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Aquatic Plant ID

They go by different names. You may call them “weeds,” “grass” or “moss.” 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, cover and ambush areas for largemouth bass or food source for the multitude of local waterfowl.

This guide provides information to help you understand when these plants are most productive, where they grow and—most importantly—help you identify them. Whether you are an angler, property owner or any other lake user, we invite you to learn more about the aquatic plants present in our Tennessee Valley region reservoirs.

The guide also offers season-by-season tips for fishing among these plants.

Floating and Floating Leaf Plants

Mosquito Fern

Mosquito Fern (Azolla caroliniana), native. may not be visible to the naked eye during early growth. Colonies become more apparent by late summer, growing thicker through fall.

Mosquito Fern

Description

Mosquito fern is a small, free-floating true fern about ½ inch wide. It has green or reddish, overlapping leaves in 2 compact and overlapping rows, with inconspicuous unbranched rootlets growing on the underside. A blue-green alga (Anabaena azollae) occurs as a companion plant in small pockets of each leaf. Mosquito fern is often found with duckweeds but can be distinguished by its velvety texture and often reddish color.

Habitat

Mosquito fern is native to the eastern United States. It often forms dense floating mats with duckweeds, watermeal and other free-floating aquatic vegetation. Mosquito fern is most common in the central portion of the Tennessee Valley region, where it is often found in swamps and floating on the surface mats of other submersed vegetation in lakes.

Identifying Features

What it Looks Like—Native mosquito fern is easily identifiable by its Christmas-tree shape. In summer and fall, large colonies of mosquito fern turn dark red creating a crimson look in large areas.

Where to Find It—Mosquito fern prefers calm water areas in the backs of creeks and embayments. It is often mixed with duckweed species.

Similar Species—Similar in size to duckweeds, mosquito fern is easily distinguishable by shape and color.

Seasonal Fishing Techniques

Spring—Plants are present in the spring as tiny spores but not yet visible to the naked eye. Fishing benefit is negligible during this time.

Summer—Plants will rapidly break up at branching points and form numerous new plants. The result is colonies of mosquito fern that will become visible in late summer, offering great topwater fishing. Throw a buzzbait or other top-water moving bait and wait for those big bass blow-ups!

Fall—By early fall, mosquito fern colonies will span entire coves and quiet backwater areas. Colonies will be much thicker by mid-fall. Throw weedless topwater baits capable of maneuvering across large colonies. Fish can easily break through mosquito fern to take down prey.

Winter—Plants will die rapidly with reproductive parts sinking to the bottom. These reproductive portions will again rise in the spring to create new plants. Fishing benefit is negligible during this time.

Drawbacks

Mosquito fern can inhibit some water uses but management is not often needed as colonies seldom grow to nuisance levels.

Shoreline Plants

Mosquito Fern

Mosquito Fern (Azolla caroliniana), native. may not be visible to the naked eye during early growth. Colonies become more apparent by late summer, growing thicker through fall.

Mosquito Fern

Description

Mosquito fern is a small, free-floating true fern about ½ inch wide. It has green or reddish, overlapping leaves in 2 compact and overlapping rows, with inconspicuous unbranched rootlets growing on the underside. A blue-green alga (Anabaena azollae) occurs as a companion plant in small pockets of each leaf. Mosquito fern is often found with duckweeds but can be distinguished by its velvety texture and often reddish color.

Habitat

Mosquito fern is native to the eastern United States. It often forms dense floating mats with duckweeds, watermeal and other free-floating aquatic vegetation. Mosquito fern is most common in the central portion of the Tennessee Valley region, where it is often found in swamps and floating on the surface mats of other submersed vegetation in lakes.

Identifying Features

What it Looks Like—Native mosquito fern is easily identifiable by its Christmas-tree shape. In summer and fall, large colonies of mosquito fern turn dark red creating a crimson look in large areas.

Where to Find It—Mosquito fern prefers calm water areas in the backs of creeks and embayments. It is often mixed with duckweed species.

Similar Species—Similar in size to duckweeds, mosquito fern is easily distinguishable by shape and color.

Seasonal Fishing Techniques

Spring—Plants are present in the spring as tiny spores but not yet visible to the naked eye. Fishing benefit is negligible during this time.

Summer—Plants will rapidly break up at branching points and form numerous new plants. The result is colonies of mosquito fern that will become visible in late summer, offering great topwater fishing. Throw a buzzbait or other top-water moving bait and wait for those big bass blow-ups!

Fall—By early fall, mosquito fern colonies will span entire coves and quiet backwater areas. Colonies will be much thicker by mid-fall. Throw weedless topwater baits capable of maneuvering across large colonies. Fish can easily break through mosquito fern to take down prey.

Winter—Plants will die rapidly with reproductive parts sinking to the bottom. These reproductive portions will again rise in the spring to create new plants. Fishing benefit is negligible during this time.

Drawbacks

Mosquito fern can inhibit some water uses but management is not often needed as colonies seldom grow to nuisance levels.

Submersed Plants

Mosquito Fern

Mosquito Fern (Azolla caroliniana), native. may not be visible to the naked eye during early growth. Colonies become more apparent by late summer, growing thicker through fall.

Mosquito Fern

Description

Mosquito fern is a small, free-floating true fern about ½ inch wide. It has green or reddish, overlapping leaves in 2 compact and overlapping rows, with inconspicuous unbranched rootlets growing on the underside. A blue-green alga (Anabaena azollae) occurs as a companion plant in small pockets of each leaf. Mosquito fern is often found with duckweeds but can be distinguished by its velvety texture and often reddish color.

Habitat

Mosquito fern is native to the eastern United States. It often forms dense floating mats with duckweeds, watermeal and other free-floating aquatic vegetation. Mosquito fern is most common in the central portion of the Tennessee Valley region, where it is often found in swamps and floating on the surface mats of other submersed vegetation in lakes.

Identifying Features

What it Looks Like—Native mosquito fern is easily identifiable by its Christmas-tree shape. In summer and fall, large colonies of mosquito fern turn dark red creating a crimson look in large areas.

Where to Find It—Mosquito fern prefers calm water areas in the backs of creeks and embayments. It is often mixed with duckweed species.

Similar Species—Similar in size to duckweeds, mosquito fern is easily distinguishable by shape and color.

Seasonal Fishing Techniques

Spring—Plants are present in the spring as tiny spores but not yet visible to the naked eye. Fishing benefit is negligible during this time.

Summer—Plants will rapidly break up at branching points and form numerous new plants. The result is colonies of mosquito fern that will become visible in late summer, offering great topwater fishing. Throw a buzzbait or other top-water moving bait and wait for those big bass blow-ups!

Fall—By early fall, mosquito fern colonies will span entire coves and quiet backwater areas. Colonies will be much thicker by mid-fall. Throw weedless topwater baits capable of maneuvering across large colonies. Fish can easily break through mosquito fern to take down prey.

Winter—Plants will die rapidly with reproductive parts sinking to the bottom. These reproductive portions will again rise in the spring to create new plants. Fishing benefit is negligible during this time.

Drawbacks

Mosquito fern can inhibit some water uses but management is not often needed as colonies seldom grow to nuisance levels.