FT. MORGAN, Ala. (WBRC) – For the first time in nearly eight years, anglers should once again have access to big game fishing at the lower end of Mobile Bay this spring when the new and improved Fort Morgan pier opens.
The renovated jetty will have L-shaped dimensions of 305 feet by 210 feet and 40 feet wide. The pier floor will be 8 feet above the water surface at mid tide.
Actual construction of the pier began in July 2020, Alabama Division of Marine Resources Director Scott Bannon said, but various situations have caused delays. “We immediately encountered delays due to Covid,” Bannon said. “The purchase of the sheet pile was delayed for several months. Then Hurricane Sally arrived and delayed construction. Additionally, labor shortages have been very difficult for the general contractor as well as the sub-contractors. But I think we are on the wrong side. We expect completion in early March.
The original pier was built with timber girders and held up considerably well throughout its 40-year lifespan, but the double whammy of Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005 wreaked havoc.
“It had practically become unsafe and had to be shut down in 2014,” Bannon said. “The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) and the Alabama Historical Commission worked together to seek funding from Deepwater Horizon settlement money through the NRDA (Navigation Damage Assessment). natural resources).”
The total cost of designing, building and monitoring the new pier was $3.2 million. ADCNR Commissioner Chris Blankenship said the reopening of Fort Morgan Pier will fill a missing portion of outdoor recreation on the Fort Morgan Peninsula.
“I am pleased that the renovation of the Fort Morgan pier is nearing completion,” Commissioner Blankenship said. “This project took a long time to come. As Senior Administrator of the Alabama NRDA, it was important to us at the ADCNR to bring this once popular public access site back into service after many years of closure due to damage from the storms and years spent in the harsh coastal elements. It is rebuilt in a way that should stand the test of time and storms.
Bannon said the upgraded Fort Morgan jetty will serve two purposes by providing a fishing spot and acting as a breakwater 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 that we encounter here on the Alabama coast,” Bannon said. “There will be a much better parking area for all anglers. We are also planning to improve the boat ramp parking lot. The new pier is not just a fishing pier; it also ensures the protection of the basin and the ramp of the boat.
The good news for anglers is that they will soon have access to the abundant inshore species that call the mouth of Mobile Bay home, including red drum (rockfish), speckled trout and plaice.
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 that’s going to really help,” Thornton said. “This is something that has been missing for several years. In summer and fall, it is a good place for plaice. And people should catch lots of white trout and ground mullet and quite a few rockfish. It’s really nice, it comes back into play.”
“For this population that didn’t have access to water, I think it will soon become another destination, much like the pier in Gulf State Park. Years ago when I was on patrol, I would recognize the same people who were fishing off the pier,” Bannon said. “It’s going to be fun to go back and see those people enjoying the fishing.”
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