There are many spots throughout coastal Louisiana where charters can go searching for Redfish. If they’re staying around inshore waters because the open Gulf is a little rough, Redfish can be found around grassy areas near the shoreline.
If charters are offshore looking for more mature Redfish, they may be found around rocky outcroppings (i.e. a jetty) and around other reefs, both natural and manmade. Most of the ocean bottom around south Terrebonne Louisiana consists of sand. Large oyster beds are the most common natural reefs found in this area.
In order to help bolster fish populations along the Gulf coast, all 5 states have their own Artificial Reef Program. According to William Seaman, Jr. and the National Wildlife Federation, an artificial reef can be defined as “one or more objects of natural or human origin deployed purposefully on the sea floor to influence physical, biological or socioeconomic processes related to living marine resources.”
Continue reading to learn more about artificial reefs and how they help provide habitat for Redfish in south Louisiana and other Gulf coast states.
How does an artificial reef help provide habitat for Redfish?
When an artificial reef is established, it takes a little time for it to become a draw for Redfish, Trout, Snapper and other popular gamefish.
After a reef is established, encrusting organisms like coral and sponge will attach and cover the reef’s material.
Next, this will attract shrimp, pinfish and other small baits to feed on the organisms stuck to the concrete, vessel or structure beneath the water’s surface.
As you can imagine, once a reef has an abundant supply of food for Redfish and other species, they will begin feeding in the area.
Once larger gamefish are attracted and begin feeding in the area, a complete reef food web is established. Energy from this food web then provides potential for further biological growth and additional protective habitat. Some scientists believe artificial reefs are as rich as their natural counterparts. On the other hand, others believe these reefs simply attract fish from surrounding natural habitats and form a more dense aggregation of fish.
What is an artificial reef made of?
Artificial reefs can be made from a wide variety of materials, some of which are relatively simple while others are more complex. Although artificial reefs are only sanctioned by state and federal agencies, many individuals create their own reefs.
Materials for an artificial reef can include:
- Concrete blocks or debris – One artificial reef in Lake Pontchartrain to the north contains concrete spans from a decommissioned bridge on I-10 for example.
- Other construction debris
- Old oil rigs and platforms – These are especially popular in Louisiana. Not all obsolete oil rigs are turned into reefs since federal law requires them to be dismantled. However, the Louisiana Artificial Reef Program has been able to use the platform jackets of obsolete rigs to create over 320 reefs off Louisiana’s coast.
- Sunken ships – Another type of artificial reef are sunken ships, either intentionally or by accident. Many of these vessels are decommissioned military ships like the USS Oriskany off the Florida Panhandle.
- Special burial grounds – Some artificial reef habitats are simply urns containing cremated human remains. This is becoming an increasingly popular burial option due to its low cost and minimal environmental impact.
- Limestone – Many natural reefs in Louisiana are oyster beds. Over time though, some of these beds have become submerged due to erosion and storms. Limestone is brought in to some of these spots to rebuild some of these oyster bed reefs. Independence Island near Grand Isle, Louisiana is one example. Over 8,000 tons of limestone was brought in to rebuild the reefs damaged by erosion.
These are just a few examples of the types of material you can expect to see on an artificial reef in Louisiana and throughout the Gulf coast.
Who is responsible for developing artificial reefs for Redfish within Louisiana’s inshore waters?
All states along the Gulf coast have an artificial reef program. Louisiana’s was established in 1986 to initially make use of the many abandoned oil and gas platforms off the coast. Louisiana’s artificial reef program is responsible for building the world’s largest artificial reef in 1999. The abandoned sulfur mine near Grand Isle has more than 29 structures and 1.5 miles of bridgework.
For inshore areas that serve as ideal habitat for Redfish, the state’s program has created more than 30 reefs throughout Louisiana’s coastal parishes (i.e. Terrabonne, Timbalier, Barataria, Pontchartrain, etc.).
Check out this video from the Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana discussing construction of this artificial reef near Cocodrie.
Redfish fishing charters in Louisiana often times go to one of many artificial reefs found either in the bays and bayous or just offshore. Capt. Rob Dupont of Impulse Fishing Charters near Cocodrie, Louisiana has decades of experience finding Redfish either in the grassy flats or around one of dozens artificial reefs in the lower Terrebonne region. Click here to learn more about Louisiana redfish fishing charters, or visit the reservations page to see if you’re preferred date is available!
Featured image courtesy of Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries