Wednesday, May 30, 2012

World Record Bluefish: North Carolina Outer Banks Piers: Gone, Still Standing

In 2005 and 2006 we fished off the Hatteras Pier, photographed 2010. So many coastal storms afflict North Carolina's Outer Banks; we have no idea which finally took out these long standing planks. But we're glad we stopped to have a look before we first arrived in Ocracoke that year. We were prepared to drive all the way to Avon, having taken the last ferry from Ocracoke at midnight and trying to sleep in the car in the lot, my son and I, as mosquitos came in when I had to lower windows when our breath got short and woke us up. Never knew before that it at least seems that you can use up oxygen sleeping in a car.

Kittyhawk Pier, familiar to me from age 8 and fished my last in 1996 at 35, seemed to me as if it would always be there. A one time world record bluefish was caught from that pier, and I guess nothing more symbolized the Outer Banks to me because that trip with my dad in 1969 was so successful. I still remember the old sportsman running the facilities when we were fished that day. He seemed the kindest old man I'd ever met, and in a way the most informed too. He said maybe a dozen words to us, but children are like this. Reasoning very little, they can see an entire sea of wisdom in a man they encounter for a minute, and have this memory last the rest of their lives as if it is present every time recalled. Well, at least I did.

That sportsman, if I recall rightly and I seem to, was the man who caught that record blue. But that's not what impressed me. And he was absolutely soft spoken about that, "I caught it," was all he said, quietly, completely matter-of-fact, when I asked about it looking at the photograph.

I was surprised when I learned in 2005 that no plans existed to rebuild Kitty Hawk Pier. Of course not, economically. But something in me has always resisted accepting the fact, and by my account of the story, I think you can understand.

The novelist Franz Kafka asserted against apparent reason that we live in a spiritual world. Sometimes he seems right. At least the old man on the pier still seems to be there and by all appearances some modern motel or other is in its place now.

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