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

Frog's Bit

Mature frog's bit (Limnobium spongia) plants provide perfect cover for bass to ambush their prey. Flip a bait close to the stems of frog’s bit and hold on.

Frog's Bit

Seasonal Techniques

Spring—Frog’s bit will likely go unnoticed in spring as the perennial grows back from overwintering buds, floating to the water surface to sprout new growth. Frog’s bit won’t be easily found until summer, so targeting this species should be avoided until summer.

Summer—Like most other aquatic plants, frog’s bit will rapidly grow during summer and become much more noticeable both floating and rooted to nearshore areas. Mature plants provide perfect cover for bass to ambush their prey. Flip a bait close to the stems of frog’s bit and hold on. Mature plants will also send off runners, so fishing a bait on the bottom around mature plants can also yield bites as bass congregate around these structures.

Fall—Frog’s bit will begin to decay as the water cools, making for the perfect opportunity to fish areas that were previously too grown up to fish. Work a weedless topwater like a frog across and through decaying plants.

Winter—Frog’s bit will be completely gone by winter throughout most of the valley, so targeting this species should be avoided until the following growing season.

Habitat Value

Fish—Submersed portions (root mass) provides habitat for invertebrates that are subsequently eaten by fish. Frog’s bit can also provide ambush cover for bass when floating.

Waterfowl—Submersed portions (root mass) provides habitat for invertebrates that are subsequently eaten by waterfowl. Seeds are also readily consumed by waterfowl.

Identifying Features

What It Looks Like—Frog’s bit is a small, often free floating plant with small kidney- or heart-shaped leaves. Leaves will have elongated stems which occur in clumps, giving frog’s bit a “bouquet” look.

Where to Find It—Can be found floating or rooted closely to the shoreline.

Similar Species—Frog’s bit may resemble water hyacinth; however frog’s bit lacks the bulbous stem of water hyacinth. Water hyacinth roots are usually purple tinged whereas frog’s bit roots are white. Frog’s bit can also resemble fragrant water lily; however fragrant water lily has a distinct “v” notch in the leaf.

Drawbacks

Although native, frog’s bit can become a nuisance given the right growing conditions, and thus sometimes requires management. Cost to manage: $$$ out of $$$$$.

Shoreline Plants

Frog's Bit

Mature frog's bit (Limnobium spongia) plants provide perfect cover for bass to ambush their prey. Flip a bait close to the stems of frog’s bit and hold on.

Frog's Bit

Seasonal Techniques

Spring—Frog’s bit will likely go unnoticed in spring as the perennial grows back from overwintering buds, floating to the water surface to sprout new growth. Frog’s bit won’t be easily found until summer, so targeting this species should be avoided until summer.

Summer—Like most other aquatic plants, frog’s bit will rapidly grow during summer and become much more noticeable both floating and rooted to nearshore areas. Mature plants provide perfect cover for bass to ambush their prey. Flip a bait close to the stems of frog’s bit and hold on. Mature plants will also send off runners, so fishing a bait on the bottom around mature plants can also yield bites as bass congregate around these structures.

Fall—Frog’s bit will begin to decay as the water cools, making for the perfect opportunity to fish areas that were previously too grown up to fish. Work a weedless topwater like a frog across and through decaying plants.

Winter—Frog’s bit will be completely gone by winter throughout most of the valley, so targeting this species should be avoided until the following growing season.

Habitat Value

Fish—Submersed portions (root mass) provides habitat for invertebrates that are subsequently eaten by fish. Frog’s bit can also provide ambush cover for bass when floating.

Waterfowl—Submersed portions (root mass) provides habitat for invertebrates that are subsequently eaten by waterfowl. Seeds are also readily consumed by waterfowl.

Identifying Features

What It Looks Like—Frog’s bit is a small, often free floating plant with small kidney- or heart-shaped leaves. Leaves will have elongated stems which occur in clumps, giving frog’s bit a “bouquet” look.

Where to Find It—Can be found floating or rooted closely to the shoreline.

Similar Species—Frog’s bit may resemble water hyacinth; however frog’s bit lacks the bulbous stem of water hyacinth. Water hyacinth roots are usually purple tinged whereas frog’s bit roots are white. Frog’s bit can also resemble fragrant water lily; however fragrant water lily has a distinct “v” notch in the leaf.

Drawbacks

Although native, frog’s bit can become a nuisance given the right growing conditions, and thus sometimes requires management. Cost to manage: $$$ out of $$$$$.

Submersed Plants

Frog's Bit

Mature frog's bit (Limnobium spongia) plants provide perfect cover for bass to ambush their prey. Flip a bait close to the stems of frog’s bit and hold on.

Frog's Bit

Seasonal Techniques

Spring—Frog’s bit will likely go unnoticed in spring as the perennial grows back from overwintering buds, floating to the water surface to sprout new growth. Frog’s bit won’t be easily found until summer, so targeting this species should be avoided until summer.

Summer—Like most other aquatic plants, frog’s bit will rapidly grow during summer and become much more noticeable both floating and rooted to nearshore areas. Mature plants provide perfect cover for bass to ambush their prey. Flip a bait close to the stems of frog’s bit and hold on. Mature plants will also send off runners, so fishing a bait on the bottom around mature plants can also yield bites as bass congregate around these structures.

Fall—Frog’s bit will begin to decay as the water cools, making for the perfect opportunity to fish areas that were previously too grown up to fish. Work a weedless topwater like a frog across and through decaying plants.

Winter—Frog’s bit will be completely gone by winter throughout most of the valley, so targeting this species should be avoided until the following growing season.

Habitat Value

Fish—Submersed portions (root mass) provides habitat for invertebrates that are subsequently eaten by fish. Frog’s bit can also provide ambush cover for bass when floating.

Waterfowl—Submersed portions (root mass) provides habitat for invertebrates that are subsequently eaten by waterfowl. Seeds are also readily consumed by waterfowl.

Identifying Features

What It Looks Like—Frog’s bit is a small, often free floating plant with small kidney- or heart-shaped leaves. Leaves will have elongated stems which occur in clumps, giving frog’s bit a “bouquet” look.

Where to Find It—Can be found floating or rooted closely to the shoreline.

Similar Species—Frog’s bit may resemble water hyacinth; however frog’s bit lacks the bulbous stem of water hyacinth. Water hyacinth roots are usually purple tinged whereas frog’s bit roots are white. Frog’s bit can also resemble fragrant water lily; however fragrant water lily has a distinct “v” notch in the leaf.

Drawbacks

Although native, frog’s bit can become a nuisance given the right growing conditions, and thus sometimes requires management. 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.