Oil Rig Fishing in the Gulf of Mexico Explained

Studying Time: 8 minutes

Oil rig fishing within the Gulf of Mexico must be on each angler’s bucket listing. Nothing beats it for motion, and also you by no means know what you would possibly head again to the dock with. From big Amberjack and Grouper to Tuna, Wahoo, and even Marlin, the Gulf’s best all hang around round these underwater towers.

What makes oil rigs so productive for anglers? What are you able to catch, and the way? And most significantly, the place do you have to go to fish them? At this time, we’ll cowl all these questions and extra. You may as well be taught what’s being accomplished to show these platforms into true fish havens.

Why go oil rig fishing within the Gulf of Mexico?

Previously, bluewater fishing was as a lot a query of luck as talent. The fundamental tactic was to move out into the Gulf and troll till the clicker sounded. In fact, captains adopted currents, temperature breaks, and visible cues like birds and particles, however discovering fish was removed from sure. More often than not, it wasn’t even that doubtless. Oil rigs modified that.

These towering constructions appeal to marine life from miles round. They construct up corals and vegetation, and supply shelter for bait fish. This, in flip, brings greater, predatory species. Fairly quickly, you’ve gotten a whole ecosystem, from minnow to Marlin. You possibly can catch a dozen totally different fish simply by working totally different depths.

In fact, oil rigs aren’t alone in attracting fish. Synthetic construction has been doing so for hundreds of years. The distinction now could be that you’ve got giant, mounted platforms which are marked on the map and straightforward to identify. What’s extra, they rise by means of all the water column. There are additionally a variety of them – wherever from 1,862 to just about 4,000, relying on who you ask. Discovering fish has by no means been really easy.

From Rigs to Reefs

Earlier than we leap into the angling itself, a bit of historical past. It’s nonetheless about fishing, we promise.

The Gulf’s first oil platform was constructed means again in 1938, but it surely wasn’t till the ‘70s that offshore rigs as we all know them appeared. By 1984, oil rig fishing was so fashionable that Congress handed legal guidelines permitting states to show these fish magnets into everlasting reefs. This grew to become generally known as “The Rigs to Reefs Program” and it created a few of the Gulf’s high fishing spots.

Often, when a drilling lease expires, the rig is hauled again to land and scrapped. Changing it right into a reef as an alternative is loads cheaper and preserves the fish habitat on the similar time. As a part of the reefing deal, a few of the cash that corporations save then goes to the state’s synthetic reef program. Everyone wins!

So, how do you flip an oil rig right into a reef? You possibly can both break it in half, tip it over, or drag it to a extra appropriate spot (“partial elimination,” “topple-in-place” or “tow-and-place” within the trade lingo). The strategy used relies on how giant the rig is, in addition to the depth of water it sits in. 

In fact, not each rig is appropriate for reefing. It needs to be in the correct place and made in the correct means. It additionally must be structurally sound. Even so, the Rigs to Reefs Program has transformed over 500 defunct constructions into bustling fish cities. And that’s on high of the 1000’s of operational platforms all through the Gulf of Mexico.

What are you able to catch round Gulf oil rigs?

Alright, we’ve talked sufficient concerning the rigs themselves. Let’s get into the enjoyable half: the fish. The factor that makes oil rig fishing particular is which you can goal backside and pelagic species in the identical spot. This actually expands your listing of goal species. Listed here are a number of of the fish you would possibly come throughout in your journey.

Yellowfin Tuna

Yellowfin Tuna are the signature catch on rig fishing journeys. They develop massive, battle arduous, style nice, and look critically cool. What’s extra, you could find all of them yr spherical. Nonetheless, you’ll must go 50 miles or extra to get them, relying on the place you begin.


They might be generally known as “Reef Donkeys,” however the chunk across the oil rigs is even higher. Amberjack round this offshore construction develop nearly too massive and provides no floor in the course of the battle. Get one aboard, and also you’ll have feasts for weeks – in the event you can elevate your arms to eat.

Purple Snapper

Palms down one of the best meals fish within the Gulf! Purple Snapper are a seasonal specialty in many of the Gulf as a result of quick federal season. Time your journey, and you’ll fill your coolers with premium fillets. Texas additionally has a few rigged reefs in state waters, the place you possibly can catch them year-round.

Blue Marlin

Marlin are a a lot rarer sight than the remainder. They’re extra of a fortunate draw than a goal species. Nonetheless, in the event you’re set on catching one, distant offshore rigs are about essentially the most promising locations to strive. Late summer season is one of the best time of yr to search for Blue Marlin within the Gulf.

And Extra!

Relying on how far offshore you go, you might catch Cobia, Kingfish, deep-water Groupers, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, and big pelagic Sharks. There are such a lot of totally different fish on the market, it’s unattainable to listing all of them right here. That’s a part of the enjoyable – you by no means know what would possibly take your bait.

Methods to Fish Round Oil Rigs

We received’t go into the nitty-gritty of deal with alternative and trolling spreads. All of it modifications with the circumstances on the day, and 5 folks will at all times have six totally different opinions on the matter. As an alternative, right here’s a run-down of how you can strategy and work a rig, in addition to some ideas for focusing on the principle species on the market.

Selecting a Rig

That is harder than it might sound at first. With so many platforms within the Gulf, it’s now not a case of “head to the closest tower and see what’s there.” As an alternative, you need to discover a rig in clear, blue water. Satellite tv for pc and chlorophyll information are your mates right here. You additionally need the correct temperature. Ideally, goal for water that’s within the low 70s to low 80s, relying on the time of yr.

In fact, the water is barely half the equation. You additionally want the correct depth and sort of platform. Should you’re after reef fish, search for rigged reefs in round 300 ft of water. Partially eliminated rigs are the dream, since you get double the construction and much more top within the water. Should you’re after massive sport pelagics, you need the deepest platform with the clearest water.

Fishing a Rig

Step one while you arrive at a rig is to determine what the currents are doing. Bait fish have a tendency to hang around simply up present of no matter construction they’re hiding round and that is no exception. Begin near the platform and work your means out to round 100 yards or so. As soon as you discover the bait, you’ll discover the larger fish fairly fast. 

The most effective fashion of fishing varies from species to species. Chunking is efficient for Tuna and Sharks, whereas trolling is best for Marlin and Wahoo. Should you’re after backside fish, begin simply above the highest of the construction and steadily jig your means all the way down to the underside. You’ll catch totally different fish at each depth with out spooking those beneath them.

The place to Go Oil Rig Fishing within the Gulf

There are millions of oil rigs within the Gulf of Mexico. Nonetheless, some spots have significantly better entry to them than others. These are the locations that you must begin your journey from to get essentially the most out of your time at sea.


Louisiana has the lion’s share of the Gulf’s oil platforms. As such, it’s a pure alternative for a rig fishing journey. Essentially the most iconic place to launch is the fishing village of Venice, LA, 50 miles southeast of New Orleans within the Mississippi Delta. Hardcore anglers can moor even farther downstream at Port Eads, a marina on the very tip of the delta.

Beginning your fishing journey thus far into the Gulf has apparent benefits. You will get to the deepest and most distant waters even on a day journey. You don’t have to begin this far out, although. Oil platforms cowl the federal waters off Louisiana. The state additionally led the way in which with the Rigs to Reefs Program, utilizing over 300 platforms to create 71 synthetic reefs all through their waters.


To not be outdone, Texas additionally has tons of of platforms deployed all through the northern Gulf. Galveston is a basic staging level for fishing them, as are Corpus Christi and Port Aransas farther down the coast. South Texas cities like South Padre Island have fewer rigs, however they’re nearer to the very deepest websites like Perdido, which sits in 8,000 ft of water.

Unsurprisingly, Texas has additionally been one of many spearheads of the Rigs to Reefs Program. Thus far, the State has transformed over 50 outdated rigs. They begin on the state waterline (9 nautical miles out) and go all the way in which to the sting of the continental shelf, 100 miles offshore. Texas Parks & Wildlife even made a useful interactive map that can assist you discover them.

Alabama and Mississippi

Alabama and Mississippi are a bit of totally different to Western Gulf states. There simply aren’t as many oil platforms on this a part of the Gulf. The states even have a lot fewer rigged reefs. That’s to not say that you simply shouldn’t fish right here. Gulf Shores and Biloxi are superior beginning factors for an offshore journey, as are a dozen close by cities. Nonetheless, the actual motion is inshore.

Each states have a ton of inshore and nearshore platforms. In Mississippi, most websites sit in beneath 100 ft of water. Alabama takes issues even additional, with nice rig fishing inside Cellular Bay. If you wish to go rig fishing for Tuna and Marlin, you’re higher off in Louisiana. Nonetheless, in order for you enormous Cobia and Mackerel, that is the place for you.

What about Florida?

Picture supply: Knowledge Basin

We by no means thought we’d say this, however Florida really has the worst fishing within the Gulf – not less than relating to rigs. The Sunshine State has by no means had a lot of an oil trade, and it has been persistently against exploration in each state and close by federal waters. To be sincere, we don’t thoughts. There are many fish to catch there already.

Oil Rigs within the Gulf of Mexico: Unintended Fish Factories

You wouldn’t consider the oil trade as one thing that goes hand in hand with fishing. Generally, you’d be proper. The Gulf of Mexico has seen first hand how badly the 2 can combine. Nonetheless, in some circumstances, oil rigs might be nice for fish. They supply cowl and construction, making a haven for total ecosystems – particularly as soon as they’re transformed into reefs.

What this implies for you is which you can head out to those underwater skyscrapers and discover a variety of big, hard-fighting fish. And you are able to do it day-after-day of the yr. Positive, one of the best oil rig fishing within the Gulf is perhaps 50 and even 100 miles offshore. However with Tuna, Marlin, and a variety of deep-water backside fish all combating in your bait, it’s effectively price it.

Have you ever ever been oil rig fishing within the Gulf of Mexico? The place did you begin, and what did you catch? Drop us your tales and ideas within the feedback beneath. In any other case, leap on a neighborhood constitution and begin hauling in monsters!

Leave a Comment