Picture this: You cast out into the small opening in the weeds. The plastic frog barely hits the water when a 5-pound bass crushes it, throwing water everywhere. You pause a second then set the hook with all your might, sending the hooks solidly into the fish’s mouth. You crank as fast as you can, skipping the bass across the mat of thick weeds. As the bass comes closer it fights harder trying to get away. The bass comes up to the side of the boat and slides right up on your thumb. You take a couple of quick photos of the Master Angler lunker and then you release the bass safely to the water where he returns to his weedy haunts. If this sounds fun to you it’s time to give summertime frog fishing a try.
There are many lakes throughout Colorado that can get weedy during the dog days of summer, making fishing almost impossible. The fish are still there and they have to eat. So it’s just a matter of presenting the right bait and having the proper equipment to get them out of the slop.
Frog fishing requires some pretty stout gear to handle the fish and the large amount of weeds that you often bring in with the fish. To start with, I like to use a 7-foot, heavy-action casting rod matched with a high-speed bait-casting reel. The reel should be a minimum 6:5:1 gear ratio, although a 7:3:1 is better. The higher gear ratio helps to get the fish out of and on top of the weeds. I spool my reels with a minimum 50-pound braided line. It might seem like overkill, but the heavier line works better when you pull a big fish through the weeds. I also like the no-stretch properties of braided line for instant solid hookups.
If you prefer spinning rods and reels, they can be used as well. Just be sure to use heavier actions and larger spinning reels. Spool them up with heavy braided line and you will be all set.
As for which frog to use, there are numerous types that splash, sputter and pop across the surface. There are even more colors than types. It’s been my experience to buy a couple different ones and give each a try. When the fish are really active it doesn’t seem to matter what frog you use. As for colors, I like to have a few natural green colors, some brighter white ones and a few darker ones too.
All of the frogs usually come with two hooks that stick up at of the end and curve up to where the points stick just under the plastic skin on the back of the frog, similar to a weedless-rigged plastic. Keeping the hook points slightly in the back of the frog will help keep the frog weedless and able to come through the thickest cover. It’s important to remember the hook points have to go through the plastic when you set the hook, which is another reason it’s so important to set the hook as hard as you can. There are also several varieties of soft plastic frogs that can be fished on the surface and rigged like a worm or a lizard.
When picking apart the floating weed masses, look for open areas to fish. There will likely be holes, weed points, coves or small clearings in the weeds where the bass can ambush prey. Casting into these openings can often result in explosive blowups on your lures.
As I mentioned above, it’s really important to set the hook as hard as you can. This will drive the hook points through the plastic frog and into the fish’s mouth and also help turn the fish to where its head is coming toward you. Once you get the fish coming your way, keep cranking or reeling as fast as you can to get the bass out of the weeds. If you let the bass fight down into the weeds, more times than not, you will lose the fish and come up with a pile of salad on your frog. Keep the drag as tight as you can. This helps to get the fish to the boat or shore.
Depending on the thickness of the weeds, other topwater baits can work as well. Poppers, walk-the-dog type baits and prop-baits are all good options. You may have to clean the hooks off after most casts but these lures can produce many fish. Be warned: This style of fishing is highly addictive and can lead to nightmares of missed fish that will haunt you until you land the next lunker!
Photos and story by Brian Marsh. Marsh is a district wildlife manager in southeast Colorado. Marsh is also an avid hunter, angler and outdoorsman.