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

Brazilian Elodea

Invasive Brazilian elodea (Egeria densa) is a canopy former, so if you can get a bait through the top, there are many openings below that can hold big fish. Tie on some heavy tungsten and do your best to get down to the fish.

Brazilian Elodea

Seasonal Techniques

Spring—Acting much like an evergreen, this species will come back from existing plants in spring and even begin flowering in late spring. Brazilian elodea will grow rapidly, often creating some of the first large mats to fish. Fish a swimbait around clearly defined weed edges.

Summer—Invasive Brazilian elodea will begin growing profusely during summer, creating dense, tangled mats on the water’s surface. Dense mat formation will make fishing Brazilian elodea tough. Tie on some heavy tungsten and do your best to get a bait down to the fish. This species is a canopy former, so if you can get a bait through the top, there are many openings below that can hold big fish.

Fall—Brazilian elodea will briefly begin another flush of growth in fall while other plants are beginning to die back, also beginning a second cycle of flowering. A second growth spurt will mean that this plant will still be growing while others are not. Brazlian elodea can hold that frog bite much later into the fall and early winter while others mats are breaking up.

Winter—Plants will persist throughout winter as dormant root crowns. Hanging around through winter, Brazilian elodea can provide some structure while many other plants will be gone until spring.

Habitat Value

Fish—Brazilian elodea forms large colonies, especially along the main river channel, which offer an open understory for fish.

Waterfowl—N/A

Identifying Features

What It Looks Like—Leaves are large, pointed and whorled around the stem, often appearing dark green or even purple.

Where to Find It—Look for Brazilian elodea on main lake points and along the river where flow is increased. Long linear beds of the plant seem to always show up in the riverine section of the reservoirs in which it exists.

Max Depth—0 to 10 feet

Similar Species—Brazilian elodea looks very similar to hydrilla; however hydrilla leaves have teeth that can be seen with the naked eye and Brazilian elodea is typically much larger than hydrilla in appearance. Canadian elodea is also similar but much smaller and more “whimpy” looking.

Drawbacks

Invasive Brazilian elodea commonly causes issues with water use and is very often managed as a result. The ability of the plant to spread and rapidly grow makes it very expensive to manage. Cost to manage: $$$$ out of $$$$$.

Shoreline Plants

Brazilian Elodea

Invasive Brazilian elodea (Egeria densa) is a canopy former, so if you can get a bait through the top, there are many openings below that can hold big fish. Tie on some heavy tungsten and do your best to get down to the fish.

Brazilian Elodea

Seasonal Techniques

Spring—Acting much like an evergreen, this species will come back from existing plants in spring and even begin flowering in late spring. Brazilian elodea will grow rapidly, often creating some of the first large mats to fish. Fish a swimbait around clearly defined weed edges.

Summer—Invasive Brazilian elodea will begin growing profusely during summer, creating dense, tangled mats on the water’s surface. Dense mat formation will make fishing Brazilian elodea tough. Tie on some heavy tungsten and do your best to get a bait down to the fish. This species is a canopy former, so if you can get a bait through the top, there are many openings below that can hold big fish.

Fall—Brazilian elodea will briefly begin another flush of growth in fall while other plants are beginning to die back, also beginning a second cycle of flowering. A second growth spurt will mean that this plant will still be growing while others are not. Brazlian elodea can hold that frog bite much later into the fall and early winter while others mats are breaking up.

Winter—Plants will persist throughout winter as dormant root crowns. Hanging around through winter, Brazilian elodea can provide some structure while many other plants will be gone until spring.

Habitat Value

Fish—Brazilian elodea forms large colonies, especially along the main river channel, which offer an open understory for fish.

Waterfowl—N/A

Identifying Features

What It Looks Like—Leaves are large, pointed and whorled around the stem, often appearing dark green or even purple.

Where to Find It—Look for Brazilian elodea on main lake points and along the river where flow is increased. Long linear beds of the plant seem to always show up in the riverine section of the reservoirs in which it exists.

Max Depth—0 to 10 feet

Similar Species—Brazilian elodea looks very similar to hydrilla; however hydrilla leaves have teeth that can be seen with the naked eye and Brazilian elodea is typically much larger than hydrilla in appearance. Canadian elodea is also similar but much smaller and more “whimpy” looking.

Drawbacks

Invasive Brazilian elodea commonly causes issues with water use and is very often managed as a result. The ability of the plant to spread and rapidly grow makes it very expensive to manage. Cost to manage: $$$$ out of $$$$$.

Submersed Plants

Brazilian Elodea

Invasive Brazilian elodea (Egeria densa) is a canopy former, so if you can get a bait through the top, there are many openings below that can hold big fish. Tie on some heavy tungsten and do your best to get down to the fish.

Brazilian Elodea

Seasonal Techniques

Spring—Acting much like an evergreen, this species will come back from existing plants in spring and even begin flowering in late spring. Brazilian elodea will grow rapidly, often creating some of the first large mats to fish. Fish a swimbait around clearly defined weed edges.

Summer—Invasive Brazilian elodea will begin growing profusely during summer, creating dense, tangled mats on the water’s surface. Dense mat formation will make fishing Brazilian elodea tough. Tie on some heavy tungsten and do your best to get a bait down to the fish. This species is a canopy former, so if you can get a bait through the top, there are many openings below that can hold big fish.

Fall—Brazilian elodea will briefly begin another flush of growth in fall while other plants are beginning to die back, also beginning a second cycle of flowering. A second growth spurt will mean that this plant will still be growing while others are not. Brazlian elodea can hold that frog bite much later into the fall and early winter while others mats are breaking up.

Winter—Plants will persist throughout winter as dormant root crowns. Hanging around through winter, Brazilian elodea can provide some structure while many other plants will be gone until spring.

Habitat Value

Fish—Brazilian elodea forms large colonies, especially along the main river channel, which offer an open understory for fish.

Waterfowl—N/A

Identifying Features

What It Looks Like—Leaves are large, pointed and whorled around the stem, often appearing dark green or even purple.

Where to Find It—Look for Brazilian elodea on main lake points and along the river where flow is increased. Long linear beds of the plant seem to always show up in the riverine section of the reservoirs in which it exists.

Max Depth—0 to 10 feet

Similar Species—Brazilian elodea looks very similar to hydrilla; however hydrilla leaves have teeth that can be seen with the naked eye and Brazilian elodea is typically much larger than hydrilla in appearance. Canadian elodea is also similar but much smaller and more “whimpy” looking.

Drawbacks

Invasive Brazilian elodea commonly causes issues with water use and is very often managed as a result. The ability of the plant to spread and rapidly grow makes it very expensive to manage. Cost to manage: $$$$ out of $$$$$.

Managing Aquatic Plants

Invasive plant species like hydrilla and milfoil can make for great edge fishing, but when found smack dab in front of your favorite boat ramp can keep you and others from even being able to enjoy the reservoir at all! A “drawbacks” section within each plant species page highlights the need to manage these plants in certain situations, and provides a relative cost scale from low ($) to high ($$$$$).

You may encounter TVA or its contractors managing aquatic plants in small, developed public access areas (such as boat ramps) at its reservoirs. TVA manages aquatic plants on an as-needed basis to improve public access to its reservoirs. Learn more about how TVA manages aquatic plants.

Aquatic Weeds Treatment Schedule

Learn when TVA contractors will be in your area using harvesters or EPA-approved herbicides to control the overgrowth of invasive aquatic plants. View the most recent schedule.

Valley Lakes Worth Billions

A new study by TVA and the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture has found that the economic impact to the region of TVA's reservoir system is nearly $12 billion each year, and that it contributes 130,000 jobs. Managing aquatic weeds is one way to make sure recreation proceeds unhindered. Read more about this groundbreaking study.

Further Reading

For more information on aquatic plants on Guntersville—or in general—read three stories by Bassmaster columnist and program manager of TVA Aquatic Plant Management Brett Hartis: “Bass and Grass on Guntersville,” “ Secrets of Fall Bass in the Grass” and “Where Has All the Grass Gone?”.

Contact Us

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.