Aquatic vegetation can serve an important ecological role by providing many species, including fish such as largemouth bass, with a living habitat. Ideally, a fishing lake would support a limited mix of emergent plants that would stabilize the shoreline and prevent erosion, and submerged plants that would provide the basis for a productive food chain. Aquatic plants offer living environments for invertebrates, which provide food for fish.
However, overabundant aquatic vegetation (covering over 20% of the pond surface) limits fishing access, especially for bank anglers and catfish anglers attempting to present baited hooks near the bottom. Weed-choked lakes and ponds also reduce the feeding success of largemouth bass, resulting in growth-stunted prey and predator fishes. In cases where weeds pose a problem to the overall lake management program, methods exists to eliminate or control aquatic weeds.
In smaller ponds and small lakes, managing for limited coverage of aquatic vegetation and adding artificial “cover” is preferable to allowing aquatic plants to negatively impact fish populations and your fishing experience. Research studies have evaluated the success of establishing a host of native aquatic plants within cages that protect them from herbivores (e.g., grass carp, turtles, and crayfish). If establishment of aquatic plants is a strategy you are considering, consult a professional fisheries biologist or pond manager.
Related Articles on Weed Control for Lake Management: