The Northern and Western Gulf’s drilling rigs attract great varieties of fish and, while size and variety increases the farther offshore you run, the rigs within a few miles of the coast offer great opportunity for small boat anglers. These emergent reefs in the 10 to 20-foot range host self-contained ecosystems with abundant forage that attracts redfish, speckled trout, black drum, jack creavalle and Spanish mackerel.

Unlike the heavy tackle demands of tuna, amberjack, cobia and snapper found on deep water rigs, the coastal game is entirely doable with medium to medium-heavy spinning or baitcasting gear. Natural baits work well, but for a more active effort, keep this trio handy:

Topwaters - Probe the rig’s perimeter with a big, noisy Heddon Saltwater Spook or a Bomber Saltwater Grade Badonk-A-Donk LP. On calm days, a Heddon Chug’n Spook will bring fish higher in the water column for other presentations.

Cork Rigs - The Paradise Popper X-Treme serves a dual role. First, a short leader with a jig and plastic tail below makes a convincing presentation for trout and redfish. However, live bait anglers can use the float rig with a longer leader to drift shrimp or croakers along the rig for fish hiding in the shadows.

Bottom Bumpers - Lastly, a straightforward Shad-Head Jig with plastic tail, or a live shrimp threaded onto the hook will temp anything holding closer to the bottom.