A variety of tree types are used by state agencies depending on availability.  These include: ash, cedar, citrus, cottonwood, elm, fir, hickory,  juniper, locust, lodgepole, manzanita, mesquite, persimmon, pine, and willow.   Some common configurations are pictured below (a-suspended horizontal placement; b-suspended vertical bundle; c-horizontal bundle; d-tepee or pyramid type).

a) trees2 b) trees1

  c) trees4       d) trees5


Click here for map of states that used this method.

Major reasons used:

  • low or no cost
  • availability of materials

Reported advantages:

Most studies indicate increased angler catch rates and/or catch per unit effort of sportfish around structures, including largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), crappie (Pomoxis sp.), bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), and channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) (see references below).

Some structures provide nursery habitat for young fish (e.g., Cofer 1991).

Structures can be colonized by periphyton, a food source for macroinvertebrates.

Good for public relations (e.g., Christmas tree recycling programs).

Reported disadvantages:

Materials may deteriorate with age, so fish use may decrease over time.

Structures are prone to snagging tackle.

Due to lure loss, angler use may decrease.


Trees placed vertical in the water column may be more effective for longer periods of time than those lying horizontal.

One solution for limiting snags is tying multiple trees together in the vertical position forming rows of trees. This allows fisherman to cast between rows and avoid snagging.

If suspended off the bottom, problems with siltation or fluctuating water levels can be minimized.

Species of tree may be important.  Trees which provide more dense cover, such as cedar, concentrate smaller fish; whereas trees which provide less dense coverage, such as oak, concentrate larger fish (Cofer 1991).

Mean reported time to create/place one structure/unit: 15 hrs (range 0.1 – 160, n=63)

Mean reported life of structure/unit: 9 yrs (range 1 – 100, n=61)

Degrees of Satisfaction:
*average ratings on a scale of 1 – 5 with 1 being very satisfied and 5 being very dissatisfied.

  • fish attractor to increase angler catch and harvest  1.8 (n=53)
  • fish production/spawning habitat  2.0 (n=11)
  • adult habitat/sanctuary  2.1 (n=21)
  • recruitment  2.6  (n=30)

Related references:

Boxrucker, J. Oklahoma.  1983.  Evaluation of brush pile installation as a method to increase catch rates of largemouth bass and other sport fishes.  Final Report F-39-R-9, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Oklahoma City.

Cofer, L.  1991.  Oak versus cedar trees as fish attractors: comparisons by angling and electrofishing.  U.S. Forest Service General Technical Report 207:67-72.

Glenn, T. R.  1983.  Effects of fish attractors on sport fishing success on Norris Reservoir, Tennessee.  Masters Thesis, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Johnson, D. L., and W. E. Lynch, Jr.  1992.  Panfish use of and angler success at evergreen tree, brush, and stake-bed structures.  North American Journal of Fisheries Management 12:222-229.

Lawson, C. S.  1981.  Fish utilization of midwater and bottom fish attractors in a fertilized community fishing lake.  Proc. Annu. Conf. Southeast. Assoc. Fish Wildl. Agencies 35:372-375.

Lemons, B.  1992.  Lake Powell artificial habitat project.  Final Report, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Page.

McGuckin, A. W.  1995.  A comparison of natural and synthetic forms of man-made habitat in two Oklahoma reservoirs.  Master’s Thesis, University of Oklahoma, Norman.

McKinney, S. P., and five co-authors.  1992.  Longevity of fish attractor materials.  1991 – 1992 Fish Management Annual Progress Report, Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, Tallahassee.

McKinney, S. P., and four co-authors.  1993.  Longevity of fish attractor materials.  1988-1993 Completion Report, Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, Tallahassee.

Myatt, D. O. III.  1996.  Midwater fish attractors.  Pages 303-315 in F. M. D’Itri, editor.  Artificial Reefs: Marine and Freshwater Applications.

Pierce, B. E., and G. R. Hooper.  1980.  Barkley Lake symposium: fish standing crop comparisons of tire and brush fish attractors in Barkley Lake, Kentucky.  Proc. Annu. Conf. Southeast. Assoc. Fish Wildl. Agencies 33:688-691.

Richards, T.  1997.  Placement and monitoring of synthetic and evergreen tree fish attracting devices.  Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Westborough.

Rold, R. E., T. S. McComish, and D. E. Van Meter.  1996.  A comparison of cedar trees and fabricated polypropylene modules as fish attractors in a strip mine impoundment.  North American Journal of Fisheries Management 16:223-227.

Timmons, T. J., and W. E. Garrett.  1985.  Effectiveness of residual stumps as fish attractors at Aliceville Lake, Alabama-Mississippi.  North American Journal of Fisheries Management 5:309-310.

Timmons, T. J., and W. L. Shelton.  1982.  Marking fish attractors in lakes with fluctuating water levels.  North American Journal of Fisheries Management 2:97.

Wilbur, R. L.  1974.  Florida’s fresh water fish attractors.  Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, Fisheries Bulletin No. 6, Tallahassee.

Wilbur, R. L.  1978.  Two types of fish attractors compared in Lake Tohopekaliga, Florida.  Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 107:689-695.

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