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

Brittle Naiad

Brittle naiad (Najas minor) seems to prefer to grow within strands of other vegetation. Find these bright green clumps and flip into them. The plants are brittle and hangups will be less frequent.

Brittle Naiad

Seasonal Techniques

Spring—Reliant mostly on seed for growth, this species germinates early in the spring and begins forming bushy patches. Being very brittle, you can fish nearly any technique through this species without hang-ups during spring. Yo-yo a trap or swimbait through stands of brittle naiad in spring.

Summer—Brittle naiad will being rapid growth in summer and produce new seed in August. Brittle naiad seems to prefer to grow within stands of other vegetation and will be found intermixed with all other species, often resembling bright green clumps amidst others. Find these bright green clumps and flip into them. The plants are brittle and hangups will be less frequent.

Fall—Brittle naiad begins to break up rapidly in the fall, much earlier than other species, so large stands of the plant will seem to disappear, opening up water more readily than other species.

Winter—Brittle naiad will die completely back, leaving only seed behind.

Habitat Value

Fish—Brittle naiad tends to grow among other species of vegetation, thus promoting habitat in transition zones between species.

Waterfowl—N/A

Identifying Features

What It Looks Like—Like other naiads, leaves are opposing and submersed. Brittle naiad leaves appear toothy and bushy, resembling bright green clumps in water.

Where to Find It—Look for brittle naiad in stagnant or slow-moving water, growing among other species. This species can be finicky, changing in distribution from year to year. The plant seems to grow well during years with little rain.

Max Depth—0 to 5 feet

Similar Species—Sago pondweed, which also can appear bushy, has alternating leaves, whereas brittle naiad has opposing leaves and is toothy in appearance.

Drawbacks

Invasive brittle naiad can grow to nuisance levels causing water use problems, but is relatively easy to manage if done before seed is produced. Cost to manage: $$ out of $$$$$.

Shoreline Plants

Brittle Naiad

Brittle naiad (Najas minor) seems to prefer to grow within strands of other vegetation. Find these bright green clumps and flip into them. The plants are brittle and hangups will be less frequent.

Brittle Naiad

Seasonal Techniques

Spring—Reliant mostly on seed for growth, this species germinates early in the spring and begins forming bushy patches. Being very brittle, you can fish nearly any technique through this species without hang-ups during spring. Yo-yo a trap or swimbait through stands of brittle naiad in spring.

Summer—Brittle naiad will being rapid growth in summer and produce new seed in August. Brittle naiad seems to prefer to grow within stands of other vegetation and will be found intermixed with all other species, often resembling bright green clumps amidst others. Find these bright green clumps and flip into them. The plants are brittle and hangups will be less frequent.

Fall—Brittle naiad begins to break up rapidly in the fall, much earlier than other species, so large stands of the plant will seem to disappear, opening up water more readily than other species.

Winter—Brittle naiad will die completely back, leaving only seed behind.

Habitat Value

Fish—Brittle naiad tends to grow among other species of vegetation, thus promoting habitat in transition zones between species.

Waterfowl—N/A

Identifying Features

What It Looks Like—Like other naiads, leaves are opposing and submersed. Brittle naiad leaves appear toothy and bushy, resembling bright green clumps in water.

Where to Find It—Look for brittle naiad in stagnant or slow-moving water, growing among other species. This species can be finicky, changing in distribution from year to year. The plant seems to grow well during years with little rain.

Max Depth—0 to 5 feet

Similar Species—Sago pondweed, which also can appear bushy, has alternating leaves, whereas brittle naiad has opposing leaves and is toothy in appearance.

Drawbacks

Invasive brittle naiad can grow to nuisance levels causing water use problems, but is relatively easy to manage if done before seed is produced. Cost to manage: $$ out of $$$$$.

Submersed Plants

Brittle Naiad

Brittle naiad (Najas minor) seems to prefer to grow within strands of other vegetation. Find these bright green clumps and flip into them. The plants are brittle and hangups will be less frequent.

Brittle Naiad

Seasonal Techniques

Spring—Reliant mostly on seed for growth, this species germinates early in the spring and begins forming bushy patches. Being very brittle, you can fish nearly any technique through this species without hang-ups during spring. Yo-yo a trap or swimbait through stands of brittle naiad in spring.

Summer—Brittle naiad will being rapid growth in summer and produce new seed in August. Brittle naiad seems to prefer to grow within stands of other vegetation and will be found intermixed with all other species, often resembling bright green clumps amidst others. Find these bright green clumps and flip into them. The plants are brittle and hangups will be less frequent.

Fall—Brittle naiad begins to break up rapidly in the fall, much earlier than other species, so large stands of the plant will seem to disappear, opening up water more readily than other species.

Winter—Brittle naiad will die completely back, leaving only seed behind.

Habitat Value

Fish—Brittle naiad tends to grow among other species of vegetation, thus promoting habitat in transition zones between species.

Waterfowl—N/A

Identifying Features

What It Looks Like—Like other naiads, leaves are opposing and submersed. Brittle naiad leaves appear toothy and bushy, resembling bright green clumps in water.

Where to Find It—Look for brittle naiad in stagnant or slow-moving water, growing among other species. This species can be finicky, changing in distribution from year to year. The plant seems to grow well during years with little rain.

Max Depth—0 to 5 feet

Similar Species—Sago pondweed, which also can appear bushy, has alternating leaves, whereas brittle naiad has opposing leaves and is toothy in appearance.

Drawbacks

Invasive brittle naiad can grow to nuisance levels causing water use problems, but is relatively easy to manage if done before seed is produced. 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.