CCA and Partners Build “Theophile’s Reef” near Lafitte

Shell, Jefferson Parish, LDWF partner with CCA to honor legendary angler and conservationist.

Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana, along with conservation partners Shell, Jefferson Parish, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and CCA’s Building Conservation Trust installed a new inshore artificial reef on Tuesday. The project, built in Hackberry Bay near Lafitte, was named “Theophile’s Reef” in honor of legendary Louisiana angler and conservation leader Captain Theophile Bourgeois.

A dedication ceremony for “Theophile’s Reef” was held on Tuesday at Bourgeois Charters in Lafitte, LA. Friends and family were joined by officials from CCA, Shell, Jefferson Parish, the Town of Lafitte and LDWF to dedicate the reef.

“Very few have done more to conserve our fisheries and promote Louisiana’s culture than Theophile did,” said CCA Louisiana Executive Director/CEO David Cresson.  “He was a giant in our industry and a friend to all who knew him. CCA is proud to honor him in this way.”

CCA’s Westbank Chapter and Jefferson Parish worked together on the decision to honor Bourgeois with this project. Bourgeois was a beloved family man, a successful charter operator of the world-renowned Bourgeois Charters, an influential conservationist and a longtime supporter of CCA and other important coastal initiatives. He died tragically in 2019 during a seaplane accident. Bourgeois was recognized for his heroic actions during the incident which led to the survival of his passengers.


Theophile Bourgeois IV, the son of the late Theophile Bourgeois, addresses the large crowd of friends, family and media members who attended the dedication ceremony on Tuesday.

“This is an incredible day,” said Theophile Bourgeois IV.  “My dad taught us to respect our natural resources and to do what we could to give back to this coast. I’m proud to pass along those same lessons to my sons, and one day my grandkids, and to be able to tell them stories about their grandpa.”

Bourgeois then reflected on the moment he became aware of the plan to name this reef after his father.

“When Councilman (Ricky) Templet called to ask if they could honor dad with this reef, I was absolutely blown away,” he continued.  “My family is deeply touched by this, and we feel it is a perfect way to honor a man who lived every moment to the fullest.  Now, through this reef, he will live on forever.”

Templet, a member of the Jefferson Parish Council, explained why this project is important, and how it came to be.

“We identified a need to rebuild our oyster reefs in Jefferson Parish, especially after the devastation we suffered in this area due to Hurricane Ida,” said Templet.  “I immediately thought about CCA and their reef program, so we sat down with CCA about a year ago to discuss the idea for this project. Now, due to the efforts of these great partners, that vision is becoming a reality.”

“Theophile’s Reef” was built in an old fishing hotspot in Hackberry Bay where oyster habitat has been degraded in recent years. The new reef consists of roughly 1400 tons of limestone spread over roughly 2-acres. CCA expects that it will become excellent new habitat for oysters, redfish, trout and other marine species.  

“The area we chose was once a vibrant oyster habitat, but over the years, that habitat has degraded,” said CCA VP of Habitat John Walther.  “We would expect this reef to support marine life very soon, including providing an attachment point for oysters. Not long after that, we would expect small baitfish, sportfish and other species to begin utilizing this reef as critical habitat.”

Funding for the project was provided by CCA’s Building Conservation Trust, Shell, Jefferson Parish and LDWF’s Artificial Reef Trust Fund. In-kind materials and construction was provided by Madere & Sons Towing.

Joni Tuck, Shell’s Corporate Relations Advisor, Deepwater Gulf of Mexico, says her company is proud to partner on important conservation projects like this one. 

“Shell is proud of our longstanding partnership with CCA and the Building Conservation Trust, and we are particularly proud to play a role in honoring Captain Theophile,” said Tuck. “On behalf of thousands of Shell employees who live, work, and fish along Louisiana’s bountiful coast, we appreciate the opportunity to participate in this special project alongside the partners who helped make it possible.”

Mike McDonough, Artificial Reef Coordinator for LDWF, was on hand to oversee deployment, and to express the Department’s appreciation to everyone involved.

“The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries would like to thank CCA, Shell, Jefferson Parish, Madere & Sons, and all the partners who came together to make this happen,” said McDonough. “There is a tremendous amount of work that goes into planning projects like this, and we are proud to see it come together as well as this one has today.”

After the dedication ceremony, many of those in attendance took a boat ride to watch reef construction begin. At one point, Theophile IV directed the passengers on all of the other boats to look toward the eastern sky. When they did, they saw a Bourgeois Charters seaplane approaching the reef site. Participants were treated to a ceremonial fly-over, a moment that caught many by surprise, but was a perfect and emotional tribute.

“Theophile IV kept that a secret, but I can’t think of a more perfect way to cap off this special morning,” said David Cresson. “I got choked up watching that plane approach, and we were all overcome by emotion when it made multiple passes over the reef. It was just awesome.”

Cresson also said that he heard Theophile IV yell to the other boats at that moment that his dad was “looking down and smiling.”

“Theophile’s Reef” is the 5th project completed by CCA in the past 5 weeks, and the 46th CCA reef overall. Recent projects include the Finfish II Reef in Big Lake (April), the Jacob Meek Reef in SouthTimbalier 165 (May), the South Timbalier 77 Reef (May), the Pickets Reef Expansion in Ship Shoal 26 (May) and the South Marsh Island 235 Reef (June). 

The GPS coordinates for “Theophile’s Reef’ are 29°25’02.0”N, -90°01’05.0”W. Get more information about CCA’s Reef Louisiana Program or learn about CCA’s previous projects.