Nags Head Fishing Pier
Nags Head Pier is open from Easter through Thanksgiving, and stays open all day and night from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The tackle shop has everything you need, from bait to rod and reel rentals, to snacks and drinks after a long day of fishing. Off the tackle shop is the highly regarded Pierhouse Restaurant, which serves up delicious meals from breakfast through dinner, as well as live music on summer evenings. Best of all, they will cook your cleaned catch of the day with fries, slaw and hush puppies!
Guests can purchase daily, 3-day, weekly or annual passes, and kids under 12 are half price.
The Story of Nags Head Pier
Built in 1947, the Nags Head Pier is the second oldest pier in the Outer Banks. It was constructed the same year that the first Outer Banks pier, Jennette’s, was being rebuilt. Ocean Shores Recreation Center, a skating rink, was part of the original pier and was attached to the pier house. It was a popular place with the locals who referred to it as “the rec center” but is no longer there.
When the original owner passed away in the early sixties, David and Rita Mizelle purchased the Nags Head Fishing Pier just before the Ash Wednesday Storm reduced it to 15 pilings. They rebuilt the pier and later sold it to Joe Justice. It was the Joe Justice Pier until Andy and Lovie McCann bought the pier in 1985. A low-key electric sign now announces this location as “Nags Head Fishing Pier and Pier House Restaurant”.
The weathered gray pier house sits past a large two-story building which is one of 7 rental units offered by the pier. In a well groomed grassy area to the left are picnic tables with umbrellas, corn hole games and bike racks. Newspaper and magazine racks, a foot washing hose, a rusty scale and ice machine are lined up as you enter the hustle and bustle of the pier and a welcoming entrance sign says “The happiest people in the world walk through these doors”.
Nags Head Fishing Pier has a neat, clean and well-appointed bait and tackle shop with racks of fishing poles, hats, gifts, raincoats, sunglasses, snacks and coolers of soft drinks and ice cream. There is also a small game room just inside the entrance. It is busy here but you get good, friendly service with bait, tackle, equipment rental and purchase, fishing tips, tide charts and pier pass purchases. Expert fishing advice on how to hook the many in-shore fish is always available. No doubt Richard will have lighthearted tales about the fish that aren’t getting away as well as the most recent one about the humpback whale who sided up to the end of the pier to entertain everyone for an hour before heading back to sea.
Like all piers, Nags Head Fishing Pier has its local regulars and those from out of town. Some fishermen visit several times every week and have been coming to this pier since before Andy and Lovie bought it. It is easy to see why. This 1000 ft. pier is well maintained, has four fish cleaning stations and many high backed wooden benches with top ledges for cutting bait. One really nice feature is the fresh water spigots located on each side of the pier all the way to the end where it forks into a broad y-shape. Here, the area is clearly marked for the king rigs, jigging and blue casting in the 25 ft water. There’s plenty of room here also with a fish cleaning station, picnic table with umbrella and benches in the center.
After the Ash Wednesday storm, Hurricanes Gloria, Bob and Dennis again damaged this pier but the Halloween Storm in the 90’s really created a nightmare for the McCanns. It took floors out from the building and put holes in the pier. Once again, the pier was repaired and then in 2003, Hurricane Isabel blew the roof into the parking lot and took out dining and storage areas. You’d never know it because today the pier stands straight and is in better shape than before the storms.
When fishermen take a break it’s usually for a hot cup of coffee or a cold beer and a quick sandwich. The Pier House Restaurant at Nags Head Fishing Pier offers all those as well as full meals. With a cheerful staff and great food, this is a favorite with take-out and dine in customers. Warm wood details in the oceanfront dining room, bar and enclosed porch take you back in time to Old Nags Head. Or you can dine outside under an umbrella while seated comfortably in a bright Adirondack chair. From 4 to 7 on Friday and Sunday, you’ll be treated with live music while you dine. Opening at 7 am and serving until 9 pm, the Pier House Restaurant serves a full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu of good North Carolina cooking; has all ABC beverage permits, and, if your catch is over 10 ounces they offer a “you hook ‘em we cook ‘em” special. You get a complimentary pier pass with each meal, so when you are finished, you can go fishing or stroll down the pier and see what’s biting!
Nags Head Fishing Pier and Pier House Restaurant are centrally located in the middle of Nags Head. One visit and like the many varieties of fish that swim by the pier there is a chance you’ll get hooked!