, Fishing News
New Feature

Click on Columnists  to access travelogues, field reports, advice, humorous tales and answers to your Q’s! 


Website of the Week


Oil Rigs: Fish Habitat or Liability?

By Erin Loury, FISHBIO
10/12/15 -- Picturing the ocean's edge often brings to mind a broad, untouched skyline, broken only by birds and clouds. But in places like the southern California coast and the Gulf of Mexico, that flat horizon is transformed into a skyline dotted with towering man-made structures and lights glowing at night. These are offshore oil rigs (or platforms), and their role in the marine environment is highly debated. Despite their economic value, oil platforms can be an unpleasant sight, and have also been responsible for some of the worst environmental disasters in American history, including the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, and more recently the Santa Barbara oil spill off the California coast in 2015. However, studies suggest these structures may provide shelter and prey resources for a variety of marine species, making them a valuable marine habitat.

Oil rig in Gulf of Mexico, photo by the Cowan Lab, Louisiana State University
Oil rig in Gulf of Mexico, photos by the Cowan Lab, Louisiana State University

Oil platforms vary in size and are located at a range of depths, from shallow (30 m) to deep waters (more than 200 m). Federal law requires these structures to be removed once they are no longer producing oil/gas, which also means potentially removing critical habitat for many marine organisms. In the Gulf of Mexico, a program called Rigs-to-Reefs allows decommissioned structures to be toppled and positioned to continue providing habitat and hard substrate for marine invertebrates and fish. In 2010, California adopted its own version of Rigs-to-Reefs, in which platforms may be toppled or partially removed on a case-by-case basis; however, no platforms have yet been toppled as part of the program. To date, there are 23 standing oil and gas platforms installed in federal waters and four in state waters off California. For comparison, more than 2,300 active oil and gas platforms currently stand in the Gulf of Mexico, and they are now being removed at a record rate before scientists and stakeholders can evaluate the potential risks to fisheries this may cause.

Fish swimming under oil rig, photos by the Cowan Lab, Louisiana State University
Oil platforms provide valuable habitat.

Worldwide, oil platforms provoke debate about their ecological role regarding whether they 1) actually produce more fish by providing critical habitat where fish can reproduce (i.e. production hypothesis) or 2) simply aggregate existing fish as a refuge that attracts fish and predators, such as larger fish or fishermen (i.e. attraction hypothesis) (Daigle et al. 2013). Much ongoing research is working to better elucidate the role of these artificial reefs as fish habitat, in light of recent U.S. government estimates that suggest all the quantity of oil and gas produced at California's offshore platforms will cease to be economically viable in the next 15 years. A recent study by Claisse et al. (2014) concluded that at oil and gas platforms off the coast of California, associated animals grow more (produce more biomass) per swath of seafloor than in any other marine habitat that has been studied, suggesting these platforms should be considered valuable habitat for important fish species such as rockfish (genus Sebastes).

Snapper swimming under oil rig, photo by the Cowan Lab, Louisiana State University
Fish such as Red Snapper use oil rig structure to hide from predators.

Similar research is ongoing in the Gulf of Mexico to determine if these dominant structures have an ecological impact on fish communities. Non-invasive sampling methods involving hydracoustic and video surveys are being used to better determine which fish species are using oil platforms and how they are distributed around the structures (Reynolds 2015). One species of interest found in abundance at platforms is the economically and ecologically important red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus). Despite their abundance at oil platforms, previous studies reported these fish are actually in better nutritional condition at natural banks in the Gulf of Mexico compared to toppled artificial structures nearby (Schwartzkopf 2014). This could mean the platforms may not be functioning as well as natural habitats, as once thought. Natural banks have also been noted to support more diverse fish communities than artificial reefs (Langland 2015). Additional research is necessary to determine how much benefit structures really confer on red snapper compared to natural habitats, as well as more studies comparing platforms across varying habitats, depths, and substrates in the Gulf of Mexico.

Oil platforms are a complex topic that bring both benefits and risks, and can influence the environment in a variety of ways long after they've served their primary purpose. These structures may even be able to contribute to energy collection in the future by harvesting wind or tidal energy if used correctly. It's worth contemplating how oil platforms have changed the environment for fish with their installation, and how they may further change that environment with their removal.

FISHBIO is a dedicated group of research scientists, engineers, and technicians that specialize in counting, tracking, and analyzing trends in fish and wildlife populations throughout the world. An expert staff, technical capacity, and state-of-the-art equipment make FISHBIO a trailblazer in aquatic research. For more information, please visit

Fishing Reports

A Hot Summer’s Day on Chico Creek
A Hot Summer's Day on Chico Creek, Steven T. Callan
On Patrol by Steven T. Callan
07/25/16 -- I’ve been exploring Northern California’s streams -- above and below the surface -- for most of my life. One of my most memorable adventures took place on a hot summer’s day in 1964, not long after my sixteenth...Full Story
Brownie’s Choice
Art work by Isabella Langaman
By Don Webster
Disregard the story’s title. I don’t really have a “first” name. If I did, it would probably be something like Leviathan or Behemoth or maybe Lunker. Officially, I’m a trout. A brown trout. A giant, brown trout. Possibly the biggest, fattest...Full Story
Keddie Ridge
Scouting Deerheart Lake, photo by Phil Akers
Article and photos by Phil “Flip” Akers
11/14/15 -- Adjacent to both Lake Almanor and Mountain Meadows, between the towns of Westwood and Greenville, is a seemingly forgotten piece of backcountry; Keddie Ridge – aka Ridge World – where ancient rocks... Full Story
Let’s check out the Upper Sac
Lake Siskiyou with Mt. Shasta standing sentinel. photo by Phil Akers
Article and photos by Phil "Flip" Akers
09/06/15 -- The Upper Sacramento River – The Upper Sac – begins at Lake Siskiyou’s Box Canyon Dam and continues ~37 miles downstream to Lake Shasta. It is a classic freestone river born from the Mt. Shasta and Mt. Eddy... Full Story
How to make Tuscan Tuna Salad with Fennel By Frank Galusha
05/04/15 -- OK, you went ocean fishing. If your fish is fresh or if you have processed, vacuum packed and frozen your catch properly, there are many ways to enhance your meals. Almost everything taken from the ocean is not... Full Story
German brown trout afternoon in Modoc
german brown trout in Modoc creek.
By Lea Huetteman
09/04/14 -- Catching a German Brown Trout from the creeks in Modoc County is a fine way to spend an afternoon. There are many creeks in this part of California that drain the Warner Mountains. Stream trout fishing in this region opens...Full Story
Throw the kitchen sink at them
Indian Paintbrush is a favorite wildflower that carpets wilderness landscapes. Phil Flip Akers,
Article and photos by Phil Akers
08/20/14 -- Our wilderness areas are special, where Mother Nature is landlord and natural forces operate freely. Within the wilderness you will find no roads, shelters, picnic tables, toilets, or other conveniences. You enter at...Full Story
Humboldt Bay: Busy port, excellent fishery
Woodley Island Marina, Humboldt Bay, Eureka, California
03/06/04 -- Humboldt Bay, a busy commercial harbor and home port to many charter and private offshore fishing boats, is also popular with shore-based anglers and small boaters seeking bottomfish, sharks, crabs and clams...Full Story
Pulled into the pipes: Green Sturgeon
green sturgeon
By Erin Loury, FISHBIO
03/04/14 -- [Posted with permission of FISHBIO] Living in the Sacramento River can be a risky business for juvenile green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris). The young fish must swim through a gauntlet of water... Full Story
Not Just Any Fish
California Golden Trout, California Heritage Trout Challenge, Not Just Any Fish, Phil
By Phil "Flip" Akers
02/14/13 -- Trout have inhabited California waters from the Sierra Nevada and Warner Mountains to the Pacific Ocean since prehistoric times. However, most of the trout caught by anglers are either hatchery raised fish...Full Story


Your outdoor adventures have only just begun
Northern California Fishing News, Northern California Hunting Reports

Fishing News

Northern California and Southern Oregon offer superb fresh and saltwater fishing. Before you make a trip, make sure you have
up-to-date news about where the fish are biting!

Hunting News

This region is also famous for its world-class hunting opportunities. Make sure you are armed with the absolute latest news by checking
the reports being filed daily at

Northern California Outdoor News, Northern California Outdoor Reports Outdoor News 

If you like to explore the great outdoors your choices are essentially infinite in Northern California and Southern Oregon. Use our news pages to plan your next outing!

Northern California Destination News, Northern California Destination Reports


So many places to visit and so little time, but if you scan
these pages you'll know in advance what lies ahead and what
not to miss in the almost-mythical State of Jefferson.
Buddy Photos

You are there! Towering mountains, vast valleys, unique shorelines. Land, water and air bursting with life. Opportunity presents itself. Llghting is right. Click! An image is captured for the ages.

Photo Galleries,

Photo Galleries

A preview of coming attractions...if you are planning a trip to this area be forewarned: What photographers have captured will whet your appetite for what will be an outdoor journey filled with wonders.  

Product & Services Directory

Don't let anything come between you and a wonderful weekend, vacation or or auto tour in this region. The fine product and services providers listed here will have what you need to enjoy your visit.  

Come back to for more Northern California and Southern Oregon fishing, hunting and outdoor news, reports, information, opinions and photos.


A friend to all who love the outdoors since 2006

Website Design Photo Credits: thanks the following individuals for contributing photographs for use on our Home and Section pages: Anders Tomlinson of, Casey Allen of Bayside, CA; Jason Haley of Medford, OR; Steve Breth of Burney, CA; Tracy McCormack of Eureka, CA; Grant Thompson of Grand Junction, CO; Richard Bott of Shingletown, CA; Ron Loftus of Yreka, CA; Scott Caldwell of Montague, CA; Lorissa Soriano of Alturas, CA and the late Dave Menke, formerly with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

Website Design by Anders Tomlinson

©Copyright 2005-2015 by Frank Galusha, Editor and Publisher. Articles and photos are copyright protected and are published exclusively on the Internet by the publisher and may not be copied, displayed, reproduced or published in any other form without the express written permission of same who reserves all rights. Material supplied by others is the copyrighted property of the respective authors. Re-use of any MyOutdoorBuddy content, graphics and photos without written permission by the author(s) for any purpose is strictly prohibited.