The new Half Moon Reef

According to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s Bill Balboa, Half Moon Reef in West Matagorda Bay is holding some fish. That’s nothing new as most reefs are fish magnets, but what’s different about Half Moon is that it’s an old reef that basically disappeared, but has been revitalized.

Through a series of natural events over a long period of time there wasn’t much of the old reef left.  What was left was some really hard substrates. There were still some live oysters, but not many.

“When oysters spawn their larvae swim around freely looking for something hard to sit on,” explained Balboa. “That’s why you find oysters on rocks, pier pilings and other things like that.”

The Nature Conservancy had done some oyster refreshing in Copano Bay and were looking for other areas to work on. “I talked to them about Half Moon Reed,” said Balboa.

The Conservancy completed some engineering studies and found enough good hard bottom to go forward on the restoration of the reef. The last part of the restoration has just been completed.

The new Half Moon Reef, 45 acres, is part limestone and concrete. “The Army Corps of Engineers put the concrete out, and the Nature Conservancy brought in limestone from the Hill Country,”said Balboa. “The reef consists of multiple rows of limestone and concrete rock.”

Healthy oyster reefs grow one atop of each other, higher and higher in the water column, which provides hard bottom habitat which is very rare along Texas coast estuaries.

Finding Half Moon Reef:

The reef is located off of Palacios Point (28.563333, -96.242183) and is marked off with large orange/white buoys.

Fishing:

“Things are already happening, they already have a good set of spat which is what you call small oysters,” said Balboa. “There are also a lot of smaller encrusting organisms, things that are growing along the rocks that are attracting small fish. We are seeing little crabs, little fish in the rocks. I have had several reports from anglers that have been out there and done well. Anglers are making it a fishing destination while they are in the bay. People are calling in and asking for diagrams of the reefs.”

The original water depth before construction on the reef was on average about six feet. The tops of the new reef are fairly shallow. “If anglers are going to go there, once they get into the site they need to be careful because the reefs, depending on tidal conditions, are fairly close to the surface.

“When I was with the Nature Conservancy folks, our lower unit on our motor bumped the crown of a couple of those reefs,” continues Balboa. “It’s not a good idea to keep your boat on a plane and run through the restoration site. You need to take your boat off of plane and idle into the restoration area.”

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