Inshore interactive reef map

The interactive map contains information you may find helpful to plan your Alabama inshore fishing fishing trips.  The interactive map contains links to side-scan mosaics of each reef so anglers can focus their efforts in areas within each reef where the greatest concentration of material is located.  It also contains a table that provides the year the reef was initially constructed, enhancement date, if any, and the type(s) of materials used to construct each reef.  Click here or on the image to use the interactive inshore reef map.

Inshore Reef Coordinates (Current as of March 15, 2017) – To properly download files, right click the link and select “Save”

The Alabama Marine Resources Division (AMRD) creates hard bottom areas within the inshore waters along the coast of Alabama.  Hard bottom substrate in the form of limestone aggregate, repurposed concrete, oyster half-shells, or low-relief concrete modules provide hard surfaces and crevices that supports a diverse ecosystem.  Bioengineers such as oysters, hook mussels, and barnacles further increase the complexity of the hard bottom substrate and, over time, transform it into a true reef.  Mud crabs, snapping shrimps, and a host of small finfish such as blennies, gobies, and skilletfish utilize the reef habitat for foraging and shelter from predators.  The combination of these cryptic animals and epifaunal bioengineers provides food resources necessary to increase the production of many of the inshore finfish (eg. spotted seatrout, sheepshead, red drum, flounder, etc.) targeted by Alabama’s inshore anglers.

The first major inshore fishing reef construction project, Roads to Reefs, was the result of the cumulative effort of AMRD, local road builders, the Coastal Conservation Association and the Alabama Wildlife Federation.  The Roads to Reefs project began in 2000 and 8 new inshore reefs were constructed as a result of the coordination.  The new reefs were constructed with repurposed concrete culverts, bridge spans and junction boxes and loose aggregate material such as crushed limestone and oyster half-shells.  The general strategy used during reef construction was to outline the perimeter of each reef’s boundary with the larger concrete material and placement of the aggregate material inside the “ring” of concrete.  Despite surviving numerous hurricanes and resisting subsidence into Mobile Bay sediments, the repurposed concrete deployed along the perimeter of many of the inshore reefs can still be observed on recent side-scan mosaics.   

The second major inshore reef construction project was the Natural Gas Rig/Rock project.  The seabed surrounding 7 natural gas production platforms operated by Exxon-Mobil and Legacy Resources in the southern portion of Mobile Bay was enhanced with 3”X 6” limestone aggregate.  Although the project was completed in 2003 much of the original material is still present allowing these reefs to be productive today.  The combination of structure throughout the water column from the platform legs and the hard bottom habitat along the seabed creates the perfect habitat for sheepshead in the spring and spotted seatrout in the summer.  The Legacy Resources platforms were taken out of service and the remaining reef areas are now marked with pilings, signs, and a flashing yellow light.  However, the Exxon-Mobil platforms are still in operation and provide quality catches for Mobile Bay anglers.

The third major inshore reef project was conducted in 2016 to enhance many of the existing inshore artificial reefs.  A large percentage of the limestone aggregate and oyster half-shells used during previous reef construction projects had subsided into the seabed or deteriorated beyond ecological use.  Therefore, many of Alabama’s inshore reefs were enhanced with larger aggregate material such as 3” X 6” or #2 limestone aggregate.  During this project, the limestone aggregate material was deployed in a manner to create small mounds in order to provide vertical relief of the reef material. 

Other artificial reefs have been constructed outside of those associated with the three large projects described above.  Reefs along the west end of Dauphin Island, Pelican Bay, Weeks Bay, and Perdido Bay have been constructed through partnerships with the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sport Fish Restoration program, Coastal Conservation Association of Alabama, and the Alabama Wildlife Federation.  Without these partnerships, Alabama’s inshore anglers would not have the fishing opportunities available today.  The Marine Resources Division remains committed to creating and enhancing habitat to support important marine fish populations and will continue to foster relationships with organizations and individuals to advance projects that will add to the 34 inshore reefs previously constructed to date.