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Rick Howard

Aquatic Vegetation

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A recent thread on BR I reminded me.  Over the off season I want to learn more about aquatic vegetation.  General learning.  In specific I would like to be able to identify types of vegetation.  Also some general knowledge of those plants would be great.   When I hunt I like to ID trees.  I like to do the same while fishing but also ID the different aquatic vegetation.  Can you folks recommend a good reference guide?

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Search "aquatic plants" or "macrophytes" with "identification". You should get many university sites. There's a LOT out there.

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Being from NY here are some of my observations on vegitation in the bodies of water I fish that may help you once you have ID'ed what your looking at:

Submergent veg:

Milfoil = bass.......... if it's green and healthy. Once it turns brown and slimey, and looks like "rust" falls off it when you hit it with a lure, get away from it, as the bass have left it. Milfoil takes it's sweet azz time getting going in the spring, as it really likes nutriant rich, warm water, and a cool dry spring seems to keep it down. 

Deep water coontail = bass. This stuff stays green in even the nastiest water, and way late into the year. There is ALWAYS life around it. Like Milfoil, it takes a while to get going in the spring, but by late summer it's usually pretty thick, and stays thick and green longer than the milfoil. 

Curly leaf pond weed = bass......... IF milfoil and coon tail are not available, but if they are, they really seem to prefer the milfoil and coontail. On my lake this weed is the first one in the spring to "take off' and get lush...as it seems to like really really clear water, and cooler temps. But then it wilts and dies in early summer when water temps start rising and when the water starts getting a little color in it, and is replaced in the depths it grows in  by milfoil and coontail.

Eel grass.........avoid it. They NEVER and I mean NEVER seem to be IN the eel grass, but will cruise the edges of it. At some point in late summer/early fall eel grass uproots, and floats, and makes floating mats...........sometimes they get under it, but they still don't seem to care for it much.

carpet weeds........like chara, coon tail moss (looks like deep water coon tail, but just grows close to the bottom in shallow to mid depths)....never seem to be many bass around this stuff or in the area it grows as it mostly grows on soft mucky bottoms

Elodia.........looks like hydrilla, but it ain't, and I rarely find bass in or around it

Emergant veg:

Pads of all sizes............they all hold bass if there is enough water under them, and the bottom under them is to the bass's liking.t

Cat tails......... they typically grow in muck, and other than the odd hard bottom areas that intersect with them , I rarely find them to be productive.

 

 

 

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3 minutes ago, ww2farmer said:

Being from NY here are some of my observations on vegitation in the bodies of water I fish that may help you once you have ID'ed what your looking at:

Submergent veg:

Milfoil = bass.......... if it's green and healthy. Once it turns brown and slimey, and looks like "rust" falls off it when you hit it with a lure, get away from it, as the bass have left it. Milfoil takes it's sweet azz time getting going in the spring, as it really likes nutriant rich, warm water, and a cool dry spring seems to keep it down. 

Deep water coontail = bass. This stuff stays green in even the nastiest water, and way late into the year. There is ALWAYS life around it. Like Milfoil, it takes a while to get going in the spring, but by late summer it's usually pretty thick, and stays thick and green longer than the milfoil. 

Curly leaf pond weed = bass......... IF milfoil and coon tail are not available, but if they are, they really seem to prefer the milfoil and coontail. On my lake this weed is the first one in the spring to "take off' and get lush...as it seems to like really really clear water, and cooler temps. But then it wilts and dies in early summer when water temps start rising and when the water starts getting a little color in it, and is replaced in the depths it grows in  by milfoil and coontail.

Eel grass.........avoid it. They NEVER and I mean NEVER seem to be IN the eel grass, but will cruise the edges of it. At some point in late summer/early fall eel grass uproots, and floats, and makes floating mats...........sometimes they get under it, but they still don't seem to care for it much.

carpet weeds........like chara, coon tail moss (looks like deep water coon tail, but just grows close to the bottom in shallow to mid depths)....never seem to be many bass around this stuff or in the area it grows as it mostly grows on soft mucky bottoms

Elodia.........looks like hydrilla, but it ain't, and I rarely find bass in or around it

Emergant veg:

Pads of all sizes............they all hold bass if there is enough water under them, and the bottom under them is to the bass's liking.t

Cat tails......... they typically grow in muck, and other than the odd hard bottom areas that intersect with them , I rarely find them to be productive.

 

 

 

Well done ww2farmer. You covered almost all the vegetation you will find here in the northeast. Very informative. I had similar results fishing the vegetation in the instances you described.

I have had some very good days pitching in to isolated patches of eel grass especially if other vegetation is limited.

If water chestnut occurs in the body of water you fish it usually will hold some quality bass.

 

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State of Michigan DEQ has a nice rough guide to our some of our more common aquatic plants, I would bet you have most of the same principal types in NY, as most of the ones mentioned above are included. There is also a short list of resources at the bottom:

https://www.michigan.gov/documents/deq/wrd-anc-CommonPlant_408518_7.pdf

Also the In-Fisherman Largemouth Bass and Critical Concepts books have some descriptions of aquatic plant types, and strategies for fishing them.

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I think ww2farmer did a pretty good summing everything up for the most part. I will say my experience with eel grass is very different though, the few 50+ fish days I've had have come from eel grass, along with my 2nd and 3rd largest bass. Possibly a regional difference between Florida and Northern strain largemouths?

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Yeah,Ive done well with eel grass also.Its One of my major areas to fish.Pads always hold fish. For the most part,I will fish green vegetation.I won't fish dead,brown weeds.We also have a lot of southern niad in my home lake.I catch a lot of fish in the pockets of it.

And I caught my PB right by a cattail stand.

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On 11/6/2016 at 7:44 AM, ww2farmer said:

Being from NY here are some of my observations on vegitation in the bodies of water I fish that may help you once you have ID'ed what your looking at:

Submergent veg:

Milfoil = bass.......... if it's green and healthy. Once it turns brown and slimey, and looks like "rust" falls off it when you hit it with a lure, get away from it, as the bass have left it. Milfoil takes it's sweet azz time getting going in the spring, as it really likes nutriant rich, warm water, and a cool dry spring seems to keep it down. 

Deep water coontail = bass. This stuff stays green in even the nastiest water, and way late into the year. There is ALWAYS life around it. Like Milfoil, it takes a while to get going in the spring, but by late summer it's usually pretty thick, and stays thick and green longer than the milfoil. 

Curly leaf pond weed = bass......... IF milfoil and coon tail are not available, but if they are, they really seem to prefer the milfoil and coontail. On my lake this weed is the first one in the spring to "take off' and get lush...as it seems to like really really clear water, and cooler temps. But then it wilts and dies in early summer when water temps start rising and when the water starts getting a little color in it, and is replaced in the depths it grows in  by milfoil and coontail.

Eel grass.........avoid it. They NEVER and I mean NEVER seem to be IN the eel grass, but will cruise the edges of it. At some point in late summer/early fall eel grass uproots, and floats, and makes floating mats...........sometimes they get under it, but they still don't seem to care for it much.

carpet weeds........like chara, coon tail moss (looks like deep water coon tail, but just grows close to the bottom in shallow to mid depths)....never seem to be many bass around this stuff or in the area it grows as it mostly grows on soft mucky bottoms

Elodia.........looks like hydrilla, but it ain't, and I rarely find bass in or around it

Emergant veg:

Pads of all sizes............they all hold bass if there is enough water under them, and the bottom under them is to the bass's liking.t

Cat tails......... they typically grow in muck, and other than the odd hard bottom areas that intersect with them , I rarely find them to be productive.

 

 

 

Oddly, so far I haven't found bass around Elodea either. Sure looks good though.

One more to add: Sago Pondweed -what I call "Threadleaf"- pretty common here, impossible to fish through (fouls everytime) and... doesn't attract bass. So I simply can avoid it.

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My experience with the pondweeds, like Illinois or Sago, is to pitch a pegged Texas rigged worm. I get a lot of bass in the plants in Florida, propbanly because I see bluegill bedding in them as well. 

For fishing Cattails I look for something different in the stand. Weeds blown-in, Cattails fallen over, etc. Pitching worms into anything laying sideways in the stand is often productive for me from FL to NC.  Bulrush is a better habitat for bass and aquatic life because it offers the same vertical habitat but doesn't have the high cellulose contain, therefore making Bulrush an easier plant for grazers to digest. 

In eelgrass I use an inconvinetional drop-shot setup rigged on 20lb line and an 8" trick worm. It works amazing. The weight comes thru the grass easily but the worm stay above it.

In FL, we seem to get all the "new" exotic plants so we have to learn to fish them all. I'm glad to share a few of the little tricks to effectively get bass out of acres of plants.

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