Chickamauga Lake, TN
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The air is crisp and pure, a heavy dew is on the gunnel of the boat. Your main mission is to wrangle the biggest bass of your life, but how? For many of us in the southeast and north, fall fishing means the perfect time to catch a big bass on top. Specifically in matted grass. For many of us, that means frogs. There are many different factors that can play in to being successful when frog fishing, and hopefully by the end of this article you will be a frog fishing master!
One of the keys to being successful when frog fishing is having the right gear. The right reel, the right rod, the right line. This is the foundation and can make or break catching a fish of a lifetime. When looking for a frogging reel look for a reel with a MINIMUM of a 7.1:1 gear ratio. If you can find one with a faster ratio, even better. This will allow you to catch up to a fish quick after they take your frog and get them out of heavy cover. When looking for a rod, 7’3” to 7’6” Medium Heavy to Heavy Action is imperative. I prefer a medium heavy, I believe it gives enough backbone to get a fish out of heavy cover but enough tip to manipulate your frog for the right retrieve. When picking your line, ALWAYS USE BRAID. Braid is important to bring those fish out of the thick grass that most of this fish will be slurping your frog in. This also allows for longer casts. The last thing you want to do is lose your tournament because your line snaps when you are hauling in that massive bucketmouth with 20 pounds of grass attached.
There is a TON of options out there for frogs. Which frog is best? That is a loaded question, everyone has their brand they love more than the other. Personally, I love the trusty dusty Spro Bronzeye series. Many other brands also work, on a budget H20 Express makes a great frog as does Booyah. Stanford Baits just came out with an awesome design, the BOOM BOOM FROG. It has a great hook and a “Frog Fur” top that attaches to the top of the fishes mouth and increases hookup ratios. After you have picked your frog, there are a few modifications that can help increase your chances at hooking up with your next PB. The color doesn’t have to be rocket science. My person preference is very complicated. I like a dark bellied frog, and a light bellied frog. I like light colored bellies on sunny days, and dark colored frogs for cloudy days. Your lake may be different though, so play with the different colors and let the fish do the choosing.
Bend the Hooks Out!
Take a pair of needle nose pliers and slight bend the hooks to where they catch your fingers when you lightly (I emphasize lightly, they are called hooks for a reason people) run your finger across the top of the frog.
Cut the legs!
Trim your legs to where they are about two inches long. Many times this helps the fish not miss your lure because it is a smaller target. This also helps achieve longer casts because of the reduction of drag caused by the longer legs.
Add Some Weight!
Add two 1/16 ounce bullet weights to the inside of the frog. This helps the frog sit lower on the mat and create more disturbance. The weights will also clang around inside the frog creating a rattle effect. You can also actually add rattles in replacement of legs. More sound the better.
Where To Toss Em and the Retrieve
We have the right equipment, and the right frog, all we are lacking is the right location. (Which is 90% of the battle might I add.) If you aren’t fishing the right grass at the right location at the right time, you will be making lots of casts. One of my biggest suggestions is this, listen. When you pull up to a grass mat, turn your motor off and listen. If you aren’t hearing the “Rice Crispy sound” you aren’t at an active mat. That sound is exactly like a bowl of cereal. Snapping, crackling, and popping of baitfish in the top portion of the mat. These fish are sucking down the brim and shad that are feeding on all the bugs that are living in the decaying grass that makes the mat. It is important that the mats you fish are close to a highway. What I mean by that is a creek channel, or some type of structure that can take these fish to deeper water for their winter haunts.
The type of grass you fish is also very important. If you aren’t fishing the right grass, the fish will not be there. On my lake, if you find milfoil mats, you are much more likely to have success. If you can find a mat with a good mix of grass that is in the process of “Hollowing Out” you are much more likely to find fish in the mat. When I say, Hollowed Out, I mean that the grass is detaching from the bottom, creating a thick mat on top, and a hollow area in the water column allowing those fishing to easily ambush prey. Milfoil, coontail, and hydrilla are the main types of grass that are most productive for finding frog fish in the mats.
The retrieve is pretty simple, but you need to change it up. Start out with Jerk-pause retrieve. Speed it up, slow it down, and then let the frog sit for 5 seconds. You can also try a steady retrieve starting off. Like anything, let the fish dictate your retrieve. Don’t be hard headed and think you HAVE to only retrieve one way. Nature is sporadic, so should your retrieves.
Lowering the Boom
The final piece to this puzzle, and for many people the hardest part, is the hookset. I know how hard it is not to rip the lips off of a big largemouth that just flushed your frog. Many times a premature hookset is what makes and breaks a successful outing. When the fish takes your frog, count to three. One-One thousand, two-one thousand, three- one thousand, BOOM. It also helps to not look directly at your frog, look at it out of the corner of your eye. Sounds crazy, but it helps.
I hope that these few tips help you to be more successful in catching fish on frogs in the mat!