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“Back then, everybody who fished joined the club,” says Kit Taylor, who became a member in the ’60s when he was 16 and is now the defunct organization’s unofficial historian. “The dues were only $2 at the beginning, and they had monthly contests with prizes.” Woodrow Wilson was president and Babe Ruth had just hit his first home run when the club came into being. It was a time before fish-ing rods and reels were in common use, when only a handful of boats could be found, and before cars cluttered the roads. “When the club started, the men fished with hand lines. They’d have a weighted line with bait and throw it into the surf. They’d unwrap it from a wooden spool, and the line was cotton back then,” Taylor says. “Getting enough bait was the hardest part of fishing back in the day. They had to use a hand-sewn net to catch the bait.” Even in the early years, the club attracted atten-tion beyond the Cape Fear region. It earned a men-tion in the book “The American Angler, Volume 2,” published in 1917, in a chapter on surf casting: “Many of the anglers around Wilmington average around 175 to 200 feet while fishing, and do better under tournament conditions. During the annual casting tournament of the New Hanover Fishing Club, held at Wrightsville Beach, the record cast was nearly 250 feet, and this made despite adverse wind conditions.” In 1916, fishermen dressed more formally and used equipment that is primitive by today’s standards, but they landed large fish. The Luna Pier (also known as the Mira Mar Pier, now the Crystal Pier) at Wrightsville Beach, seen here in the 1949 annual, was a popular fishing spot. A photo from the 1949 annual captures surf fishing. The few boats took club members to the best fishing spots, whether trolling on the ocean, as seen in the 1950 annual, or at the lake, in this photo from the 1972 annual. 46 WBM june 2016


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