Weed Whacking

When fishing's slow, pound these ambush covers.

Outdoor Life Online Editor

"It's not that bass like the peppergrass itself," says Jack Wingate. "They don't chew it or anything. It's just that peppergrass grows on the type of bottom where bass like to fan out their beds."

Wingate is no botanist, but he is on to something important when he makes his observation about the connection between water weeds and spawning bass. Although Wingate, former proprietor of Lake Seminole's famed Lunker Lodge, is talking about emergent pondweed, or peppergrass, his words resonate wherever anglers encounter aquatic vegetation. Bass and other fish aren't herbivores, but they depend on water weeds in other ways. Their prey might feed on the green stuff, or hide in it, or hunt smaller creatures in it. Submergent vegetation helps filter silt out of the water, too, and provides more dissolved oxygen at times when it would otherwise be uncomfortably low for fish.

Some aquatic weeds grow on the type of bottom that's essential to spawning or to feeding on such seasonal menu items as crayfish and hellgrammites. Bass, panfish, walleyes, pike and muskies all associate with weeds, though perhaps for different reasons and at different times of the year.

The important thing is that you learn what the vegetation types are in your home waters, what sorts of bottom compositions and depths they favor relative to water clarity, when and why fish are there, and how you can effectively fish the green stuff.

With good light and polarized glasses, you should be able to locate submerged weed beds. Some vegetation grows from top to bottom, and a variety of lures can be fished over or through it.

Whether the weeds are in deep or shallow water, the main thing is to get your lures wallowing right in the thick of things. As Jack Wingate notes, fish might not eat salad as we do, but they sure as heck use it for just about everything else.