October 25

How I Find Oyster Reefs To Catch Speckled Trout

Keys To Catching Fish


We all know oyster reefs make for great fishing, but how do we find them? I show you how I find oyster reefs, both marked and unmarked.

Fishing oyster reefs is a common tactic amongst Louisiana’s inshore anglers. Once you find one that continually produces fish, you have a honey hole for life! (forces of nature and man withstanding)

But that’s easier said than done.

So what makes oyster reefs so great? And how do we locate oyster reefs that hold fish?

Find Oyster Reefs

The key to locating oyster reefs is understanding oysters, specifically these two things:

  • oysters don’t like completely fresh water
  • oysters are filter feeders

No freshwater…

Given that information, we know we should not begin looking for areas directly affected by the Mississippi River. The water is simply too fresh for oysters.

And if it’s too fresh for oysters, then it is definitely too fresh for speckled trout, though trout do well in near-fresh water.

So, anywhere there is saltwater there are likely to be oysters, but it’s important to point out that the best oyster reefs are in brackish areas.

Oysters love filtering water

Oysters feed by opening their shells and filtering water that passes through.

This means they grow best in areas with good water movement and plenty of organic detritus, a fancy $10 word describing organic matter (or crap).

Given our understanding of these two things, we can begin to find oyster reefs in places with plenty of moving water and organic matter to feed them.

This equates to areas with good tide and brackish water, especially brackish water mixed with river water.

Bodies of water with good tidelines are what I target. I don’t really focus on salinity levels. I just need to see that the area isn’t covered in river water.

Where do we find oyster reefs?

That’s a good question, one that is explained much better in the video below.

Important Note

This video on how to find oyster reefs is part of the "Find the Best Fishing Spots Using Google Earth" section of Inshore Fishing 101.

That section contains 22 videos detailing how I find great fishing spots ranging from ledges, to oyster reefs, deep holes and more.

One Last Resource

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has this cool interactive map that helps you find oyster leases and such.

Check it out.

Questions? Comments?

Chime in below!

about the author 

Devin Denman

Devin is the founder of Louisiana Fishing Blog and enjoys exploring new fishing spots on Louisiana's coast. He prefers using artificial lures and casting tackle, but won't hesitate to break out a popping cork when the time is right.

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  • Hey Peter, I’m glad you commented as there are a few points to cover here.

    First off, I understand why you moved to Shell Beach (and by that I assume your boat slip), and you’re right: the move puts you that much closer to higher salinity water.

    Hydrocoast’s salinity map for June 2019 makes that obvious: http://bit.ly/2XNncDv

    But is it enough salinity? No.

    Speckled trout need at least 15-17ppt salt to spawn, and those bodies of water you mentioned are right on the fringe of it.

    So it doesn’t matter if you have the world’s most awesome oyster reef ever, if it’s not near where they are spawning then it’s not surprising that they wouldn’t be there.

    I know there are a lot of PVC markers around Lake Eloi, but that’s no guarantee of there being oysters, either.

    I’m not familiar with the standard operating procedure of every single oyster boat out there, but I can tell you they reason they put up so many PVC pipes isn’t just to mark leases, or where cultch is dumped, but mostly to keep shrimp boats out.

    Shrimp boats can damage oysters, ruining the harvest.

    That’s all I got for you as far as PVC pipe/reef orientation goes.

    It’s besides the point anyway, because if you’re using the Elements of Effective Fishing you’d roll right through unproductive water.

    Like I said, just because there are oysters is no guarantee that fish are there. There needs to be an established reef holding bait.

    No bait = no trout.

    So, if you see a lease being dredged on a regular basis then chances are no bait lives there, because their would-be home gets a wrecking ball (aka oyster dredge) dragged through it every now and then.

    I’d only need one wrecking ball to swing through my living room to never live in that house again.

    Makes sense, right?

    As for your depthfinder (I call it a “graph”), what kind of sonar are you using?

    You could be looking right at oysters and not know it if you don’t know what you are looking for.

    Thanks, Peter. Look forward to hearing from you!

  • Devin, great article! I recently moved to Shell Beach from Delacroix in search of saltier water and a better trout bite. I knew plenty reefs in Delacroix area, but not much in SB. I’ve been focusing around Eloi, Christmas Camp, etc. without success (I keep having to run out to Gosier area to find my fish). When looking for reefs, I pull into a area laden with PVC pipes and watch the depth finder closely, but I’m not just not finding them. Have you found a pattern that oyster fisherman use in locating their reefs in relation to a PVC marked area? For instance, do you find they locate reefs near the PVCs, in the center of the marked area, etc.? Or does it vary depending on the oyster fisherman? Found your video very helpful, thanks!

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