September 5, 2019

Look For This Important Feature When Fishing Oyster Reefs In Louisiana


Oyster reefs are productive for inshore fishing, until you realize there's a lot of them! Look for this painfully obvious feature to identify the best one.


Which Oyster Reefs Are Best To Fish?

If you've ever fished the bays and lagoons on Louisiana's coast, then you've seen all the oyster reefs created by commercial fishermen.

oyster PVC poles

They make for excellent fishing and can become so packed with speckled trout that oyster dredges accidentally spear them!

oyster dredge spears speckled trout

They're practically everywhere, making it easy to become frustrated when someone says "just fish the oyster beds".

So which oyster reefs are the best?

The answer: the ones with lots of PVC poles everywhere.

Why You Want All The PVC Poles

As explained in this blog post, those poles are used to mark leases in which oystermen seed and harvest oysters for consumption.

But it's not so simple: they share that water with everyone else, to include shrimpers.

How Shrimping Can Be Bad News For Fishing Oyster Reefs

In a nutshell, nets from shrimp boats drag on the bottom, disturbing the reef.

This can damage oysters, so oystermen have an incentive to keep shrimp boats out.

The solution? Put out so many PVC poles it'd be a nightmare for anyone to deploy their nets there.

best oyster reef

Adding a sign making it perfectly clear doesn't hurt, either.

no trawling oyster reef sign
The Benefit To Inshore Anglers

We inshore anglers benefit from this conflict in a couple ways:

1. Water Stays Clean

Water clarity takes a dump when shrimp boats drag their nets on the bottom.

shrimp boat google earth 1

So, if you remember The Big Three, then you know fish won't stick around in dirty water, not if there's better places for them to be (and there almost always is).

But, without shrimping activity in the immediate area, the water remains clean and a good choice to target speckled trout, redfish, sheepshead or whatever you are targeting.

2. The Reef Goes Undisturbed

Do you live in a home occasionally visited by a wrecking ball?

No? Neither do fish!

"Honey, this living room is absolutely smashing!"

Shrimp Remain In The Area

Why would fish remain in an area with fewer feeding opportunities than anywhere else?

It makes sense that as more shrimp are removed, fewer feeding opportunities will be present.

So why stick around?

The One Thing To Look Out For

All of this is a moot point if an oyster boat is actively dredging the lease.

oyster boat google earth

Kiss that spot goodbye!

Come back some other time, and hopefully you've found more oyster reefs to wet a line.

This blog post gives some useful pointers, but watching how I plan fishing trips (to oyster reefs and other hot spots) is a great insight, too!

Captain Devin

About the Author

Devin is a former fishing guide and lifelong inshore angler. He founded Louisiana Fishing Blog in 2012 to share his ideas as a charter captain and still writes in it today. Since then he's created a fishing university — LAFB Elite — where he teaches inshore anglers how to safely navigate Louisiana's coast and catch more fish.

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