Construction is set to begin this week on three artificial reefs designed to protect scour holes created at Ship Shoal 26 out of Dularge and Cocodrie, known to many Louisiana speckled trout anglers as the Pickets.

According to a press release from Coastal Conservation Association Louisiana, roughly 14,000 tons of 4-inch limestone will be deployed where the Pickets structures once stood.

“This area has served as a trout fishing haven for many years, and we are extremely pleased that we are able to preserve this angling hot spot,” said Randy Pausina, head of fisheries with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. "Speckled trout and redfish are typically associated with low- to mid-relief structures which provide a refuge from currents, where they can remain without expending energy while preying on food as it is carried across the structure. 

“This makes this area a particularly important fisheries habitat.” 

Construction of the reef is being made possible by a public/private partnership between CCA, LDWF, Apache Corporation and Fieldwood Energy, according to a CCA release.

“There are many trout fishermen in this state who have fond memories of the Pickets," said David Cresson, executive director of Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana. “It’s unfortunate that we have to say goodbye to those structures, but we are grateful to have partners here who were committed to doing everything they could to maintain the area for future generations. 

“The Pickets has been a special place, and this partnership is working to make sure it stays that way.”

The $1.2 million project is the tenth reef funded through the Louisiana Artificial Reef Trust Fund, and the 14th reef overall built by CCA Louisiana since 2004.

“This had the potential to be a sad ending to a storied fishing spot, but now we have a tremendous amount of hard structure going in to replace habitat that is required to be removed,” said John Walther, chairman of CCA Louisiana's Habitat Committee. “This is the best outcome that could be achieved, and Apache and Fieldwood should be commended. 

“They didn't have to go the extra mile, but both companies wanted to make this right from the beginning and they certainly stepped up. We hope this can be a template for addressing marine habitat that stands to be lost due to the Idle Iron Policy.”

Marker buoys will be placed on the site after construction is completed so that anglers can easily locate the reefs.