Every once in a while, someone asks me, “Why do you like fishing so much? Isn’t it boring?”
My first impulse is to put them in a Homer Simpson-style chokehold for even thinking fishing could be boring. But, cooler heads prevail and I laugh it off or invite them to come fishing with me and judge for themselves.
Truth be told, the best response would be to drag the perpetrator to a bass lake on an August afternoon, tie a frog on the end of their line and stand by, arms folded, with a “told you so” grin on my face. Because when frog fishing gets hopping in the late summer months, even the grumpiest grouch couldn’t help but have a blast.
For those who haven’t fished with a frog — we are talking artificial lures, so Kermit is safe — it is perhaps best described as fly fishing on steroids. You take these comically big lures, fling them into weed beds, lily pads and whatever other gunk you can find, and slowly “hop” them back toward you.
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Sometimes, I give my lure sound effects as it chugs and plops through the water. “Ribbit. Ribbit. Ribbit.” SMASH!!!!!
That last noise comes from neither the lure nor me, but from a largemouth bass cannonballing through the surface to annihilate the frog. I’ve fished with a wide variety of lures, flies and baits, but I’ve never experienced anything like a top-water frog strike. Bass want that frog DEAD — I’ve seen fish go so far as to launch themselves over logs and lily pads to engulf the lure from above.
As violent as frog strikes are, it’s actually difficult to set the hook. The natural inclination is to rear back as soon as you see the strike, but if you do, a crumpled frog will likely come flying back at you, sans fish.
Instead, the key is to wait until the bass takes the lure underwater (to eat it), and you can feel the weight of the fish on your line. Then, and only then, set the hook hard and start reeling, because that bass is headed straight into the thickest cover it can find.
On my last bass trip, the frog bite was so hot we kept fishing after dark — in float tubes, no less — relying upon sound and feel rather than sight. Without the visual of the surface blowup, I actually found it easier to “wait for the weight,” and I increased my hook-up ratio.
On my next trip, maybe I’ll just fish blindfolded.
Top-water frogging can be done from shore, a boat, or a float tube, but it typically works best in highly vegetated areas. For that reason, many frog anglers use heavier tackle — stout, 7-foot rods and 50-pound braided line — to heft fish out of the weeds. Braided line also helps with hook-sets, as it has less stretch than traditional mono. Some of my favorite frog lures are the Live Target Frog, the Southern Lures Scum Frog and the non-floating Zoom Horny Toad, which requires a fast retrieve.
Pick one up at your favorite tackle shop and hop to it, because frog season is on in full force.
Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at outdoors @idahostatesman.com.