If you can identify the common water weeds fish call home, your stringer will be a lot heavier.
Aquatic plants grow in every body of water we fish. Knowing what they are and why they’re there will help you become a more successful angler.
Here are the three worlds of the aquatic weed bed:
Coontail is native to Florida, but it is found across the U.S. and Canada. This is a free-floating aquatic plant with no roots. It has sharp-toothed stems and rough-textured leaves, which make it easy to identify.
Since it’s found in dense stands, it’s an easy ambush spot for predatory fish like bass and northern pike.
Hydrilla verticillata was likely introduced into the Florida ecosystem via Tampa Bay or Miami as an aquarium plant in the 1950s. It invaded the rest of the state and is there to stay. You can find it from the Carolinas to Connecticut, and west from California to Washington.
Hydrilla forms dense mats, which create effective cover for bass and their prey.
3. Illinois Pondweed
The pondweed is a rooted plant, and it grows equally well in fast-moving or slow water. It is similarly adapted to grow in deep or shallow lakes and ponds. Often referred to as “cabbage weed,” it is one of the more difficult species to identify.
Pondweed remains green and lush throughout the growing season and is a magnet for pike and muskie.
4. Eurasian Milfoil
Every angler needs to be able to identify this invasive species. It can live in a wide variety of water conditions and often causes large infestations. It grows in most U.S. states, British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec. Decaying mats of this intruder can negatively affect birds and fish by shading out native species and reducing oxygen levels.
It can certainly house fish, but check your boat! Don’t take this intruder with you to the next lake.
5. Water Lily
Two types of lilies are generally present in the water we fish: yellow pond lily and white pond lily. They are typically found on lakes and ponds with shallower, softer bottoms and backwater areas.
This species is a prime ambush point for predators who like to isolate themselves on the edges of a large pad field.
6. Wild Rice
Wild rice is a major source of food for migratory birds, aquatic mammals, and even moose! It provides cover for many prey species like minnows and frogs. It has a long stem with a loose head and prefers the silty, soft bottoms of lakes and ponds.
Fishing it requires patience and a heavy line. Weedless is the way to go, but with time spent here, the reward can be awesome.
These tall, grassy plants can sometimes dominate a pond or other waterway. Bulrush can grow several feet out of the water, and they have soft stems in a light green color.
They prefer the harder, sandy bottom located near deeper water, which makes them prime cover for larger species of hunting fish.
These are among the most common of all aquatic plants. The cattail can reach heights of over eight feet and can dominate marshes and ponds. It might be the easiest species to identify because of their cylindrical flower stems, and they provide cover for many aquatic animals and bird species.
Cattails are best pitched or flipped with heavy braided line tipped with a jig-and-pig or lizard combination.
Weeds aren’t just those pesky plants you avoid pulling out of your yard. Anglers everywhere need to identify these water weeds as areas to target from the boat or to avoid if invasive.
Knowing these weeds can help you put more fish in the boat and stop the spread of the non-native plants that can disrupt our natural waterways.
Remember to check your boat and fishing gear so invasive plants don’t become a problem for other ecosystems.