Duckweed—Not Just for Ducks

One of my favorite bass tactics is fishing vegetation. Moss beds, lily pads, cattails, even duckweed or, as some call it, seed moss. After having a few very successful trips lately, I decided to share my experiences with you in hopes that it might be useful.

What is Duckweed?

First of all, what is duckweed? Here are some facts I discovered while researching the little green plant. Yes, ducks do eat duckweed. In fact, it is so high in protein that it is consumed in some form by humans in Asia, and is said to be more nutritious than soybeans. There are 38 known species of duckweed. Most are without stems or roots, making it easy to be blown by the wind or moved by the slightest current. Its filtering and cleansing properties make it ideal for waste water purification, and duckweed can remove up to 99% of contaminates! The bio-fuel industry is beginning to develop it for commercial use. All this, not to mention its habitat enhancement for fish and other aquatic animals.

Lets go bassin’ in the “seed moss”

In addition to providing cover for minnows, frogs, and insects, duckweed also provides shade that may lower water temperatures by several degrees, especially critical in the hot months of summer and early fall. It may last well into the winter. It will form rafts and can double in size in one day. It usually is found in protected, shallow parts of ponds, sloughs, and oxbows. It may look intimidating to those who have never taken advantage of its fish holding potential. Fishing it is rather simple.

Tackle– A medium heavy rod of at least six and a half feet in length is a good choice, coupled with a fast retrieve reel with a smooth drag system, and at least 14 pound line, and you are ready.

Lures– Folks at Tennessee’s Reelfoot Lake have been fishing seed moss for decades. Their favorite lure is a Johnson Silver Minnow spoon. They will dress it with a long, white, pork strip or a white rubber skirt. This can be fished under the moss as well as dragged across the top like a swimming reptile. Floating frogs can be dynamite but it does take nerves of steel and great patience to get hook ups. Bass may not explode on the lure and produce a green cloud of mayhem every time. Many times, the strike will hardly be noticeable, as they will simply suck it under. In either case one must wait until you feel the pressure of the bass on the end of your line before setting the hook. My favorite lure for his situation is a semi-floating stick worm. Mated with a four or five aught, wide gap hook, it’s an easier lure to judge the timing of your hook set. It’s quite a thrill to see bass bust up through the slop on this rig.

Locations-There are three primary features to look for when fishing duckweed. Edges are the easiest to locate and are the first that should be tried. Bass will cruise these breaks searching for prey. They may also station themselves in the shade of he canopy and wait for a passing meal. Pathways are small trails through the mass made by currents, boats, or critters. Casting to and retrieving through this narrow path can be arm breaking. Holes that may have developed for some reason are the others. They could be close to the edge or isolated in the way back. A long cast may be just the ticket to catch that monster in there, but be prepared to get it to the top and ski it to your boat. Actually, duckweed is not thick like coontail and puts up little resistance. Its what may be hidden beneath that can cause you trouble.

Technique– Lures may be cast and retrieved slowly, they may be hopped along like frogs, or they may be made to swim over the surface. Many times a swimming lure can be dragged to the edge and dropped just as it clears the mat. Be prepared as a bass may have been trailing and waiting just for that. As stated earlier, one may have to wait a few seconds to set the hook. The explosion that may occur might also mean he’s on! In any case, reel fast as the bass may be heading back under the cover of the mats.

This is old-fashioned bass fishing. No fancy electronics are required. A good trolling motor can be an asset. A paddle or push pole might be useful. Some old timers would carry a yard rake to create holes in the mats, back off, and wait a few minutes, then cast into the holes for surprising results. Now is the time to go. As long as the rafts of little green plants are here, bass will be using them as feeding stations.

Good Fishing.