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In the fall, as annual submersed species begin to die off, pockets of coontail (Ceratopyllum demersum) may continue to hold fish. Try a fishing a frog or a rat around this hearty native plant.


Seasonal Techniques

Spring—A submersed perennial, this plant will begin growth in spring from seed produced the previous year. Once germinated, the plant will break off and float to the surface, never forming any roots. Unlike many of the other submersed species, this lack of roots makes coontail highly mobile. The plant is actually free-floating, so wind shifts and currents can move entire populations in spring. Key in more on rooted plants creating permanent cover during spring.

Summer—Like most other plants, coontail will grow at maximum rates in summer. Having no roots, coontail gets its nutrients directly from the water. As other species begin to establish, coontail can be found floating or trapped in mud among other plant beds. Fish the holes created by the transition among species with a flipping bait. Coontail is a good producer of oxygen, so vital during summer months.

Fall—Unlike many annuals, coontail will stick around during the fall months, floating wherever the current takes it. Find those same beds leftover from summer, but beware as current can easily move them. As other annual submersed species begin to die off, pockets of coontail may continue to hold fish. Try a frog or rat around hearty coontail.

Winter—Coontail will begin to break up in the harsh cold months of winter but some isolated pockets may stick around. Find isolated patches that make it through winter and fish them.

Habitat Value

Fish—The mobile nature of coontail makes it hard to determine what purpose it may serve as habitat, however trapped portions within beds of other species create some transition zones.


Identifying Features

What It Looks Like—Very similar to milfoil and fanwort; however the leaves are branched—almost resembling antlers—and not fanned out like fanwort.

Where to Find It—Coontail will float wherever the wind or current will take it. You will often find this plant intermixed with other species that grow around it and hold it in place. Look for coontail on the outside edges of existing plant beds.

Similar Species—Milfoils, fanwort.


Native coontail rarely impacts water use in reservoirs. Cost to manage: $ out of $$$$$.

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We're always looking for more information about aquatic plants on TVA reservoirs. Let us know where and what you see, and send us your photos. Email us.