Creating Artificial Fish Cover

Artificial fish “cover” is an excellent, low-maintenance lake management alternative to plants for providing sanctuary for prey fishes and cover for predatory fishes from which to ambush their prey. Artificial cover serves to increase angler catch rates by congregating fish in smaller, more accessible areas.

Over time, a lake owner can receive more maintenance-free recreation from an artificial structure than from introduced live plants that may eventually grow out of control. It is also important to know that fish of different sizes and life stages require different kinds of fish habitat for protective, foraging, and spawning cover. Juvenile bass and sunfish need tight spaces within which to hide and feed.

Christmas trees, rock piles, and thin brush serve this purpose for small and even mid-sized fish. Adult largemouth bass prefer large interstitial spaces that allow hiding as well as freedom to maneuver and travel within the cover. Brush and trees with larger, open limbs, large rocks, and “PVC trees” work well. As fish increase in size, the complexity of their needed structure decreases. 

When cutting and sinking brush, remember to use hardwood trees (e.g., mesquite, cedar, or oak) that will resist decay longer than softwood (e.g., ash, elm, hackberry and sweetgum). In addition to reducing the frequency at which a lake owner must place additional structure in the lake, using hardwoods will decrease decaying organic input into the lake.

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