Angler's Aquatic Plant ID

Want to be a better fisherman? Learn smart, season-based strategies for fishing the “weeds.”

Across the country, they go by different names. Valley anglers often refer to them collectively as “weeds,” “grass,” or “moss.” Whatever you call them, aquatic plants are an integral part of the Tennessee River’s ecosystem, whether providing nutrients for the species at the bottom of the food chain, or cover and ambush areas for largemouth bass.

While many aquatic plants look the same, understanding the differences can make you a better bass fisherman. Whether you prefer to punch a jig, burn a lipless crankbait or fish a frog, this guide to aquatic plants in the Tennessee Valley can help you be the best angler you can be.

Developed by fishermen for fishermen, this guide gives you all the information you need to understand when these plants are most productive, where they grow and—most importantly—how to fish them. Whether you are a seasoned tournament angler, weekend warrior or new to fishing altogether, we invite you to learn more about aquatic plants and improve your catch.

Floating and Floating Leaf Plants

Bladderwort

Although not known as prime fishable vegetation, bladderwort (Utricularia sp.) can be found intermixed with newly emerging grass beds. The rootless plant will probably become more of a menace as you continually pick it out of your hook.

Bladderwort

Seasonal Techniques

Spring—A free-floating perennial plant with no roots, bladderwort grows from turions (bud-like structures) which had sunk to the bottom prior to winter. Once detached from the turions, bladderwort will rise to the water’s surface where it will begin its free-floating stage. Although not known as prime fishable vegetation, bladderwort can be found intermixed with newly emerging grass beds. The rootless plant will probably become more of a menace as you continually pick it out of your hook.

Summer—Bladderwort does not exhibit rapid growth like other plants during summer, but will free float within the water gathering nutrients from digested prey in it’s bladder structures. Negligible fishing benefit.

Fall—Bladderwort will begin the formation of turions, which will ensure that it survives until the next spring. Negligible fishing benefit.

Winter—Vegetative portions will die back and formed turions will sink the plant to the bottom, where it will remain dormant until the following spring. Negligible fishing benefit.

Habitat Value

Fish—Although not often found in abundance, some species of fish will use bladderwort as refuge or a place to lay eggs.

Waterfowl—Not noted as a primary waterfowl food; however invertebrates consumed by waterfowl may be found within bladderwort and other mixed vegetation.

Identifying Features

What It Looks Like—Bladderwort is a carnivorous plant, making it unique among other species of this guide. The plant is very easily identified by it’s tiny bladder structures which catch and digest prey.

Where to Find It—Bladderwort prefers stagnant backwater where it can easily catch prey as it swims by.

Max Depth—0 to 5 feet

Similar Species—N/A

Drawbacks

Native bladderwort very seldom causes issues in the large reservoir systems of the Tennessee Valley. Cost to manage: $ out of $$$$$.

Shoreline Plants

Bladderwort

Although not known as prime fishable vegetation, bladderwort (Utricularia sp.) can be found intermixed with newly emerging grass beds. The rootless plant will probably become more of a menace as you continually pick it out of your hook.

Bladderwort

Seasonal Techniques

Spring—A free-floating perennial plant with no roots, bladderwort grows from turions (bud-like structures) which had sunk to the bottom prior to winter. Once detached from the turions, bladderwort will rise to the water’s surface where it will begin its free-floating stage. Although not known as prime fishable vegetation, bladderwort can be found intermixed with newly emerging grass beds. The rootless plant will probably become more of a menace as you continually pick it out of your hook.

Summer—Bladderwort does not exhibit rapid growth like other plants during summer, but will free float within the water gathering nutrients from digested prey in it’s bladder structures. Negligible fishing benefit.

Fall—Bladderwort will begin the formation of turions, which will ensure that it survives until the next spring. Negligible fishing benefit.

Winter—Vegetative portions will die back and formed turions will sink the plant to the bottom, where it will remain dormant until the following spring. Negligible fishing benefit.

Habitat Value

Fish—Although not often found in abundance, some species of fish will use bladderwort as refuge or a place to lay eggs.

Waterfowl—Not noted as a primary waterfowl food; however invertebrates consumed by waterfowl may be found within bladderwort and other mixed vegetation.

Identifying Features

What It Looks Like—Bladderwort is a carnivorous plant, making it unique among other species of this guide. The plant is very easily identified by it’s tiny bladder structures which catch and digest prey.

Where to Find It—Bladderwort prefers stagnant backwater where it can easily catch prey as it swims by.

Max Depth—0 to 5 feet

Similar Species—N/A

Drawbacks

Native bladderwort very seldom causes issues in the large reservoir systems of the Tennessee Valley. Cost to manage: $ out of $$$$$.

Submersed Plants

Bladderwort

Although not known as prime fishable vegetation, bladderwort (Utricularia sp.) can be found intermixed with newly emerging grass beds. The rootless plant will probably become more of a menace as you continually pick it out of your hook.

Bladderwort

Seasonal Techniques

Spring—A free-floating perennial plant with no roots, bladderwort grows from turions (bud-like structures) which had sunk to the bottom prior to winter. Once detached from the turions, bladderwort will rise to the water’s surface where it will begin its free-floating stage. Although not known as prime fishable vegetation, bladderwort can be found intermixed with newly emerging grass beds. The rootless plant will probably become more of a menace as you continually pick it out of your hook.

Summer—Bladderwort does not exhibit rapid growth like other plants during summer, but will free float within the water gathering nutrients from digested prey in it’s bladder structures. Negligible fishing benefit.

Fall—Bladderwort will begin the formation of turions, which will ensure that it survives until the next spring. Negligible fishing benefit.

Winter—Vegetative portions will die back and formed turions will sink the plant to the bottom, where it will remain dormant until the following spring. Negligible fishing benefit.

Habitat Value

Fish—Although not often found in abundance, some species of fish will use bladderwort as refuge or a place to lay eggs.

Waterfowl—Not noted as a primary waterfowl food; however invertebrates consumed by waterfowl may be found within bladderwort and other mixed vegetation.

Identifying Features

What It Looks Like—Bladderwort is a carnivorous plant, making it unique among other species of this guide. The plant is very easily identified by it’s tiny bladder structures which catch and digest prey.

Where to Find It—Bladderwort prefers stagnant backwater where it can easily catch prey as it swims by.

Max Depth—0 to 5 feet

Similar Species—N/A

Drawbacks

Native bladderwort very seldom causes issues in the large reservoir systems of the Tennessee Valley. Cost to manage: $ out of $$$$$.