Fish rap: Get froggy with it for summer largemouth

The late summer months can be magical for largemouth bass fishing. With the spawn long over and cooler temperatures looming, fish turn their attention to piling on as many calories as they can for the winter.

There are many ways for anglers to take advantage of a bass’ ravenous appetite, but few are as fun as throwing a frog. Summer frogging combines the action of spinnerbait fishing with the excitement of a top-water fly strike and the convenience of weedless soft plastics. The results can be lethal if you hit the right conditions.

Frog lures come in many shapes and sizes, but there are two primary types — hollow bodies and solid bodies. Hollow-bodied frogs float and are best used with a popping, stop-and-go retrieve. Solid-bodied frogs sink, so they require a rapid retrieve to stay on the surface — and to keep the legs kicking up as much of a bubbly wake as possible.

As a general rule, catching fish with a frog requires thinking like a frog. Rather than casting to open water, toss your amphibious friend into the types of places you most often see or hear frogs. Think lily pads, submerged weed beds and patches of thick, gooey green moss. Most frogs are weedless, and they skip right through the thickest cover without much trouble.

The hardest part of frog fishing is setting the hook. You get to watch the fish demolish your lure, so the natural inclination is to rear back right away. DON’T DO IT! Wait for the fish to take the lure underwater for a second or two, get the slack out of your line, and then let ’em have it. You’ll probably miss more fish than usual, especially in the early going, but the fun factor will make it worth the effort.

Frogs typically work best early or late in the day, when real frogs are out and about. Fly fishermen can throw frog-pattern streamers and poppers. Other top-water offerings can produce similar excitement, from buzzbaits to lures that resemble mice and even ducklings. The lesson, as always, is never underestimate what a bass can fit in that oversized mouth.

Tight lines!