Aquatic Veggies

Aquatic vegetation is one sign of a productive body of water. It indicates plenty of nutrients and high fertility. Various types of vegetation in water may serve as food for microscopic insects, spawning habitat, and nurseries for larval fish. Large water plants provide shade and both protective cover for small fish, and ambush points for predators.

Because of this, many anglers, especially bass anglers, love what they have named “salad.” Bassmaster Elite Jonathan VanDam seeks “cabbage.” Gerald Swindle is fond of something he calls “witches’ hair.” And power anglers never pass up a chance to “punch grass.”

However, you can have too much of a good thing. If water “weeds” are too aggressive, there can be dire complications with oxygen levels. Plus, a lack of open water, or constantly reeling in masses of the green stuff on lures can be frustrating for anglers.

There are three ways fisheries managers can control aquatic vegetation. An example of a mechanical method is a large specialized rake. Some states stock sterile grass carp as a biological method of controlling vegetation. Still other managers use chemicals to recover balance.

Steve Hanson of Professional Lake Management battles the invasive Eurasian Water Milfoil in Michigan lakes with a combination of mechanical and chemical methods. Applications of selective and safe chemicals suppress this aggressive plant and improve the fisheries.

Landowners of watersheds can assist by limiting nutrient runoff into the system. One efficient method is by planting buffer strips to greatly slow down water movement and allow for settling.

But sometimes, anglers just have to adjust their techniques to work around, over, or through excessive weeds. Topwater lures such as frogs can bring explosions from bass in the densest cover. Most soft-plastic lures can be rigged “weedless” with the hook buried in the lure until hook set. There are even small plastic cones that can be rigged above these lures to reduce hang-up of weeds. Braided line is a great tool for battling in the “slop” because it is strong enough to cut through most aquatic vegetation stems.

These tips should help you keep fishing in thick weeds, at least until I get my moose and manatee rental operation off the ground.

Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb

Andy is an outdoor writer ( and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.