The perceived value of oyster reefs as fish habitat has led to many restoration projects in areas of historically
high oyster populations. This study evaluated fish usage of a limestone cobble mimic oyster reef in Barataria Bay, Louisiana,
as compared to a mud-bottom reference site. Emphasis was given to species of economic and ecological importance,
including spotted seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus), Atlantic croaker (Micropogonias undulatus), and bay anchovy (Anchoa
mitchilli). There were no observed differences in community structure or catch per unit effort (CPUE) between habitats,
likely due to high variability in the data, though seasonal differences were observed. CPUE of spotted seatrout, Atlantic
croaker, and bay anchovy did not differ between habitats. Seasonal differences in abundance were detected, with significantly
higher CPUE of spotted seatrout in summer, of Atlantic croaker in spring and summer, and of bay anchovy in winter.
Spotted seatrout and Atlantic croaker were both significantly larger over the artificial reef, while bay anchovy were
significantly larger over the mud bottom. Spotted seatrout, a prized recreational fishing species in Louisiana, appeared to
be the only species that showed higher biomass, determined by numbers and size, at the the artificial reef. This is important
in the context of managing habitat enhancement projects. While the reef did not increase numbers or species richness
of the overall fish community, it did have an effect on one recreationally important species. Therefore, the success of such
projects is based as much on the intended purpose, as its affect on the overall community.