How to Avoid Seaweed When Fishing (& Should You?)

How to Avoid Seaweed When Fishing (& Should You?)

To avoid seaweed when fishing, you can use weedless lures, fish on the right side of the seaweed, or move to another spot. 

This year there seems to be an abundance of seaweed 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.

Nothing 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?

How Does Seaweed Affect Fishing?

Seaweed can have both positive and negative effects on fishing.

Seaweed build up provides shelter, protection, and food sources, attracting small fish, crabs, shrimp, and other baitfish, which can attract larger predatory fish (especially bass and redfish). Fishing near areas with seaweed can increase your chances of finding fish feeding or seeking shelter.

On the other hand, it can foul fishing lines, lures, and hooks, making it challenging to present bait. It can also interfere with the movement of lures or bait, reducing their visibility. There is a higher risk of lines and hooks getting tangled. This can lead to lost tackle.

When Is the Presence of Seaweed Good for Fishing?

So you might be thinking, “If seaweed is such an unpleasant sight, why should I fish near it?” The answer is simple; seaweed is a natural habitat for small baitfish 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 baitfish 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 bait fish to come out. Fishing on the boundary of Sargassum seaweed will produce great results if you can keep from getting tangled in it. 

Another common type of seaweed is Eelgrass. This seaweed has fewer nutrients which means less sea life. It fouls up lines, hooks, and baits more than other types of seaweed.

Sargassum seaweed
Sargassum seaweed

How to Avoid Seaweed When Fishing

Use Appropriate Bait and Lures

I recommend weedless lures. These weedless lures generally have hooks that are tucked under the lure to keep weeds from getting hooked. They may also have skirts that once again hide 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. Also, try using smaller lures. Smaller lures will help prevent seaweed from getting stuck on your line. You can 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, use braid instead of monofilament or fluorocarbon. The line often picks up the weed, and it then travels down to the lure or bait. Braid is thinner than mono or fluoro, making it less likely to pick up 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. It will allow you to cast close to the seaweed without getting tangled in it. You can fish this weedline through casting or trolling. 

Water movement plays a role in the formation and maintenance of weedlines. Strong currents, tidal flows, and wave action can help concentrate floating or drifting vegetation along certain areas, creating distinct lines where the vegetation accumulates. These weedlines are full of nutrients that attract schools of baitfish and predators like tuna and marlin.

Change Fishing Technique or Location

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,” try casting instead. This will allow you to get your lure where there is no seaweed.

You may need to move to a different location if you can’t cast or troll.

How to Fish From Shore And Avoid Seaweed

Try getting your fishing line out of the water when surf fishing. Fish from a height such as a pier or a dock. Also, try fishing from a 45° angle instead of straight out from your rod.

Much like fishing from a boat, try different baits and lures designed to be weedless. If you use live bait, change your bait often; a lively bait may help avoid seaweed.

You can sometimes know where the seaweed will be by checking a satellite website that will track the blooms.

Fisherman gathering seaweed
Fisherman gathering seaweed

To Sum Up

The pros to fishing near seaweed include catching a massive predator that feeds on the baitfish living around the seaweed. The cons include tangles, clumping, and bailing hay. You have to weigh both sides.

While you cannot completely avoid seaweed when fishing in the ocean or gulf, using the right bait and lures and fishing in the correct spot can help.

Also, learn When to Use a Swivel While Fishing.

More To Explore