Life on a Gulf of Mexico Chicken Coop

October 22, 2011 by SoWal Staff

For about two decades or more, metal Chicken Coops have been used by fishermen along the Florida Panhandle as artificial reef material to attract fish. In earlier years automobiles, old boats and small airplanes were used but their environmental compatibility was questioned and they were banned. The large metal chicken coops replaced those earlier materials and were quickly adopted as the fish attracting devices (FADS) of choice.

I have fished Chicken Coops that I have found on the bottom for a number of years now. There is something about metal that fish, especially red snapper, are attracted to. A single coop can produce a enormous show on a fisherman's bottom machine which is how most of them are discovered by fishermen other than the ones who put the coops down. Most anglers will tell you that their hottest fishing spots are usually chicken coops.

It has been estimated that a single coop could hold hundreds if not thousands of pounds of red snapper. I was never able to form a picture of Life On A Chicken Coop until local diver, biology teacher and friend Ted Missildine showed me this raw footage that he captured with his movie camera. The coop is an amazing fishing spot that our friend Captain Scott Provow found early this spring. I was delighted to turn the footage into a movie for anglers who, like me, have always wondered what these coops really looked like on the bottom.

Fish found on this coop included Red Snapper, Black Snapper and Gag Grouper with a few Trigger Fish swimming on the outer edges of the big schools of bait fish. The large school of bait fish are called Ruby Red Lips...which I have always caught snugging the bottom and never up in the water.

And finally, there are a few Chicken Coops in the Grayton Beach area that have earned the name "The Aquarium". When a fish is hooked on an "Aquarium" the school will follow the hooked fish up to the surface where they can be sight fished and/or fed.They are best observed on those very calm days when the angler can look deep into the water. I have mostly reserved one Aquarium that I have on my list for viewing and feeding big snapper at the end of our trip. I have often seen big snapper explode on a tossed bait like a big bass hitting a topwater lure. These are always spectacular sights and provide lasting memories for the visiting fisherman.

Story and Video by Edmond Alexander,


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