5 minnows hold large bass

5 minnows hold large bass

There’s a very good chance that one of your favorite fishing spots hosts aquatic plants. They are a magnet in most fisheries for both predator and forage species alike. Depending on the type of plant, they can provide shade, security, ambush sites, and/or food.

We’re going to break down a few of the submerged plants that always seem to play a big role in finding quality bass. Studying this information will help you learn about different types of plants and how they grow and help you catch more fish.

Contil – sunken ceratopylum

Coontail is a submerged, rootless plant that grows in very dense colonies or as floating mats. It has smooth, multiple branching stems that can reach 10 feet tall.

The leaves grow in a circular pattern and the individual leaves are slender, short and stiff. The leaves fold forward at the terminal end of the stem to resemble the tail of a fox or raccoon. This plant can reproduce by seeds and fragmentation.

The coontail can be found throughout North America in waters 1 to 20 feet deep or floating in a mat. Fish will use the canopy of mats for shade, the edges of cluster tail growth provide cover for ambushes, and the interiors of plant colonies provide adequate protection for juvenile fish and forage fish.

Go to presentations: Target visible gaps with Texas-rigged baits or jigs. If the water is stained and your vision is obstructed, blind casting the two lures mentioned above will still produce bites. When you feel a bare spot in the middle of the tail, expect a bite!


Variable sheetP. Miscellaneous
American P. nodular
illinoisP. elenensis

There are many species of seaweed found throughout North America. Most seaweed species will have soft, submerged stems with protruding soft parts and floating leaves. Submerged and floating leaves will resemble traditional leaves with an oval or elongated shape and shiny appearance.

Stems extending out of the water column may contain small fruits that are commonly consumed by waterfowl. Pondweeds are usually found in shallow water in fairly dense growth patterns. The floating leaves form a thin canopy that is easy to pierce and fish use both the edge and the inner parts around the stems.

Go to presentations: Topwater offerings and weightless plastics can be a great way to cover water quickly. They can be stringy, so it can be a bit difficult to rip a fast-moving bait through pond weeds.

Water milfoil – Myriophyllum

northernM. Siberia
EurasianM. rose
Variable sheetM. Heteromorphic
rotating sheetM. verticillatum

Several types of waterleaf are found throughout North America. In general, cabbage will have soft, plump stems and feather-like leaves. The leaves will have leaflets that form a feather-like appearance; One of the best ways to learn about the different types is through publication counts.

The leaves grow in a circular pattern usually consisting of 4 leaves per node. Milfoil can reproduce through cuttings, seeds and rhizomes. Milfoil form dense, woven colonies in 1 to 20 feet of water with heavy surface mats usually in clear water. Small fish will use the dense interior cover, while predators will use the edges to ambush prey and the dense mat of shade.

Go to presentations: You can fish for milfoil very similarly to how you fish for hydrilla. Ripping reaction lures through them will attract pesky strikes from nearby bass lurking in the shadows.

Hydrilla – Hydrilla verticillata

Hydrilla is a subterranean plant with multiple branching stems. Hydrilla leaves will be blade-shaped, thin, and fairly short. The underside of the leaves will have small teeth that feel rough when rubbed.

The leaves grow in a 4 to 8 circular pattern and in more widely spaced segments at deeper depths. Hydrilla can reproduce through fragmentation, seeds, turrets and rhizomes. They can be found rooted in water 1 to 20 feet deep as large colonies that sometimes form surface mats. Hydrilla is mainly distributed along the southeastern states, Texas, California, and the East Coast. Hydrilla has a native family member called Elodea (elodea canadensis) which has no teeth on the underside of the leaves.

Fish use the outer edges and upper part of hydrilla colonies as ambush sites, while juvenile and foraging species use dense mats to escape predation.

Go to presentations: Rip lipless crankbaits, square uprights and bladed swimbaits through hydrilla tops and stick with them! Bass will often attack your bait because it snags.

Eelgrass – Valisneria americana

Eelgrass can be found throughout North America. It has thin, striped or ribbon-like leaves that can reach 3 to 4 feet in length. The leaves have rounded tips and a medium vein and grow in clusters from the root.

Eelgrass grows in very dense colonies or islands, usually in water with some sort of current or flow. Eelgrass reproduces mainly through the rhizome or banana-like capsule containing the seeds.

Go to presentations: In the fall, when the eel grass becomes particularly thick, punch it with a 1- or 1 1/2-ounce Texas critter bait. When eelgrass is sparse at other times of the year, a swimming jig with blades and weightless soft plastics can elicit some aggressive reactions.

For more types of aquatic plants…

Check out this great video filmed by Stephen Bardeen. You can find more information on his popular and very interactive Facebook page.


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Written by Stephen Bardeen

Written by Stephen Bardeen

Stephen Barden earned his bachelor’s degree in freshwater biology from Tarleton State University in 2009 and his master’s degree in fisheries science from Texas A&M University in 2013. While at Tarleton, Barden worked for Harrell Arms at Arms Fish Farm and Bait Company. In 2011 he founded Texas Pro Lake Management. Every day he strives for a scientific approach to help his clients maximize the production of their fisheries. Outside of TPLM, Barden has written for Wired2Fish, taught as an adjunct professor at Tarleton State University, and served as an instructor and camp coordinator for the Bass Brigade Youth Leadership Camp. In 2021, Barden helped Major League Fishing establish its Fisheries Management Division and leads conservation efforts today. Barden is a member of the Texas Aquatic Plant Management Association, Texas Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, Southern Section of the American Fisheries Society, Society of Lake Management Professionals, Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame Board, Texas State Council, Fisheries Advisory Committee Texas Freshwater Fish, and the Major League Anglers Association Council. You can follow him on Facebook and Instagram.

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