Sink Your Christmas Tree to Create a Fishing Hotspot

Recycle your Christmas tree by donating it to a local conservation department to create a habitat for fish and aquatic wildlife.

Recycle your Christmas tree by donating it to a local conservation department to create a habitat for fish and aquatic wildlife.

As the holiday season comes to a close, many of us are more than ready to get rid of our old Christmas tree. With curbside pick-up the norm across much of the country, little thought is given to alternative options. But this year, why not consider donating your Christmas tree to improve fish habitat?

Contact your local and state conservation department to learn about designated recycling locations in your area, as well as any regulations. Many agencies offer volunteer opportunities to help with the efforts to recycle trees into fish habitat. 

Why Sink Your Christmas Tree?

When it comes to fishing, habitat is one of the most important aspects to angling success. In water bodies lacking structure and depth changes, baitfish will be heavily scattered. This often means finding your desired sportfish can be quite difficult. Without refuge, many fish remain inactive most of the day, suspending over deep water. Adding cover provides much needed nutrition for even the smallest of species, and with this the food chain will follow.

As woody plant tissue decomposes, Mother Nature jumpstarts a whole new series of vegetation at the lowest levels of life such as phytoplankton and various algaes. Zooplankton, also known as water fleas, populate and forage on the new vegetation, attracting small insects, mussels, snails, and crayfish who also eat on the phyto and zooplankton. The abundance of life then attracts small, non-predatory fish that eat on the small insects or zooplankton, and the larger, predator species we cherish. As the saying goes, “Find the Bait, and You’ll Find the Fish.”

Read more about Christmas Trees for improved habitat at Keep America Fishing

Where to Recycle Your Tree in Rhode Island

Please do not dispose of Christmas trees on the beach! While this practice can be helpful to trap sand and prevent erosion, it requires a coordinated community effort and location planning to be effective. A storm can easily wash them away, even trees that are secured with stakes, causing a cleanup challenge.

Instead, consider donating your tree for upcoming projects to restore river habitats in a collaborative effort with DEM Division of Fish and Wildlife and Trout Unlimited Rhode Island Chapter!

Christmas trees may be dropped off between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., on Saturday, January 2nd and Saturday, January 9th at F&W’s Arcadia Check Station off RT. 165, Ten Rod Road at Wood River in Exeter.

*(No synthetic trees, trees with tinsel/other synthetic materials still attached, or trees sprayed with fire retardant chemicals.)

24 on “Sink Your Christmas Tree to Create a Fishing Hotspot

  1. Mark

    What you are proposing is called dumping in most jurisdictions at least as far as public waterways. More often than not, it’s illegal. In addition, you are knowingly encouraging individuals to create hazards to navigation. To say this article is irresponsible is an understatement.

    1. BA

      They did not write the article, the link to the entire article is above. In the entire article, they specifically mention that some areas have specific locations that are okay to do such a thing. Check it out

  2. Jerry

    I also think this article is poor sends a bad message to dump in waterways many bad issues with your suggestion. I think the magazine should have an article recanting their suggestions.

  3. Jerry

    Looks like the guy in your photo picked up the whole neighborhoods Trees! Imagine going to your favorite honey hole to find a pile of trees where you wanted to fish! The authorities would have a field day writing summons. I always enjoy reading your magazine but you a way off on this. Maybe next month inter view a warden,coast guard etc get their professional opinion. Ask them if the guy dumping says he read it in your magazine does that make its okay?

    1. Dean

      If the lakes are county or state owned this isn’t allowed. If it is privately owned that’s a different story. Dumping is illegal. !!!!

  4. Dave L

    A disclaimer to check and coordinate with local officials before doing any such thing probably would’ve been in order at the introduction of this article. HOWEVER, I am aware of multiple sanctioned programs in Massachusetts that use trees for artificial reefs. It can be successful when deployed correctly.

    1. Kevin Blinkoff

      You’re absolutely right Dave. We’ve copied the disclaimer found on the complete article and put it at the the introduction of this article. Thanks.

  5. Tony

    I agree with Jerry it’s not a good thing at all. We have enough of sh*t in our water. And I also would think that it is illegal.

  6. Stephen Carman

    While I understand the hazzards involved would depend upon the depth and height and location of the recommended several trees and vessel types permitted in the area, I was nevertheless somewhat amazed to read in the second part of this article (how to sink your tree) the specific recommendation that the trees be just covered by both high and low tide only to prevent other anglers from getting curious about your honey spot! Where is the concern for legality, safety, prudence, even courtesy? Certainly there are other dimensions to this you haven’t addressed!

  7. Frank Yager

    This is the most stupidest thing I ever heard of Christmas trees in the bay or ocean where you fish

  8. Phil

    Google “Christmas trees fish habitat”, and read how many agencies including the Corps of Engineers, and Fish and Wildlife encourage it, and or accept tree donations for this purpose. Like anything else, there’s a right way to do it.

  9. Jill C

    I have to agree with the other comments, I understand what your creating but it’s against what we are trying to accomplish with the environment and against all the rules

  10. Randy

    This is nothing new and has been going on for years If doing it in public waters you should check with the local DEC

  11. bob thomason

    I have to agree with the non believers here. while the concept sounds good, dumping old plastic buckets with concrete into the lakes doesn’t sound like a good idea. It’s like the lame brain boaters who use old engine blocks as mooring anchors. They have no way to retrieve these, and don’t ever intend to. Investing in a mushroom anchor usually means the person has some intent to remove their stuff when done. That plastic bucket is there for a long time. As it eventually breaks down, who knows what kind of toxic chemicals will be released into the water. There are many people who use lakes and rivers. Why should fisherman lay claim to the waters only to improve their luck. Things like this only give us a bad image. Take your old trees to a chipper, and keep our waters clean.

  12. Pg

    I’m not saying what’s being suggested is right or wrong. I don’t know all the pros and cons. What I do know is this is a glass half empty crowd. Y’all angry!!

  13. Waleye

    Great idea OTW! I noticed you provided a disclaimer, yet I see many people ran right to the comments to share uneducated feelings on this article, LOL! Tight Lines!

  14. John Z Sr.

    This is a GREAT IDEA ! It is done in Florida and it does help out kind of like a wreath. many places do this and although not new it is still a valuable recycling program that helps out the envirment. AGAIN READ THE WHOLE STORY! It does tell YOU to CHECK with the LOCAL AUTHORITY’S.

  15. Vee muth

    If it helps create life to grow in a new habitat please take my tree. Ppl are too quick to give a stupid remark then to read the full article!

  16. Paul S

    First and foremost follow the local rules and regulations! if Christmas tree sinking is allowed it’s a great way to incubate a “hotspot” especially on large lakes and reservoirs. I have caught some great hybrids and bass fishing these hotspots.

  17. Jim S

    Great Idea, however, I believe the Christmas Tree reef planting on public waters should be coordinated with the local DF&W authority. Arbitrarily planting trees any old place can cause problems, such as for navigation, backing up streams, etc.

  18. Frank Cummings

    Some years ago I read about a couple of guys being arrested for sinking Christmas trees and then collecting the lures hung up in the trees.

  19. Gerry Gilford

    I keep dumping my tree in the canal every year trying to create a lil structure. Inevitably it just gets swept out to sea.

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