For most folks, it’s almost too hot outside to go fishing. You’ve really got to want it to go chasing largemouth bass this time of year.
But August is “Take a Frog Fishing” month. OK, not really, but it should be — especially if you want some fast action and a livewell full of bass. Nothing works better than an imitation frog to wake up big summer-weary largemouth bass.
“There is no better bait to throw this time of year than a frog,” said up-and-coming FLW pro Tyler Stewart of West Monroe. “There are just so many places that you can throw a frog and put it right on the nose of a big old bass. You can throw it in bushes, grass beds, lily pads or over a log. You can throw it basically anywhere that a bass can hide.”
Of course, the most common frog territory is grass or weeds. And there is so much vegetation this time of year in Louisiana waters that a frog is just a natural choice, in more ways than one.
“You can toss today’s frogs anywhere and not worry about getting it hung up. They are extremely weedless and there are a lot of places you can’t get another bait in like a frog. Fish will get way back up in cover this time of year in water that is way more shallow than most anglers would expect,” Stewart said. “That makes it a great time to take a frog fishing.”
On an average day, he said fishing a frog is also one of the easiest lures to catch fish on. Simply throw it out and reel it in across the surface. There aren’t many hot summer days when you do that and won’t get bit. And, it’s a great lure to teach young people to bass fish for those very same reasons.
Refine your approach
But if you take a professional approach to it, you can refine your presentation for more — and better — catches.
“To be honest, I’ve never seen a real frog swimming across the surface, but the frog really resembles a baitfish dancing across the top of the water, and gets the attention of a bass quickly,” he said.
Stewart said while a basic approach to casting and reeling will catch fish, varying your technique according to the situation makes a huge difference.
His most simple plan is this: If it’s super hot and there’s no wind and he’s fishing around pads or grass, he will fish it slow and pick apart the structure from one end to the other. Early in the morning, on cloudy days or during a shad spawn, Stewart will fish it fast and cover as much water as he can. That’s when the bass will be most aggressive with the lure.
“Another technique is to use the stop-and-go retrieve,” he said. “That works especially well around pads or grass fields where there are holes in the cover. Buzz the bait across the pads, but then stop it when it comes to a small opening. Let it sit there until all the ripples are gone, then twitch it. If you don’t get a bite, just keep repeating that retrieve.”
There are dozens of thoughts on how and when to set the hook on a bass when it engulfs a frog. Some say set it quickly, others say count to three.
Stewart has a simple approach.
“When I can’t see the frog anymore, I lean into him and set the hook,” he said.
One of the problems for the average angler is that huge pad fields and grass beds may all look the same. Stewart said the best way to approach those places is to look for irregularities in the structure. Look for little points in the grass, or little pockets in the pads. Often there will be a stickup or small top in the grass or pads. Those are excellent places to throw a frog more than once. Just look for something different — that’s what the fish do.
Knock on wood
“When it is really hot and you are fishing a body of water that doesn’t have a lot of grass, look for something that will give the fish shade. It could be a canopy provided by low-hanging branches, or wood in the form of stumps and trees,” Stewart said. “Get the frog as close to the structure as you can. Bump it with your lure if you can. You can also throw a frog right up in bushes along the bank. Twitch it, then rip it out of there.
“Bass also hang around boat houses, and you can fish the poles on them. You’d be surprised, but one of the best places to throw a frog this month is beside floating boat houses. The fish will suspend under those and come up and bust a frog without a second thought.”
There are dozens of different colors of frogs, and while actual frog-colored imitations will catch bass, Stewart usually sticks to just two colors: White for early in the year and early in the morning, and black the rest of the time.
“I think the main thing is that they just see the bait,” he said. “I don’t think they are swimming up there to see if it looks like a real frog. These are reaction strikes.
“There is one other key to frog fishing. I start throwing a frog earlier in the year than most people,” he said. “Once the water temperature reaches 55 degrees, you can get a frog bite. I’ll stick with it until the water cools back down to 55. At that time, you might as well give up on any topwater bite.”
Stewart doesn’t look for deep water or contour breaks on his electronics to find frog fishing holes, but using Navionics mapping can show you where good frog fishing areas will be even if you aren’t familiar with a lake.