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

Pickerelweed

As native pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) drops seed and begins to decay in fall, areas of open water will begin to open up around the thick stands left over from summer. Use a jig to pitch back into pockets formed between these stands.

Pickerelweed

Seasonal Techniques

Spring—Pickerelweed exist mostly as rhizomes throughout early spring, but new growth can lend to edge fishing around the shoreline. Use a soft plastic senko, lizard or fluke to pitch up around actively growing plants.

Summer—Pickerelweed will grow quickly in summer and begin to produce a beautiful purple flower, producing seed from early summer through fall. As the plants begin actively growing in summer, baitfish will begin to congregate nearby, feeding off of the invertebrates present among dispersed stands of pickerelweed. Bass will be nearby to pick off such schools of baitfish, so try fishing a swimbait or shallow running crankbait.

Fall—As fall progresses, seed pods will begin to droop, releasing floating seed into the nearby water. As pickerelweed drops seed and begins to decay, areas of open water will begin to open up around the thick stands left over from summer. Use a jig to pitch back into pockets formed between these stands.

Winter—Pickerelweed will exist mostly as a rhizome in winter, so targeting this particular species should be avoided until spring.

Habitat Value

Fish—Shoreline habitat for invertebrates can be created by pickerelweed, thus attracting baitfish and other species that bass readily feed on.

Waterfowl—The seeds of pickerelweed are readily consumed by waterfowl and other shoreline birds.

Identifying Features

What It Looks Like—Pickerelweed is easily identified by its long, oval leaves and prominent purple flower, which blooms throughout summer.

Where to Find It—Pickerelweed can be found most often dispersed in clumps in the back of coves and wetland areas around a reservoir.

Similar Species—Pickerelweed may resemble many shoreline species, however it’s distinctive purple flower sets it apart from other species.

Drawbacks

Pickerelweed rarely causes water use issues and is very seldom managed in a reservoir setting. Cost to manage: $ out of $$$$$.

Shoreline Plants

Pickerelweed

As native pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) drops seed and begins to decay in fall, areas of open water will begin to open up around the thick stands left over from summer. Use a jig to pitch back into pockets formed between these stands.

Pickerelweed

Seasonal Techniques

Spring—Pickerelweed exist mostly as rhizomes throughout early spring, but new growth can lend to edge fishing around the shoreline. Use a soft plastic senko, lizard or fluke to pitch up around actively growing plants.

Summer—Pickerelweed will grow quickly in summer and begin to produce a beautiful purple flower, producing seed from early summer through fall. As the plants begin actively growing in summer, baitfish will begin to congregate nearby, feeding off of the invertebrates present among dispersed stands of pickerelweed. Bass will be nearby to pick off such schools of baitfish, so try fishing a swimbait or shallow running crankbait.

Fall—As fall progresses, seed pods will begin to droop, releasing floating seed into the nearby water. As pickerelweed drops seed and begins to decay, areas of open water will begin to open up around the thick stands left over from summer. Use a jig to pitch back into pockets formed between these stands.

Winter—Pickerelweed will exist mostly as a rhizome in winter, so targeting this particular species should be avoided until spring.

Habitat Value

Fish—Shoreline habitat for invertebrates can be created by pickerelweed, thus attracting baitfish and other species that bass readily feed on.

Waterfowl—The seeds of pickerelweed are readily consumed by waterfowl and other shoreline birds.

Identifying Features

What It Looks Like—Pickerelweed is easily identified by its long, oval leaves and prominent purple flower, which blooms throughout summer.

Where to Find It—Pickerelweed can be found most often dispersed in clumps in the back of coves and wetland areas around a reservoir.

Similar Species—Pickerelweed may resemble many shoreline species, however it’s distinctive purple flower sets it apart from other species.

Drawbacks

Pickerelweed rarely causes water use issues and is very seldom managed in a reservoir setting. Cost to manage: $ out of $$$$$.

Submersed Plants

Pickerelweed

As native pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) drops seed and begins to decay in fall, areas of open water will begin to open up around the thick stands left over from summer. Use a jig to pitch back into pockets formed between these stands.

Pickerelweed

Seasonal Techniques

Spring—Pickerelweed exist mostly as rhizomes throughout early spring, but new growth can lend to edge fishing around the shoreline. Use a soft plastic senko, lizard or fluke to pitch up around actively growing plants.

Summer—Pickerelweed will grow quickly in summer and begin to produce a beautiful purple flower, producing seed from early summer through fall. As the plants begin actively growing in summer, baitfish will begin to congregate nearby, feeding off of the invertebrates present among dispersed stands of pickerelweed. Bass will be nearby to pick off such schools of baitfish, so try fishing a swimbait or shallow running crankbait.

Fall—As fall progresses, seed pods will begin to droop, releasing floating seed into the nearby water. As pickerelweed drops seed and begins to decay, areas of open water will begin to open up around the thick stands left over from summer. Use a jig to pitch back into pockets formed between these stands.

Winter—Pickerelweed will exist mostly as a rhizome in winter, so targeting this particular species should be avoided until spring.

Habitat Value

Fish—Shoreline habitat for invertebrates can be created by pickerelweed, thus attracting baitfish and other species that bass readily feed on.

Waterfowl—The seeds of pickerelweed are readily consumed by waterfowl and other shoreline birds.

Identifying Features

What It Looks Like—Pickerelweed is easily identified by its long, oval leaves and prominent purple flower, which blooms throughout summer.

Where to Find It—Pickerelweed can be found most often dispersed in clumps in the back of coves and wetland areas around a reservoir.

Similar Species—Pickerelweed may resemble many shoreline species, however it’s distinctive purple flower sets it apart from other species.

Drawbacks

Pickerelweed rarely causes water use issues and is very seldom managed in a reservoir setting. 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.