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

Canadian Elodea

Emerging in early spring from overwintering buds, tender Canadian elodea (Elodea canadensis) sprouts are perfect to target with a rattle-trap. Though it's not as aggressive as other plants, Canadian elodea provides a transition zone that should not be overlooked.

Canadian Elodea

Seasonal Techniques

Spring—Emerging in early spring from overwintering buds, tender Canadian elodea sprouts are perfect to target with a rattle-trap. While other plants around it are beginning to grow aggressively, Canadian elodea provides a transition zone that should not be overlooked.

Summer—Like most other plants, growth will increase during summer. Canadian elodea growth may be less noticed in southeastern reservoirs as other plants dominate. Being much more “whimpy” than other species, punching and ripping through Canadian elodea is much easier to accomplish than through similar species like hydrilla and Brazilian elodea.

Fall—Canadian elodea will often be some of the first perennial species to begin to die back. Look for holes back in behind thick stands of hydrilla where the canopy has opened up.  

Winter—Canadian elodea will die back and rarely leave much to stick around during winter.

Habitat Value

Fish—Provides good habitat and safety structure for fry and juvenile sport fish, as well as a refuge for baitfish.

Waterfowl—Can provide key food for waterfowl, however occurrence of Canadian elodea in the Tennessee Valley makes its impact minimal.

Identifying Features

What It Looks Like—Smaller, pointed leaves whorled around the stem, most often in sets of the three.

Where to Find It—In TVA reservoirs, Canadian elodea can be hard to find. Look for cool water springs and blue holes in the backs of creeks.

Max Depth—0 to 5 feet

Similar Species—Canadian elodea resembles Brazilian elodea and hydrilla. All of them have leaves in whorls around the stem. However, Canadian elodea has three leaves per whorl, whereas hydrilla and Brazilian elodea almost always have more than three leaves per whorl.

Drawbacks

As a native species, Canadian elodea very rarely becomes a problem in TVA reservoirs. Cost to manage: $ out of $$$$$.

Shoreline Plants

Canadian Elodea

Emerging in early spring from overwintering buds, tender Canadian elodea (Elodea canadensis) sprouts are perfect to target with a rattle-trap. Though it's not as aggressive as other plants, Canadian elodea provides a transition zone that should not be overlooked.

Canadian Elodea

Seasonal Techniques

Spring—Emerging in early spring from overwintering buds, tender Canadian elodea sprouts are perfect to target with a rattle-trap. While other plants around it are beginning to grow aggressively, Canadian elodea provides a transition zone that should not be overlooked.

Summer—Like most other plants, growth will increase during summer. Canadian elodea growth may be less noticed in southeastern reservoirs as other plants dominate. Being much more “whimpy” than other species, punching and ripping through Canadian elodea is much easier to accomplish than through similar species like hydrilla and Brazilian elodea.

Fall—Canadian elodea will often be some of the first perennial species to begin to die back. Look for holes back in behind thick stands of hydrilla where the canopy has opened up.  

Winter—Canadian elodea will die back and rarely leave much to stick around during winter.

Habitat Value

Fish—Provides good habitat and safety structure for fry and juvenile sport fish, as well as a refuge for baitfish.

Waterfowl—Can provide key food for waterfowl, however occurrence of Canadian elodea in the Tennessee Valley makes its impact minimal.

Identifying Features

What It Looks Like—Smaller, pointed leaves whorled around the stem, most often in sets of the three.

Where to Find It—In TVA reservoirs, Canadian elodea can be hard to find. Look for cool water springs and blue holes in the backs of creeks.

Max Depth—0 to 5 feet

Similar Species—Canadian elodea resembles Brazilian elodea and hydrilla. All of them have leaves in whorls around the stem. However, Canadian elodea has three leaves per whorl, whereas hydrilla and Brazilian elodea almost always have more than three leaves per whorl.

Drawbacks

As a native species, Canadian elodea very rarely becomes a problem in TVA reservoirs. Cost to manage: $ out of $$$$$.

Submersed Plants

Canadian Elodea

Emerging in early spring from overwintering buds, tender Canadian elodea (Elodea canadensis) sprouts are perfect to target with a rattle-trap. Though it's not as aggressive as other plants, Canadian elodea provides a transition zone that should not be overlooked.

Canadian Elodea

Seasonal Techniques

Spring—Emerging in early spring from overwintering buds, tender Canadian elodea sprouts are perfect to target with a rattle-trap. While other plants around it are beginning to grow aggressively, Canadian elodea provides a transition zone that should not be overlooked.

Summer—Like most other plants, growth will increase during summer. Canadian elodea growth may be less noticed in southeastern reservoirs as other plants dominate. Being much more “whimpy” than other species, punching and ripping through Canadian elodea is much easier to accomplish than through similar species like hydrilla and Brazilian elodea.

Fall—Canadian elodea will often be some of the first perennial species to begin to die back. Look for holes back in behind thick stands of hydrilla where the canopy has opened up.  

Winter—Canadian elodea will die back and rarely leave much to stick around during winter.

Habitat Value

Fish—Provides good habitat and safety structure for fry and juvenile sport fish, as well as a refuge for baitfish.

Waterfowl—Can provide key food for waterfowl, however occurrence of Canadian elodea in the Tennessee Valley makes its impact minimal.

Identifying Features

What It Looks Like—Smaller, pointed leaves whorled around the stem, most often in sets of the three.

Where to Find It—In TVA reservoirs, Canadian elodea can be hard to find. Look for cool water springs and blue holes in the backs of creeks.

Max Depth—0 to 5 feet

Similar Species—Canadian elodea resembles Brazilian elodea and hydrilla. All of them have leaves in whorls around the stem. However, Canadian elodea has three leaves per whorl, whereas hydrilla and Brazilian elodea almost always have more than three leaves per whorl.

Drawbacks

As a native species, Canadian elodea very rarely becomes a problem in TVA reservoirs. 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.