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Fishing Artificial Reefs

Jerry Fox

Many anglers are finding that fishing artificial reefs is a great way to increase the probability of a good catch -- and a better day on the water.

Volusia County, Florida (home to NASCAR, Daytona Beach, and the famed Mosquito Lagoon) has been pursuing an aggressive artificial reef program for many years, supported by the Ponce de Leon port authority.

One of the favorites is at Site 3, (Loran C: 44458.0 - 61982.0; Lat/Long: 29°12.00'N, 80°44.87'W) The former USS Mindanao, is the oldest artificial reef ship. She rests in 85 feet of water, 11 miles northeast of Ponce inlet. She is a 446 ft. World War II, Liberty ship. Her flat main deck is 60 ft. below the surface and lies in a general N-S direction. The superstructure was removed before the sinking. The wreck suffered damage during the 1995 winter storms and the bow is now to the NW separated from the hull. Schools of bait fish, tomtate grunts, mangrove snapper, and a few anchors are often seen in her open holds. Small clumps of ivory bush coral and encrusting sponges and tunicates are growing on the steel hull.

Site 5 (Loran C: 44437.8 - 62020.0; Lat/Long: 29°07.17'N, 80°48.34'W) is the closest site to Ponce Inlet. Clean material from the old Port Orange bridge and the New Smyrna Beach bridges were deposited on the site starting in 1990. Grouper, sea bass, flounder, mangrove snapper and variety of colorful soft corals are on the site. Because the site is only about 6 miles from the inlet, visibility may be 10 feet near low tide. However in the summer, before and after cold water upwelling or later in the fall after the huricanes have passsed, visibility is sometimes much better..

There are many other sites to visit. A variety of objects and materials have been used to create the artificial reef sites. Airplanes, ships, old bridge members, concrete culvert piles, etc. have been placed as new habitat. Thirteen sites, with loran and Lat/Long coordinates are listed on the Volusia County site from which this information was taken. You can see them all, with pictures, at

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