Frogging in a bay boat with the Apex Predator
Don't let a water-cooled engine hold you back this frogging season
Photo provided by Josh Chauvin
The Apex Predator caught more than 1,000 frogs on only two trips using a water-cooled engine in public waterways.
On freshwater fishing trips out of my bay boat when the sun goes down, I don’t always immediately head for home.
If I hear the deep “ROAMP” of a noisy bullfrog, the action definitely continues.
However, when I want to fill the baskets, I go by boat, usually taking my shallow-drafting 13-foot Boston Whaler.
Having said that, I’ve made several productive trips frogging alone out of a center-console bay boat as well.
In the attached video, my wife is shown catching frogs from my bay boat and push-poling out with no assistance from the motor.
Heck, if a 115-pound woman can do it, just about anyone else can, too.
Of course, having any type of shallow-drafting boat with an air-cooled engine is optimal for catching frogs, but many people only have a normal water-cooled engine setup.
These boats can frog, too and here’s how:
The first step to frogging with a water-cooled outboard motor is finding a canal or bayou with preferably two-or-more-feet of water in the center.
And the canal should be wider than the length of the boat to make turns to get each frog. I make 90 degree turns (pointing the boat’s bow directly at the bank) to keep the motor in the canal’s center away from most underwater stumps.
Also, having little vegetation in the shallows next to the bank is ideal since normal outboards can have issues with grass and lilies. (I keep a scrub brush aboard in case I need to clean debris out the water pump’s exterior filter.)
Once a good waterway with frogs is found, having a long net and good push pole is a must.
The net will allow you to get close enough to most frogs without getting the boat stuck on the bank. And without a push pole, it’s really easy to clog up your boat’s water pump in the mud trying to reverse from the shallows.
I’ve frogged my entire life with a water-cooled outboard without any engine problems.
The frog net I demonstrated last year (along with my other frog gear) can be found by clicking here.
However, I’ve since created an even better solution: the two-sided boat pole (which I’ll do another article on soon).
On one end I have a good hand-made frog net that can be attached or detached with a pin, and the other end of the pole has my attachable push-pole head snapped on.
I use this strong 8- to 16-foot telescoping aluminum pole to reach out and catch the frog in the net. Then, I flip the pole around and push-pole the boat back to the center of the canal while the frog is stuck in the back of the net.
With only one long pole on the boat, there is more room aboard the vessel and fewer obstacles to trip on in the dark boat.
This pole is demonstrated in the attached video.
Since I’m usually on a fishing trip before frogging, my boat pole keeps me from having to keep a separate frog net aboard for the day’s trip because the pole also serves as a grass shrimp, gaff and landing net while fishing.
The frog net attachment simply stays stored in the boat’s storage compartment until frogging time.
But no matter the boat, sometimes frogs are in deep water or on stumps, which requires a hand grab.
For these frogs, many times I’ll have to leap from the boat or go walking through the muck to catch the frog, so when frogging in a bay boat, be prepared to get wet and dirty if you want to catch plenty.
Frog nets work best for frogs sitting on a flat mud bank or in shallow water less than 6 inches.
Bay boats work great for hand grabs since the larger front deck is easy to lie on. In my trips aboard a hard, short-decked aluminum hull, I’ve gotten bruised up badly every time.
Another benefit of using a fiberglass boat like my Boston Whaler is safety.
Often I bring my wife, my mom or my clients’ kids frogging, and safety is my number one priority.
I had a friend whose mudboat sunk on him one night, leaving his group stranded in the marsh. One wrong tilt for a metal boat will send it plummeting to the depths.
Another buddy broke down and had to spend the entire night in the woods. With my two boats, their trolling motors will eventually get me back to the launch if there ever would be engine troubles.
But it’s always wise to keep a safety kit of matches, a space blanket, compass, first aid supplies and medicines aboard any nighttime frogging adventure to be prepared for the unknown.
So have fun, but be ready to work. Push-poling out of the mud with a heavy vessel isn’t always easy, but tasty frog legs are always worth the grueling workout to me.
And yes, a 12-plus-inch drafting bay boat isn’t the most ideal way to bring home dozens of large swamp toads, but with the right net and push pole set-up, it can be done safely all summer long.
Just get ready for a big crew, because once your friends realize there is plenty of room aboard your large boat, they’ll all want to join in on the froggin’ action.
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