By Captain Scott “Fraz” Murie
There are many similarities between farming and fishing. A farmer has to plow his field and plant his crop. Then, after a while, it’s harvest time. In the fishing business, if you’re willing to do the work, it’s a lot like farming. This is especially true when it comes to creating and deploying artificial reefs.
Reef building is rewarding but requires much red tape. All of the permitting and inspections can be very frustrating. In our area of the Northern Gulf, the spring season brings the migration of cobia in large numbers. By making your own fishing spots you can significantly increase your chances of catching these fish. We use FADS, or fish-attracting-devices (which are simply underwater kites), to congregate the fish as they pass through.
We place them just under the surface in a safe zone where no boats can hit them. They attract and hold large amounts of bait. This in turn, attracts larger fish. The FADS also work well in deep water (several hundred fathoms) for the purposes of catching wahoo, marlin, dolphin and live bait. We are in the process now of building some large reefs, which will be homes for grouper, snapper and amberjack.
We’re building them out of concrete drums and commercial grade chicken coops. It’s a ton of work but the harvest is worth it. Unfortunately, it’s not all fun and games. The hurricanes have
destroyed, buried, and moved our artificial reefs in the shallow water, forcing us to start all over again. Another frustrating situation is when you see a boat sitting right on top of your reef,
catching the fish that you worked so hard to harvest.
After all, you hauled the reef out there and you bore all the expenses. But in reality, it’s all fair game and there’s nothing you can do about it. With today’s electronics, you can’t let other boats get too close to a reef you’re fishing, or they can what we call, “zap you,” when they use their electronics to get your exact coordinates. Even still, all the work and frustration are worth knowing where you’re going instead of hoping and poking.
The reward of building your own reefs is a great harvest from the sea. So, get out there, plow the field, plant the seed and get ready for the harvest.
– That’s my two-minute warning. Fraz