Fishing Artificial Reefs

How to fish a "Man Made" Fishing Location

Anchoring on an Artificial Reef

The ideal situation for fishing an artificial reef is to drift or troll over the reef. But, if you are bottom fishing in relatively shallow water (let's say less than 180 feet), then anchoring may be the way to go.
  • Never try to anchor on top of the wreck. Do not drop an anchor right on the wreck unless you plan to leave it on the wreck.
  • Circle to wreck several times and use your depth finder to try and get a feel for where it is exactly, what direction it is facing.
  • Pay attention to the wind and current direction to see which way your boat will drift. Use the tracking or "trails" feature on your GPS to mark you drift. Use this drift direction to determine where to set your anchor.
  • Plan to drop your anchor up current and alongside the wreck. Idle - using those trails - up current past the wreck far enough so that when the anchor sets, your boat will be either just ahead of the wreck or alongside the wreck.
  • If you end up directly over the wreck, you will lose tackle to the wreck on every drop. You want to be fishing as close to the wreck as possible but not on or in the wreck.
It may take several attempts to position the boat exactly where you want it, but this boat placement is important if you want to catch fish and not the bottom! You need a good anchor with a long chain - at least ten feet on a twenty foot boat and plenty of rode (anchor rope). Safe anchoring technique calls for seven times the depth in anchor rode.
Many anglers get by with three times the depth, but in a heavy weather condition, you will be glad you have that seven!

Fishing an Artificial Reef

Artificial reefs attract every type of fish found in the local area, from pelagics, to bottom dwellers; from baitfish to sharks. What you catch sometimes is determined by how you fish!

    Trolling over the reef with artificial baits and spoons will catch those predator fish that usually hang around the water column over the reef or wreck. This includes, but not limited to amberjack, barracuda, dolphin, king mackerel, cobia - just about any fish that is not a bottom dweller.

    • Drifting

    Drifting, with your bait up off the bottom and off the wreck enough to not get hung can catch the same fish, but has the additional advantage of drawing bottom fish up to your bait. Grouper, snapper, and other bottom fish can be caught drifting. Use that trail feature again to make sure you get the same drift every time.

    • Anchoring - Bottom Fishing

    When you anchored the way we previously described, you should be able to drop a bait either right in front of the wreck or right beside the wreck. This can get tricky. Too close, and fish take you into the wreck, or you hang up on the wreck. Too far away, and you lose the bite.

    Artificial reefs, regardless of their makeup are considered structure fishing at its best. The folks who built the reef were kind enough to do that so you can find fish. Its up to you to not only catch the fish, but to act responsibly out there. If you catch fish you don't want, release them unharmed.

    If the water depth is over about 80 feet, plan to vent the fish's swim bladder allowing it to return to the bottom. This is our resource for the future. It's up to us to conserve it for future generations!