With over 35 years of fishing all over the world under my belt, the one thing I have found to be a constant rush is top water fishing with frogs or rats. Whether it’s in lily pads, duckweed, slimy black moss of winter or the fall grass mats there is nothing like the explosive action of a bass slamming a frog. While most people think frog fishing is simply a “fall” pattern you can almost always find a top water frog bite someplace on most lakes in the south.
Let’s look at Lake Guntersville, recently rated as the #3 lake in the country by Bass Masters for its ability to produce largemouth year round. At just over 67,000 acres, Guntersville has often been referred to as the jewel of the south, especially when it comes to Frog or Rat fishing and the fall is the best!
First and foremost is the proper equipment. I use and supply my client with 7’ to 7’6” Heavy to Extra Heavy Duckett Micro Magic Rods, weight of the rods depends on the cover. LEW’s Speed Spool Reels 7.1-1 or 6.4-1 at a minimum and lined with 50-65 pound test Vicious Braid. Don’t know how to use a bait casting reel, not an issue, a professional bass guide can teach you in about 15 minutes. My choice of “Frogs” is SPRO Bronze Eye Frogs or Popping Frogs when grass is scattered. In various colors but with Black/red, Black Blue or Black Yellow being the most predominate.
Second, finding the proper area that will afford the angler the best opportunity, in other words where the bluegills, shad and other bass forage are. Some things to look for as you travel the lake include blackbirds or herons in reeds, lily pads or along the shore. Dragonflies are another good indicator as they are food for other bass forage. In the spring listen for the live frogs in the backs of coves. In the late summer thru fall look for those little black or white flies (gnats) that normally relate to grass mats. As you are fishing an area listen for bait fish such as bluegill or shad plucking insects off the bottom of the grass or lily pads. This will sound like a bowl of “Rice Krispies” with milk for breakfast…when you hear this there is most likely bass in the area!
Third, is grass! In the early spring look for new growth of duckweed and lily pads in the back of creeks and coves. These areas are used as nurseries for frogs and bluegill. Some of the best areas will have last year’s milfoil floating or caught on old lily pad stems. Perfect hiding places for Ms Bucketmouth to ambush unsuspecting prey. Over the summer months, I focus most of my time on lily pads that are flowering out. The rich smell of nectar attracts flies and other insects which in turn attracts bluegill, small birds and shad all of which are perfect food of bass. Starting at the end of July till Mid November the most well known time for frog fishing, some of the best areas are yellow or brown slime over milfoil. This will resemble burnt cheese as if you over cooked it in a skillet. In this situation look for what we call blow holes, areas where bass have come through the grass to eat. This can be critical as bass will usually stay in a general location as long as there is food. This pattern will only improve as the water temperatures drop in the fall sometimes as little as 5 or 10 degrees. Winter time, look for that black slimy hair like stuff that collects next to the banks. This slime will warm fast in sunlight drawing bait fish, which in turn you guessed it the bass follow.
The “retrieve” before you make that first cast, check your drag! It should tightened down almost all the way. Second, trim the legs of the frog to about 1 inch and place a rattle inside the frog. While there are several types of retrieves, I use two primary retrieves to locate and catch fish under heavy cover. To locate and cover vast amounts of grass I use a steady pull and stop retrieve. (Keep in mind I normally have clients with me and my primary mission is not to hook up a fish but rather get the fish to show themselves) Now, the preferred way in which most of the fish are caught is to work the frog with short pops or jerks or the rod tip down for about 12 to 18 inches, stop for a second and repeat. If you get your frog next to or in a blowhole stop and simply twitch the lure. Using this retrieve you are imitating a shad or frog hung up on the surface of the grass.
The hook set, I always explain to my clients to say the following phrase to themselves “one, two, set the hook” or as soon as you feel the fish. All the while you are looking for the frog. If the frog is still on the water leave it for a second and simply twitch the frog, the beast should return for a snack. Again, it is important to keep your rod tip low to the water. By doing this your line recovery with the swing of the rod upward increases three fold. Thus, turning the fish and bringing him to the surface of the grass. If you miss the hook set, throw back in the same location and hang on, normally the fish will return.
Try these simple techniques on your next trip. If you’re still having issues, you can learn a lot on the day on the lake with a Professional USCG Licensed Guide.
Capt Jake Davis, Lake Guntersville, Mid South Bass Guide, www.midsouthbassguide.com call me on my cell at (615) 613-2382