Fish Attractors and Habitats: Simple DIY Ideas | Great Days Outdoors

Fish prefer some type of cover. Bass, crappie, bream, and catfish all feel at home around some type of cover. This cover or structure is usually a log, brush, stump or weeds. But, what if the cover in your lake has succumbed to Father Time? There are options anglers can take to add or improve cover in any lake. Building DIY fish habitat structure and attractors is a great idea for any fresh water angler. Sure, there is some effort involved along with a little planning. However, the benefits are worth the trouble. And knowing exactly where the structure has been planted can help improve the odds of catching fish.


fish attractors

A little work will pay big rewards when the fish move into your secret attractors. Photo by Charles Johnson.




For years, anglers have sunk brush into lakes and rivers. Usually, it is a Christmas tree recycled into a fish attractor and anchored to the lake bottom. In recent years, sinking old trees for making fish attractors has become common. There are even volunteers with Alabama Power Company that collect discarded Christmas trees and place them in reservoirs around the state.


Start Simple

Many lakeside residents will take their Christmas tree and sink it near their pier or shoreline for a, when building fish habitat and attractors. A concrete block or a few bricks are tied to the tree base and released in the lake. The weight of the block causes the tree to sink to the bottom.




fish attractors

When placing brush around piers, tied and secure the brush to the post or pilings.


In some lakes, it may only be a matter of hours before minnows and fish call the new cover home. Usually, after a few days fish will locate and take up residence in the tree. However, there are other methods of using one or more old Christmas trees for making fish attractors.

“We would tie the trees to the posts on our dock,” mentions Terry Scott of Eastaboga, Ala. “The trees were tied up vertically usually on the corner posts.”

Scott reports they would fish the trees by dropping a minnow or other bait vertically next to the tree. An advantage of the trees tied to the piling is they won’t drift off with the current. Also, other anglers fishing from a boat would not be able to pull the trees away from the dock.

Most Christmas trees are some type of evergreen tree. Spruce, cedar, pine, and others are common and work fine as fish attractors. These trees are generally around six feet high. For use as fish attractors, the trees can be cut or trimmed to a shorter length. This allows for easier handling and less weight required to sink them to the bottom.

Another simple DIY fish habitat structure is just using hardwood tree limbs. Oak and hickory lose their leaves in the winter. The bare branches can be placed through the openings of a concrete block and easily dropped into the lake.


building diy fish habitat structure

A discarded Christmas tree can be placed through a concrete block for a simple fish attractor.


“Oak trees will last longer,” advises Jeff Carpenter of Wedowee, Ala. “We will place three of four trees off the end of a point.”

The limbs inserted through the block will rest about 12- to 18- inches off the lake bottom. Anglers may want the limbs or small trees to be vertical once in place on the bottom.

One method to help the tree stand vertically is to place the tree trunk or large limb into the block and nail or screw a board on the back of the block to hold the tree to the block. When the block and tree are dropped into the lake the block will sit on the bottom with the tree standing vertically.

Trees more than a few feet tall may require two or more blocks or other types of weights to hold them down on the bottom. Some anglers may tie an empty two-liter soft drink bottle (with the lid on) to the tree tip creating a float to help hold the tree vertical.


Utilizing Building Materials

PVC is a popular material when building fish habitat and attractors. The PVC water pipes are placed in a five-gallon plastic bucket with concrete. Each pipe is cut to various lengths, from around 3- to 5- feet. As many as 10 or more pieces of pipe are used to make a “bushy” type attractor.

“An advantage of either of these PVC trees, besides attracting fish, is they are almost impossible to hang up with a lure.”

An alternate method, using PVC pipe for construction, consists of a 3- inch diameter pipe about 5- feet in length. One-inch diameter holes are drilled in the main pipe at 90- degree angles. The smaller diameter plastic pipe fingers around 2- to 3- feet are inserted through the holes and glued in place.

An advantage of either of these PVC trees, besides attracting fish, is they are almost impossible to hang up with a lure. Jigs and crankbaits will bounce off the PVC making a tick or thump to trigger a strike.


building diy fish habitat structure

Trees and brush can be secured to old pallets and sunk in your favorite fishing hole to attract any species of fish.


Wooden pallets can be easily transformed into a fish attractor. One method uses small trees or limbs that are nailed or screwed to the pallet. Starting on the corners, add the small tees. Continue to add limb and branches to the center portion of the pallet. A couple of large concrete blocks in the center should send the pallet to the bottom.

Scott mentions on lakes with winter drawdown, pallets can be placed out away from piers and docks. Also, they can be anchored out on points or long flats. When the water level returns to normal pool, the fish habitat structure will already be in place.

“We place about three or four treetops or brush piles several feet apart in the same area,” Scott comments.


PVC pipe or brush can be set in a bucket with concrete for an easy to place fish attractor. Photo by Charles Johnson.


Location for Fish Attractors

In lakes void of any type of submerged cover, fish attractors will work just about anywhere. However, there are some specific areas that will help the fish structure be more effective.

“Points near deeper water has worked for us,” Carpenter advises. “We try to place them where it is difficult for other fishermen to find them.”

Barren flats are another top choice for placing DIY fish structure. Fish are looking for something to hide or relate to in open water. Also, areas where you have caught fish in the past, but now have limited cover are good areas to place fish attractors.

While most anglers will place attractors in water 10- feet or less, deeper pockets or creeks can benefit. When the hot days of summer invade the lake, attractors in the 15- 20- feet range will harbor several species of fish. You will want to avoid areas with strong current. The attractors will slide or move around in the current if they are not weighted heavily enough. And, always check your local laws before placing any structure in the water.

There will be some planning and work involved in building your DIY fish habitat structure and attractors. But, when the fish move in and the angler sets the hook on supper, it will be a great day outdoors.


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