Half Moon Reef Restoration

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Oysters and fishermen rate it as a Texas Coastal Hot Spot

One of the more popular fishing spots in West Matagorda Bay is the Half Moon Reef. The reef is one of the largest, innovative, and hugely successful oyster reef restoration project along the Texas Gulf coast.

Half Moon Reef was one of  more than 45 square miles of oyster reefs sprinkled over what was 350-square-mile Matagorda Bay in the late 1800s. In 1905, Half Moon Reef spread over almost 500 acres.

The restored reef is 54 acres of recycled concrete and large chunks of limestone. There are 32 parallel rows, 650 feet long, 18 feet wide, and three feet high with sloping sides.

The new reef is attracting crab, shrimp, marine worms and small finfish, which in turn is attracting larger predator fish. A recent study fit dozens of Matagorda Bay speckled trout with passive acoustic telemetry devices, which has shown that a high percentage of fish are visiting the reef, much to the happiness of the anglers who have found the reef to be a fish producing location.

Further survey results:

55 percent of the private recreational anglers interviewed knew of the reef.

94 percent said the restored habitat offers “a more satisfying experience” than other fishing locations.

75 percent of guides said they take clients to Half Moon Reef. The guides estimated they annually booked an aggregate of 268 more trips because of the Half Moon restoration.

The restored reef has also been an economic plus for the area. Researchers estimate the increased fishing at Half Moon Reef annually added almost $700,000 to the Texas gross domestic product, generated an additional $1.27 million in annual economic activity, created a dozen new jobs, and $465,000 in annual labor income.

The  restoration was made possible through The Nature Conservancy in partnership with Texas General Land Office, state and federal fisheries/wildlife agencies, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and private foundations, costing about $5 million.

Look for the handful of white/orange buoys of Palacios Point in West Matagorda Bay. It’s a long run from the launch ramp, but the fishing can make it worth it. Half Moon Reef is becoming known as one of the better fishing hot spots along the coast.

Story by Tom Behrens

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