Fishing & Fellowship

by Mar 25, 2024Kids, Southport Oak Island

For 53 years Brunswick County Fishing Club has been central to the Sunset Harbor community, providing a place to honor the past and connect current residents and visitors.

When you turn off Highway 211 toward the confluence of the Intracoastal Waterway and Lockwood Folly River, life seems to get slower with each mile you meander. Eventually you pass May Way Corner Stop, where you can catch a local picking up bait, grabbing a snack or enjoying some hand-scooped ice cream. And finally you reach Sunset Harbor with its slow speed limit, abundance of golf carts and wide views of Sheep Island and Lockwood Folly.

First developed in the years after World War II, Sunset Harbor (previously called Howe’s Point) has always been a quiet area with a mix of full-time and part-time residents. It has always been synonymous with fishing (and bootlegging and farming, but those are stories for a different day).

Looking over the water at the Harbor sits the hub of the community and home of the Brunswick County Fishing Club. This humble white building is a place of fellowship, fishermen and family. Founded in 1971 as a nonprofit, the Brunswick County Fishing Club aims to encourage fellowship amongst its members and local community; promote legislation that protects and conserves local fisheries; and educate members and the community to promote fishing and better stewardship of our natural resources.

Fishing Club Brunswick NC

President Andrew Imes and 12 board members follow a long line of dedicated volunteers who desire to honor the traditions of the 53-year-old club while also bringing new ideas to engage its members and
community and to pass on the love of fishing.

A lifelong fisherman, Imes moved to the area in 2012 after many years of visiting his parents’ house in the Harbor.

“I really believe our club is so important in our community,” Imes says. “We love to honor the past and are always trying to host new events and chances to connect.”

Matt and Christy Comer, vice president and secretary of the club, have had family in the Harbor since the ’80s and share the same sentiments as Imes.

“The Fishing Club is the cornerstone of the Sunset Harbor community,” Christy Comer says. “We love seeing traditions continue. There are many generational families like ours who have been here for decades. We hope we are giving the next generation wonderful memories that they too will carry on into the future.”

One of the ways the club honored the past last year was by hosting local historian Gwen Clemmons Causey, who shared a highly praised presentation of Sunset Harbor’s rich history. Board members aim to host more educational seminars like this in the future as well as continue the long-held traditions of fishing tournaments throughout the year such as the Little Mack a Whack in May and the Speck- Tacular in December.

Arguably the Fishing Club’s most beloved event of the year is the Youth Fishing Tournament. This annual event is made possible by the club’s longstanding partnership with BEMC (and other local supporters). Scheduled for June 28 through 30 in 2024, the tournament is for children ages 6 to 15 and is capped at 40 participants. Registrants will receive a free fishing rod and a chance to compete for the longest fish of any species caught by rod and reel.

Brunswick NC Fishing Club

Sunset Harbor area residents Dominic and Megan Ayala love that their four children — Dominic, 12, Asa, 11, Gabe, 11, and Zoey, 5 — get to participate in the Fishing Tournament each summer. And it is very apparent that the children love it too as they talk over each other to describe the event: “It’s an amazing day full of fishing! Yes, we love all the wonderful prizes. We’ve caught so many different kinds of fish. We
all get to take pictures with our fish, too! We get to spend the day with our friends and cheer for each other whenever anybody catches something. Why do we love the tournament? Because it’s FISHING – what’s not awesome about that?!”

The Fishing Club board loves to see young people enjoy the great outdoors and the simple pleasures of fishing.

“It truly is amazing to see the kids get so excited about something I’ve had a lifelong passion for,” Imes says. “It’s so great to be able to pass on the love of fishing to the next generation.”

Bringing lots of energy to the Fishing Club board and community are Jeremia and Elly Sorensen. In 2021 the couple and their two children left their 26-acre farm in Wisconsin and made the 1,200-mile trek to the Sunset Harbor area, where the Fishing Club quickly became a favorite family gathering place.

Fishing Club Kids Brunswick NC

“We love all the events at the fishing club and the sense of community here,” Elly Sorensen says. “From the chili cook-off, Bingo nights, fishing tournaments, this community really has the sweetest spirit about it, and we feel so thankful to be here.”

Soon after connecting with the club, the Sorensens were charged with leading the club’s traditional Bingo nights. With the help of the Ayala family and outstanding board members, they have livened up this tradition and made great family memories together.

“I love our Bingo nights and that it’s a fun, safe place for the whole family,” Sorensen says. “The public is welcome, and we hope more families will come. Each one of us (on the board) has a role to make this event happen, and we could not do it without the help of our amazing club treasurer, Ernie Oppenheimer.”

Kids Fishing Club Brunswick Co NC

The newest addition to the club’s event calendar is Sunset Harbor’s 4th of July celebration.

The Fishing Club has recently taken over hosting this annual event that is open to the public and features a golf cart parade, corn hole tournament and hot dog sale.

Though its events have changed over the years, Brunswick County Fishing Club remains a community connection point and contributor to family fun for multiple generations on and off the water. Along with all the events it hosts that are open to the public, the club is responsible for the double boat ramp at the harbor, which was installed in 1985 and has been providing thousands of people enjoyment on the water ever since.

Want to join?
Brunswick County Fishing Club
3911 Hickory View Drive Sunset Harbor

Photography by Casey Lauren Townsend