The Newport pier located in Sunny Isles Beach, FL (Miami-Dade County) has been finished. The opening ceremony of the new pier was on June 15th. The previous Newport Pier was destroyed by Hurricane Wilma in 2005. The opening of the pier was celebrated on the 15th of June with fireworks dancing and much more, too bad I missed all of it. The fishing pier is said to be more than 700 feet long. The entrance as of now is free until they finish the bait shop and hire somebody which means that the pier will be full most of the time. As with many free fishing piers I am expecting it to be packed with tourists, googans, and some fishermen. I just hope that drunks do not take much part of the fishing pier while it is free. It is very annoying to deal with intoxicated individuals. This pier has gone through so many changes already and I hope this one is for the best. It was burnt down in the early 80’s, then shut down by Hurricanes like Hurricane Andrew several times. But like a phoenix it always finds a way to rise from the ashes and each time a bit different that the last. One thing that hardly ever changes is the old Newport Hotel building behind it and it’s savior most of the time. I wish Haulover Pier had a savior, but no, the city did not want to invest on a new build after Hurricane Andre knocked it down. Sigh, memories of the past I guess. With the newly built pier we will have some more elbow room at other piers, some tackle shops will be enjoying the extra business and some fish will join someones dinner table. I just hope the people fishing this pier while it has no attendants will be honest people and will only take their allowed limits by law. It is a long shot of hope but at least let’s think positive.
This is the pier where I first heard the word Googan, well, Chief Nick or Mike (the pier attendants) stamped it bright red on unknown fishermen’s hands or wrists so that others would know to stay at a distance and avoid a sinkers going the wrong way or a massive tangle from someone casting their lines sideways instead of straight ahead or with the currents direction. This was always a great mackerel and snook pier. Off course other fish like barracudas, king mackerel, snapper, drums, permit, grunts, bluefish, bonitos, blue runners, sharks, tarpon, etc… would be caught, but it was always known for the great mackerel runs and the snook coming out to the beaches to mate in the summer months and to catch the warmth of the lights in the winter months. Back in the day before the beach re nourishment the pier sat at a good depth and there were reef lines where the snappers congregated, not much grouper other than the normal giant Jewfish from those days would come around. After the re nourishment those formations were complete covered with sand and so the snapper fishing became a slow one with the exception of the stormy days when the snappers would get very close to the pier after a storm passed through the area.
Long live the past days when a cork and a strip of belly bait was let into the currents to catch the all mighty running demon of the piers, when the salty dogs ruled the artificial lures on the beaches, mangrove lines, bridges, and piers. long live the days when a McDonald’s straw, a 1/4 ounce weight, and a long shank hook was a perfect lure to catch a pier demon runner, when a bass worm hook was heavily used to free line a sardine belly strip, when a piece of broom stick and a treble hook were good enough to catch a blue fish. Well enough of the past. Let’s talk about the present.
This new pier seems to be built like the Titanic, but instead of metal it is a great looking solid concrete construction. I am no engineer but can tell you that I did not see room for water to flow through the middle of the pier in case of a big surge. In other words if we get a hurricane and big water surges upwards, it will be slamming against the belly of the pier like a hammer trying to punch a nail from under a plank. I did see a hump on the middle of the pier where water can be guided by the contour of the pier’s belly. I hope these engineers/architects did it right. Another thing I noticed was the railings. They added wheelchair access through the whole pier’s fishing area. These will also be great for kids as you can lower a section of the railing. I do not know how long these will last since corrosion is already present on most of the hinges. And yes I did write fishing area, you can only fish from a painted yellow line in mid pier to the pier’s T shape end. I was told that when the police came in to patrol the area a day before me writing this report they told a fisherman who was bringing in a barracuda to cut the line off with the fish on and to move to the other side of the yellow line afterwards. I really never understood why police and wildlife officers tell that to people. I don’t think they should, just let the person bring the fish in and then give them a ticket when they have landed it. Please don’t tell them to cut the line off and leave a fish with 50 or 100 feet of mono- filament line hanging on it’s mouth. the bait and fish cleaning tables look of professional grade. They also have water hoses through out the pier. The old bait wells were not replaced so you will have to take a drop down bucket with you if you do not intend on having a bucket or live well with an air pump or a live well pump. Another thing that was unusual for a pier here in South Florida is that they decided to built fishing rod holders on the railings. these look great as a rod holder and look like aluminum bars covered with PVC pipes and then painted, at least I hope that’s how they were built. I would not trust PVC pipes alone to do the job. There are some nice size tarpons that will frequent that pier and they will make a big enough run to brake a PVC pipe, and especially one that is used over and over as a rod holder.
On to the fishing, the day I went there were no signs of bait and so you know when there is no bait there are not many predators close by. Since this is a standing structure you do get the occasional predator that comes close by and investigates. I threw a few casts with ghost x raps, white buck tails, side winders, and crappie jigs to get a mack’s or blue runners attention since these were the fish that had been caught the prior day. I had a mack follow up the side winder and one sky rocket through the air as well. The ghost x rap lure got a follow up and a baby blue runner that I donated for bait. I was only there for a couple of hours since I just wanted to see the pier.
Here are some pictures of the Newport Pier for you to enjoy. just hoover over with your mouse pointer to see a description.
Below are two pictures of what it looked like in 2006
Here is a site with a live cam, sometimes pointed towards the pier: http://www.sunnyislesbeachcam.com/