Nothing quite ruins a day of fishing more than getting tangled with every cast or reeling in what feels like pounds of seaweed. So what can you do to avoid seaweed when fishing? You can use the right lures and bait, fish on the right side of the seaweed or move to another spot. There is really no way to absolutely avoid seaweed if you are fishing near it but there are actions you can take to minimize the amount of seaweed you get caught in.
This year there seems to be an abundance of seaweed in the water. This is due to natural cycles in the water. Older anglers remember years ago when there was just as much seaweed. It is a natural cycle that occurs at least once a decade. Fishing in seaweed is very irritating as it gets caught on the line and lure you are using. Seaweed can come in both patches and lines. Seaweed lines are often easier to fish because there is a right side to fish.
Benefits of Seaweed
So you might be thinking “If seaweed is such an unpleasant sight, then why should I fish near it?” The answer is simple, the seaweed acts as a natural habitat for small bait fish that larger, predator fish feed on. As a saltwater angler, you are more than likely going after that large predator feeding on those bait fish.
Not all seaweed is the same. One of the most common types of seaweed found in the Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic coast is Sargassum. Sargassum originates in the Sargassum Sea and it migrates through wind and current into other bodies of water. Full of nutrients, Sargassum holds numerous sea life.
Some of the bait fish found near the seaweed aren’t even feeding on the seaweed but using it for cover. Predator fish will stay on the edge waiting for baitfish to come out. Fishing on the boundary of this sargassum will produce great results if you can keep from getting tangled in the seaweed. Another common type of seaweed is eelgrass. This seaweed has less nutrients which means less sea life. It fouls up lines, hooks, and baits more than other types of seaweed.
You have to decide if fishing near seaweed is worth it. We think it is if you use these tips and tricks of avoiding seaweed.
Using the Right Bait and Lures
If seaweed has become an issue and you feel as if you are just taking seaweed off your lures more than fishing (this is often called bailing hay), try using different baits and lures. The first thing you can try is to find lures that are weedless. These weedless lures generally have hooks that are tucked under the lure to keep weeds from getting hooked. Truscend is an effective brand of weedless lures. They may also have skirts on them that once again hides the hook to prevent weeds from getting hooked.
If you are using live bait or cut bait, you can tuck the hook deeper into the bait so less of the hook is sticking out. Also, try using smaller lures that have smaller profiles. Smaller lures will help prevent seaweed from getting stuck on your line. You could also add an unweighted skirt that tucks the hook into it. This unweighted skirt will keep the lure on the top of the water and skip along the water instead of dragging the seaweed.
Finally, try using braid instead of monofilament or fluorocarbon. Many times, the line is what picks up the weed and it then travels down to the lure or bait. Braid is thinner than mono or fluoro so it is less likely to pick up the seaweed. If seaweed is an issue, try using the proper equipment and gear to reap the benefits of fishing near the seaweed.
Fish on the Right Side of the Weedline
Another way to avoid seaweed is to fish on the right side of the weedline. Finding seaweed free water near seaweed can be very beneficial when fishing. It will allow you to cast close to the seaweed without getting tangled in the seaweed. A rip is formed when two waters meet. The wind and current must meet and form just right. The rip then forms a weedline that is full of nutrients that attract huge schools of baitfish that then attract predators like tuna and marlin. When the rip forms it creates a clean side of the weedline. This clean side can be fished and keep your bait clean at the same time. You can fish this weedline through casting or through trolling.
Finally, if you can’t get to the clean side of the weedline and can’t change baits or lures, you may need to move. Moving may allow you to still fish without the headache of cleaning off your line and lure so often. You may also need to change the technique you are using to fish. If you are trolling and getting tangled in seaweed or having to “bail a lot of hay” then try moving to casting instead. This will allow you to get your lure where there is no seaweed. If you can’t cast or troll, you may need to move to a different location. Keep in mind, you can’t guarantee that there will be no seaweed where you move so be mindful.
When fishing on the shore, seaweed is just as irritating if not more so. The wind, current, and tide will deposit seaweed onto the shore. The clumps and piles of seaweed sit on the beach and overtime, rot and smell terrible. If you can get past the smell and decide to fish near this seaweed, there will likely be seaweed in the water. One technique to try is try getting your fishing line further out of the water. Instead of laying your rod on the beach, try putting it in a rod holder. Fish from a height such as a pier or dock. Also try fishing from a 45° angle instead of straight out from your rod. You could also try taking your line out past the seaweed.
If you are using live bait, change your bait often, this will give you a free piece of bait that is more lively and give you the time to clean off seaweed. Much like fishing from a boat, try different baits and lures designed to be weedless. You can sometimes track the seed weed using a satellite website that will track the blooms. If this tracking is possible, finding a place where the seaweed is not is the best way to avoid seaweed when shore fishing. Once you find a place that has no seaweed, keep in mind that if you move, that new place may have seaweed and staying put may be a better option than moving.
Fishing around seaweed can be very beneficial because of the bait fish that live in the seaweed feeding on the nutrients. However, getting tangled and having to bail hay can be quite irritating. It is definitely a tale of pros and cons. The pros to fishing near seaweed include catching a massive predator feeding on the baitfish living in the seaweed. The cons include tangles, clumping, and bailing hay. You have to weigh both sides. You can not completely avoid seaweed when fishing in the ocean or gulf but using the right bait and lures and fishing in the correct spot can make the trip more successful and less of a headache.
Also, learn When to Use a Swivel While Fishing.