Ocracoke waterman Julius “Jules” Bryant (1921-1994), brother of Muzel Bryant (1904-2008), is pictured here with a 21-pound flounder he gigged. Photo courtesy of Tradewinds Tackle collection

By Connie Leinbach

The Ocracoke Preservation Society is in the process of digitizing hundreds of photos of people, both locals and visitors, with their fish.

Melinda Sutton, co-owner with her husband Alan of Tradewinds Tackle, said she recently donated about twenty books of photos of people with the fish they have caught dating back to the 1970s.

The print photos are in binders that go to 2014, she said, after which time Tradewinds and the people themselves started taking digital photos and posting them on the Tradewinds website and Facebook pages.

These old photos are something people like to pour over.

“It’s people’s whole families and a lot of people come in and they’re like, there’s me and dad, and now they’re sitting there with their kids,” she said. “It goes back generations.”

Prior owners Bob and Nancy Sebrell started taking photos of the customers.

“Nancy was really good about the whole internet thing,” Sutton said. “She put Tradewinds on the internet right away and the reason she got people to read anything about fishing was because she put the pictures on there.”

Then Melinda and Alan kept up the tradition when they bought the business in 1998. There are a tremendous number of pictures, Sutton said, including a lot of local people in it from when they were young.

One great find was of islander Jules Bryant with a 21-pound flounder.

“That one is just so special just because there’s not a lot of pictures of him,” Sutton said.

The books survived Dorian floodwaters in September 2019 and are now a project for Samantha Sutton, Melinda’s daughter, who is working at the OPS for the summer, and Andrea Powers, OPS administrator.

Powers said they will retain the books and once all the photos are digitized, they hope to categorize them with QR codes to make them easier for people to find.

Back when he was an NPS ranger, islander Kenny Ballance found this deceased alligator along South Point Road after a hurricane.

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