Weeds, Grass, and Other Vegetation

For years, anglers have been plagued with all types of vegetation growth in lakes, rivers, reservoirs, and off-shore. But, realizing the benefits of plant habitat for fish, anglers have adapted fishing styles and techniques to work with the grass, rather than letting it deter them from their favorite sport. Plant life is vital in the food chain, and it offers many fish a good place to hang out. Plants in lakes, referred to as cover, are typically categorized as floating, emergent, and submergent growth. Floating plants offer a canopy of shaded cover, but will not limit fish movement underneath it’s thick mat, because it has no stems or vines attached to the lake bottom. It is free floating, and will collect in pockets, coves, or attach itself to other grassy or woody cover. Hyacinths, water cabbage, and duckweed are found on many waterways throughout the United States. Water Hyacinths have dark, shiny leaves with bluish-white flowers, and multiply very quickly. One plant can multiply to several thousand plants in just one season, blocking off many coves, boat lanes, and whole areas of lakes. Hyacinth is not much of a problem to fish, but it is a problem plant to control growth. Duckweed, on the other hand, poses more of a problem for anglers to penetrate the thick mat, than it does in growth control. Floating, weedless lures are best for fishing this type of cover. Sometimes, heavy baits can be punched through Duckweed growth with good results. Submergent plants build up beneath the surface of waterways. Common submergent plants are hydrilla, coontail, and milfoil. Most submergent plants are fast growing vines that form a thick mat on top of the water, but are not near as dense below the surface. Pockets, trails, and holes will be distinct on the surface, and can be fished through the surface mat. Techniques employed for fishing submergent cover that is matted on top is the jig/craw, Texas rigged worm, and floating lures. When these vines are not matted on top, a crankbait, spinnerbait, slug type jerk bait, topwater, or other moving lure can draw some very reactive, vicious strikes, by running the lure just over the top of the grass. Emergent vegetation is rooted on the bottom, but also offers plant life above the water. Examples of emergent growth are cattails, maidencane, reeds, bulrushes, and lily pads. These plants give fish cover from above, but allow them to move freely through the stalks and stems, remaining hidden from above. Some emergent plants are better fished with heavy lures using a flip/pitch technique to reach back into the weeds, such as cattails, and bulrushes. Lily pads are better penetrated by using a floating lure, spoon, or Texas rig with light sinker. Bass will move to the outside edges, capitalizing on the small baitfish that wander down the outside edges. Casting parallel to the weedline outside edges can entice many bass to the outside edge, that were previously tucked away just inside the emergent growth. Weed growth usually has distinct growing lines, and generally start at the shore and extend out several feet. How far they grow from shore and stop, is dictated by depth, light penetration, oxygen, ph, soil composition, and fertility. Topographical breaklines will, often times, give way to two or more different weeds that are a natural attraction to bass on the prowl. Prey will skirt the outside edges, while the bass lays in waiting, stealthily hiding just inside the weedline. Weeds give bass numerous advantages in foraging for food, and can also give the wise angler fishing advantages that will reward efforts time and time again. Whether lake vegetation is floating, submergent, or emergent, they all give bass a great hiding place to hang out. Rather than getting frustrated with weed growth, learn techniques that will prove to be a more productive fishing day. Sherry Ruslink is a freelance outdoor writer, professional angler, licensed guide on Lake Fork, and owner of Anglers Educational Seminars, specializing in lady angler education. She may be reached at 817-572-3675, 903-473-1016, email: ladybass@onramp.net, and homepage: http://www.texs.com/ladybass

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