ALL ABOUT EEL­GRASS

SA Bass - - Tactics -

Fish­ing eel­grass on the Ten­nessee chain isn’t quite the same as fish­ing it else­where in its range, and the sys­tem’s cur­rent, chan­nels and other gov­ern­ing fac­tors re­quire some study of how the grass grows. Com­mon eel­grass (Val­lis­ne­ria

amer­i­cana) is known by a va­ri­ety of names, in­clud­ing tape grass and wild cel­ery or water cel­ery. Of­ten used as an aquar­ium plant and eaten by wa­ter­fowl and some shore­birds, eel­grass in var­i­ous forms is found through­out the world. It’s hardy enough to with­stand low water tem­per­a­tures in Canada as well as equa­to­rial heat and high salin­ity.

Eel­grass can grow to about 5 to 6 feet long and has long leaves that usu­ally are about an inch wide or less. With no branches like hy­drilla, coon­tail or Eurasian mil­foil, the eel­grass might grow in large ar­eas, and will mat up in shal­low water, but not to the same den­sity as hy­drilla.

Eel­grass might grow in smaller clumps or wide swaths thanks to its rhi­zome root sys­tem (a rhi­zome is ac­tu­ally a hor­i­zon­tal stem that grows out and pro­duces new plant shoots and roots, al­low­ing the plant to spread). Like most aquatic veg­e­ta­tion, it will cap­i­tal­ize on the best avail­able bot­tom sur­face – it prefers a hard bot­tom – for grow­ing and pro­lif­er­a­tion.

Un­like mil­foil or hy­drilla, which have nodes on their stems that al­low the plant to re-es­tab­lish and grow else­where when pieces are bro­ken off, eel­grass leaves that break away can’t pro­duce a new plant.

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