Frogs Catch BassFrogs Catch Bass Imagine the water's calm surface exploding as a bass violently swings its head back and forth with your frog in its mouth.
By Brad Wiegmann
It's no real surprise that lures resembling frogs and toads catch fish. Small ponds and lakes provide frogs with shelter, food, a place to reproduce and raise their young. Although lures which resemble frogs will catch bass almost any time of the year, summer and fall is prime time to be fishing with amphibian shaped lures. As water temperature rises, bass begin prowling the shoreline, laydowns, docks, mats and vegetated areas in search of forage like frogs. On the other hand, frogs are always wary of predators any time they go in or near the water. There's a fine line between swimming across the pond or sitting on matted vegetation and being inhaled by a bass.
Lures which imitate frogs come in a number of styles, sizes, and shapes. They come in one of the following types: hollow bodied, soft body or hard body. Floating hollow-bodied frogs have a narrow shape closely imitating the real thing. Inside is embedded a weight molded into the body along with a specially designed double frog hook. Depending on the brand each bait will have some type of frog- imitating legs. They are made from various materials including living rubber, solid rubber, or silicone skirting. Hollow bodied frogs can be walked on the surface similar to walk-the-dog movement with a Zara Spook, hopped, or skipped across the surface. They are extremely effective for catching fish out of thick mats, open water, or sparse grass.
Unlike hollow body frogs, soft body frogs are solid pieces of plastic. These baits closely emulate a real frog with legs that look like they are swimming when reeled in. Most will have a belly slot to increase the hookup ratio. No hook is included with solid bodied frog, but numerous hook manufacturers offer frog hooks in an assortment of styles and sizes. Soft plastic bodied frogs are designed to be cast out and be reeled on the surface or waked just below. Unlike a hollow bodied frog, the solid ones will sink when paused. A soft plastic bodied frog can be fished over thick grass mats, sparse patches of grass, stumps, logs, or any cover. Soft plastic bodied frogs are usually rigged texposed-meaning the hook is Texas rigged with the tip of the point tucked just under the surface of the lure. A texposed solid body frog is completely weedless and snag proof.
One other type is the hard body frog constructed from plastic or wood. Hard bodied frogs have a solid body closely resembling a frog; in fact some of the new hard body frogs are so anatomically accurate it's hard to believe. While some of these hard body frogs are short and stubby others have a shape similar to a Zara Spook and can walk-the-dog effortlessly with continuous twitches of the rod tip. Hard bodied frogs can be fished in open water situations or around the edge of grass mats, laydowns, shoreline, submerged timber, and docks.
Most every fishing pond has productive areas for casting a frog-style lure near the shoreline or within casting distance. Selecting the right style and color of frog is important. Anglers should focus on grass mats, individual clumps of grass, submerged timber, laydowns, docks, and the shoreline. Select lure color based on two important things...native species of frogs and a color which contrasts with the water to be most easily seen by a bass.
Most any type of rooted aquatic vegetation in a pond becomes an oasis for bass. It offers shelter and, more importantly, ambush points. Rooted plants that seem attractive to bass have a recognizable long, flexible yet firm, stem similar to water lilies. Free floating plants have roots hanging down beneath them to gather nutrients and not attach to the bottom. Submersed plants like milfoil or pondweed grows underwater and some produce flowers on the surface. Emergent plants are commonly found in shallow water or near the shoreline. Cattails or bulrushes are examples of emergent plants. Although it's not necessary to know the scientific name of every plant growing in the pond you are fishing it is important to recognize which type of aquatic vegetation you are catching bass on that day. Bass may move from one type of aquatic vegetation to another depending on time of day, season, angling pressure and water temperature.
Laydowns and Artificial Fish Attractors
Laydowns and artificial fish attractors are normally found near shallow water where bass often go to feed on frogs and other forage. These habitat elements offer bass shelter from other predators and provide an ambush point. An individual laydown can hold several bass while a large artificial fish attractor may have a whole school.
Docks provide shelter, shade and an ambush point, but unlike laydowns there is usually only one dock on each pond. Docks may have brush piles, PVC fish attractors, deep water or other cover and structure close by, making it the perfect home for a bass.
One of the most obvious places to fish a frog is next to the shoreline. Not all shores will have bass on them. The season, time of day, food availability, angling pressure and water temperature will motivate bass to move accordingly. One key to finding a good bank to fish is checking the water depth. Good banks always seem to have a drop off close by for bass to quickly escape if necessary.
Color and Size Matters
Strangely enough color and size does matter when fishing a frog. If you are not getting a bite, change color patterns, types or size of your frog. In general, anglers should fish with smaller frogs in ponds to get more strikes or in ponds that only have small bass. In ponds or small lakes with big bass, anglers should not limit themselves to smaller baits. The old saying is big baits catch big fish. That's true.
As for what color pattern, that's harder to select than size because of the wide selection available. Some color patterns are so lifelike it's hard to believe they're really not alive. Other color patterns are wild and don't resemble anything alive, but still catch bass. Most anglers like to fish natural color patterns on bright sunny days and darker colors like black, green and brown on cloudy days or early and late in the day. The color frog you choose may also hinge on water color, just like picking any other bait, especially plastics.
One of the most important parts of fishing with a frog is the gear. Rod and reels and line size and type are important. The right gear will let an angler reel in a big bass from thick mats or around brush piles. A fishing rod for frog fishing should have a medium action fast-tip with a stiff backbone. The stiff backbone gives anglers the power to pull the bass quickly from thick cover while controlling the fish. A medium action fast tip allows an angler to make better and longer pinpoint casts; in addition to making it easier to walk the dog. A reel for frog fishing should have a high speed gear ratio and high quality drag to turn the bass since they often dive down after the hook is set.
What fishing line you use for frog fishing comes down to each individual angler. Braid fishing line definitely has its advantages over monofilament or fluorocarbon line. Its stronger, floats, has little if any stretch to it, and will cut through the grass. Anglers fishing with braid often rig up with 60- to 80-pound test because it has the same diameter of 10- to 12-pound test monofilament. Braid is normally tied directly to the frog or hook without a leader using a Palomar knot.
Setting the Hook and Landing Fish
Imagine the water's calm surface exploding as a bass violently swings its head back and forth with your frog in its mouth. That's what a frog bite looks like and few anglers can resist setting the hook too fast when this happens. Every good frog angler has their own method of waiting until the bass has taken the frog deep enough to set the hook. If you do it too quickly, the frog will merely pop out. I once knew an angler who counted to three before setting the hook and that worked for him. The key is to wait until you feel the bass trying to crush the frog in its mouth. Once you feel that, lean back and set the hook hard.
Landing bass out of cover requires just one thing for the angler to do. Keep the head up and moving towards the boat or yourself. It's all over for you if the bass can get deep into cover allowing the line to tangle.
The next time you go down to the lake don't forget to take your frogs. You can fish them from shore or in a boat around all that cover in the pond. There is no more fun bass fishing excitement than watching a bass as it explodes all over a frog and knowing you are about to do battle with such a majestic creature in its own environment.
Just remember to count to three.
Reprinted with permission from Pond Boss Magazine
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