Waiting for spring

Absolutely Alabama.
Absolutely Alabama.(Source: Mike Badonsky)
Published: Jan. 31, 2022 at 12:26 PM CST
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FT. MORGAN, Ala. (WBRC) - For the first time in almost eight years, onshore anglers should again have access to the great fishing on the lower end of Mobile Bay this spring when the new and improved Fort Morgan Pier opens.

The renovated pier will be L-shaped dimensions of 305 feet by 210 feet and 40 feet wide. The pier floor will be 8 feet off the surface of the water at mean tide.

Actual construction on the pier started in July 2020, said Alabama Marine Resources Division Director Scott Bannon, but a variety of situations caused delays. “We immediately ran into delays due to Covid,” Bannon said. “The purchasing of the sheet pile was delayed several months. Then Hurricane Sally came in and delayed construction. Additionally, labor shortages have been very challenging for the general contractor as well as subcontractors. But I think we’re on the downhill side. We anticipate an early March completion.”

Absolutely Alabama.
Absolutely Alabama.(Source: David Rainer, Outdoor Alabama)

The original pier was built with timbers and held up considerably well through its 40-year lifespan, but the double whammy of Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005 took its toll.

“It was pretty much rendered unsafe and had to be closed in 2014,” Bannon said. “The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) and the Alabama Historical Commission worked together to pursue funding from the Deepwater Horizon settlement money through NRDA (Natural Resource Damage Assessment).”

The total cost of design, construction and oversight of the new pier was $3.2 million. ADCNR Commissioner Chris Blankenship said the reopening of the Fort Morgan Pier will fill a missing piece of outdoors recreation on the Fort Morgan peninsula.

“I am glad that the Fort Morgan Pier renovation is nearing completion,” Commissioner Blankenship said. “This project has been a long time coming. As Alabama’s Lead NRDA Trustee, it was important for us at ADCNR to get this once popular public access site back in operation after many years of it being shut down due to damage from storms and the years of being in the harsh coastal elements. It is being reconstructed in a way that should withstand the test of time and storms.”

Bannon said the upgraded Fort Morgan Pier will serve dual purposes by providing a fishing venue and serving as a seawall for the adjacent boat ramp and basin.

“We worked very hard to develop a design that we felt would withstand the majority of weather anomalies and hurricanes we experience here on the Alabama coast,” Bannon said. “It will have a much better parking area for all the anglers. We plan to improve the boat ramp parking as well. The new pier is not only a fishing pier; it also provides protection for the boat basin and ramp.”

Absolutely Alabama.
Absolutely Alabama.(Source: David Rainer, Outdoor Alabama)

The good news for anglers is they will soon have access to the abundant inshore species that inhabit the mouth of Mobile Bay, including red drum (redfish), speckled trout and flounder.

David Thornton, known as Pier Pounder on social media, is a dedicated pier and surf fisherman on the Alabama Gulf Coast and celebrates the reopening of the Fort Morgan Pier. He says, “I think it’s really going to help,” Thornton said. “It’s an element that has been missing for several years. In the summer and fall, it’s a good flounder spot. And people should catch lots of white trout and ground mullet and quite a few redfish. It’s really neat it’s coming back into play.”

“For that population that didn’t have access to the water, I think this will soon become another destination spot much like the Gulf State Park Pier. Years ago, when I was on patrol, I would recognize the same people fishing on the pier,” Bannon said. “It’s going to be nice to go by again and see those folks enjoying fishing.”

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