running water on it and there is lots of lighting for night fishing.  Looking around me, I noticed that the place was a fisherman’s paradise, chock full of fishing equipment, tackle and had a good selection of bait. You could even buy souvenirs in the gift area.There was even a record board mounted on the back wall, showing the largest fish ever caught off the pier. The records were impressive!

FullSizeRender (10)My cheeseburger was ready and I headed out to the dining area outside. It was a nice, shady area that overlooked a little garden filled with whimsical signs, fountains and flowers. What a lovely surprise! I sat at an umbrellaed table and just for a moment, had a sensory overload: ocean, sea breeze, gulls laughing, waves crashing and the smell of a good burger wafting up to tantalize me. Wait a minute. Was this heaven?

An old fellow shuffled down from the pier and sat down heavily in a chair near me. He had a blue cooler with a fishing pole attached to it. Looking tired he settled back in his seat and I could see that he was resting. I couldn’t help but start a conversation with him.

“Did you catch anything,” I asked. “Well,” he said. “I got me two blue fish but somebody gave those to me.  The most thing I caught was some fresh air.” He laughed when he said that and shook his head. “Yeah, got me some fresh air and two fish. That’s about it for me today. My sciatic nerve is bothering me. Pain all down my leg. Done all I can do for today.” I thought that for someone in pain, he still looked content and happy.

I asked if I could see his fish and he opened the cooler and seemed just as proud of them as if he had caught them himself. I wanted to know more about this “old timer.”

“Do you mind if I ask you your name?”FullSizeRender (11)

“No, my name is Clarence.”

Clarence, my name is Donna and I write blogs for Treasure Realty. Today, I’m writing about this pier. Is it OK if I mention you in it?”

“No. I don’t mind,” he smiled. “A blog, huh?”

“Yes. You can be famous to somebody reading my blog,” I laughed.

“Are you a local, Clarence?  You live around here?”

“Well, I live in Wilmington but this is where I like to come to fish.”

“How long have you been coming here?”

“About fifteen years.”

“Wow.  That’s a long time. What is it about this pier that makes you want to come all the way from Wilmington just to fish here?”

“I like it because it’s clean. The one I used to go to in Wilmington has a bar above it and after a while, people get too foul-mouthed. When they drink, they end up saying what’s in their hearts. I don’t like that. This place is clean, no alcohol.  It’s a good place.”

I shook Clarence’s hand and told him I’m glad he liked coming to Surf City Pier. I wished him a good day and told him I hoped his leg would stop hurting. He sat there, grinning. I could see that just being there made him happy.

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I decided it was time to “walk the planks” and headed on up to the pier. It was loaded with people! They were mainly standing on the left, the northeast side. I asked someone why was everyone standing on that side. “The fish up north are headed down south to the warmer waters. We’re trying to catch them as they migrate.” That made sense to me. I supposed that in the springtime, they would fish from the right side of the pier as the fish headed back up north.

As I walked toward the end of the pier, I saw one fisherman after another, pull fish from the ocean; blues, spot, black drum, trout and flounder. There was such a happy spirit on the planks. At the octagon shaped deck on the end, I noticed that most of the fishermen there were seated with their buddies, talking and laughing, while their poles were stationed by the edge, waiting for a nibble or bite. These folks knew how to enjoy a beautiful day!FullSizeRender

Coming back towards the tackle and bait shop, I realized I had never seen so many blue coolers in one place. They almost formed a line down the nine hundred and thirty-seven feet of wooden planks. I stopped and asked one of the men if I could look inside his cooler. He proudly showed me his catch of the day: a cooler full of some flat, brownish flounder. I could imagine a fish fry for his family in the near future.

The day was gorgeous and the fish were biting. The breeze was stiff and the American flag hoisted up over the pier was unfurled and stiff in the wind. I realized I had let my worries fly away with the breeze just as these happy folks had and that I had picked up another thing that was in abundance on the pier: hope. There was so much hope and expectancy in the people fishing that it was contagious.  No wonder Clarence like to fish here.FullSizeRender (2)

If you want to experience some good fishing and clear your head of worries, I’d recommend a visit to the Surf City Ocean Pier. Oh yeah. Bring your hope with you and if you’re running short of that, you’ll just catch some there along with a lot of fresh air!


The Surf City Ocean Pier is located at:

112 South Shore Drive Surf City, NC 28445

Telephone number: 910-328-3521

Even a Rainy Day on Topsail Island is Magical

by Donna Byrd


I love Wednesdays because that’s my husband’s day off. Usually, in the warmer months, Bill golfs for half of the day at one our beautiful, local golf courses and then spends the rest of his day with me, maintaining the yard, fixing things around the house, visiting places we haven’t been before, walking the beach or (my favorite) shopping.

This past Wednesday, we awakened to a rainy, gray day.  It was obvious that golf was not in the forecast and neither was working in the yard. What could we do on a warm, rainy Wednesday to make it feel special? We took a ride down the beach road and searched for a cozy lunch at a place we’d never been before.

I’ve always loved a rainy day at the beach and when I was growing up and we’d go to the beach on vacation, the week would usually have at least one rainy day. That was the day we doctored our sunburns, read books and magazines, ate at one of our favorite seafood restaurants from the cheaper lunch menu and then explored the local shopping scene.

This Wednesday with Bill felt like one of those days. As soon as the car left the high bridge and began making its way down the beach road, it began to rain in earnest. The windshield wipers were having trouble keeping up with the big drops, but I didn’t care. I loved the sound of the rain hitting the glass and the rhythm of the wipers slapping against the sheet of water. It seemed as if we were in our own world on that deserted beach road, safe and dry while all nature outside was fending for itself in the pouring rain. I know it makes me seem like an odd sort of person, but that feeling makes me feel satisfied and content.


We decided to go to “Daddy Macs” for lunch.  It’s in a wonderful location; right on the ocean looking out over the Surf City Ocean Pier, Topsail Island’s first pier, built in 1948.   I was hoping to get a few good pictures of the pier from the restaurant’s back porch/deck.

The restaurant was casually beautiful! The dining area was surrounded by windows that gave majestic views of ocean waves tipped in foamy white, gray sky, seagulls and nautical birds trying to fly with the wind currents. We saw rain darkened, faded gray planks that made up the pier next door and the fishermen on it, covered in yellow, red and blue rain slickers.

IMG_2444 Although it was gray and misty, it was one of the most beautiful scenes I had witnessed at the beach. There was even a huge, bright, American flag that proudly flew from the pier, brightening up the dreary landscape.  I stepped outside in the rain to take some pictures.

We were seated in a booth by the windows. I had fried flounder, fries and slaw while Bill had one of Daddy Mac’s classic hamburgers. We took our time at the cozy table and watched the ocean swells through the rain splashing down the windows. The staff had some great music playing on a Pandora station. Our food was delicious and so was that “rainy day at the beach” lazy feeling. Ahhh…did I tell you I love the beach in the rain?

We couldn’t sit at the lunch table all afternoon and eventually we paid our bill and left. We met a sweet couple with a few kids outside on the front porch.  They were from Burnsville, North Carolina in Yancey County.  That little town is far away from here, right by the Tennessee border. They love to come to Topsail Beach in October when things aren’t quite as busy. Even they didn’t mind the rain.

We said our goodbyes and ran to our cars, sorry for our Daddy Mac experience to end. I wished the nice couple lived near Topsail. I knew if they did, we might become good friends.

We rode over the swing bridge, leaving the island to go home by way of Highway 17. Stopping at the new Dunkin Donuts on the mainland side, we got a coffee to share and began to make our way back to “The Ferry.” We took a few detours and discovered some roads we had not yet travelled. On a whim, we took a “dead end” that surprised us with its quaint homes and pretty twists and turns. The trees along the road were in full fall color and were swirling in the air with the rain. There was a little white chapel with a steeple and suddenly, the road ended. We could have driven straight off into the Intracoastal Waterway!

Stopping the car, we sat there drinking our coffee,  in our own little dry world, while the rain fell from the gray sky and we watched the dark gray water lap at the grassy shore. Even a rainy day at the beach is magical.  See you soon?

A Topsail Island Tradition Since 1975: Andrews’ Produce in N. Topsail Beach

A Topsail Island Tradition Since 1975

The Andrews’ Produce Stand in N. Topsail Beach

The Andrews sign

For nearly 40 years, the Andrews family has been selling produce and other locally grown goodies at the corner of Island Drive and 2nd Avenue in N. Topsail Beach. It all started around the time that Onslow County native, James Andrews (pictured below), built a beach home on 2nd Ave in N. Topsail Beach back in the 70’s.  Continue reading

Topsail Sea Turtles Return Home

Topsail Island Sea Turtles Return Home

The New Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center is Now Open to the Public!

Arendell & volunteers

What a sight to behold was the recent Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center’s “turtle release” in Surf City, NC! Monday, June 2, 2014, was a beautiful day to attend my first ever “turtle graduation,” as some Sea Turtle Hospital volunteers proudly dubbed the festivities. Additional releases took place Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week.

Honestly, I’m not sure if it was the fact that I am pregnant myself, or if there was more to it than that, but I became quite emotional as I approached the staging area and saw nearly a dozen turtles cradled in the arms of caring volunteers. Each one I approached proudly showed off the turtle (whether small or large) in their care. Continue reading

Topsail’s Latest Attraction: An Alligator’s New Home

New Sneads Ferry Library & Environmental Education Center is now OPEN!OCPL Sign

We are very excited to announce that the new Onslow County Public Library and Environmental Education Center is now open in Sneads Ferry, NC, just minutes from Topsail Island’s beaches!

Saturday, April 5th, marked the Grand Opening of the Environmental Education Center and the “Discover Onslow” Exhibit. Continue reading

Taking the Plunge: Surf City’s Twelfth Annual Dolphin Dip 2014

dolphin dip t-shirt

By Amy Baker

January 3, 2014

Would you take a winter time dip with dolphins on Topsail Island in January?!

Well that is exactly what a few hundred people did on Wednesday, January 1, 2014 in Surf City, NC!

According to WECT News, there were more than 2500 people Continue reading

Visiting the Topsail Area this Holiday Season?

If you are Spending the Holidays on Topsail Island this year or visiting the area…

Don’t miss out on these Good Tidings!

By Amy Baker


Spending Christmas on Topsail Island?

Topsail Island and the surrounding communities are all abuzz as the holidays are fast approaching! If you’re planning to be here for the Holidays, check out what’s happening on and around Topsail Island. If you haven’t made plans yet, we do have some great Christmas specials.

Pic of SC Christmas Tree

Continue reading