Try something new: Froggin' for bass
Sometimes an angler can get into a sort of fishing rut.
He or she goes to the same spots, fishes the same methods, and hopes to catch the same fish species. It's fun sometimes, however, to change up, do something different, and chase another fish species.
Lots of anglers in the Midwest get walleyes on the brain, and for good reason, as we have some great fishing available in lots of lakes and rivers in this part of the world for those who like the marble-eyed fish. Bass, however, can be a great mid-summer action alternative if the walleyes are a bit finicky, or if an angler wants a new challenge.
Anglers who fish lakes with lots of shallow cover like lily pads, wild rice, and pencil reeds might want to consider adding a soft-bodied, floating frog to their fishing arsenal. Lakes with this type of cover often have good populations of largies that call the shallows home and "froggin" is a great way to fish over this cover and extract some of the big fish that live below.
These fish are also often nearly inaccessible to anglers using other lures. Plus, topwater frog bites offer some of the most explosive fishing action available!
This fishing requires stout baitcasting gear and braided line in the 50-pound test size range. If you are new to baitcasting, you don't have to break the bank when acquiring a rod and reel, though some casting practice might be needed. Lew's has several rod and reel combinations in their Mach series that are affordable, good quality, and will do a nice job for frog fishing. Plus, these models will double for good bottom bouncer rods when walleyes are targeted.
I spool my froggin' rod with 50-pound P-Line XTCB-8 braid and tie on a Strike King KVD Sexy Frog. Long casts and a straight, steady retrieve will often lead to explosive bites from shallow largemouth bass. One key, however, is to pause a bit before the hookset to be sure the fish has the bait. Many novice froggers have a tendency to set too soon and pull the frog from the fish when the fish "blows up" on the lure but doesn't actually have it yet.
One trick I learned from Fishing Hall of Famer and veteran frog fisherman Duane Peterson is to keep the rod tip high during the retrieve. This forces the angler to lower the rod before setting the hook, which often gives the fish the time needed to fully engulf the frog.
Another tip I learned from Duane involves cover selection. Duane finds that while one form of cover, say a reed bank, may have a fish or two in it, the best spots are often areas where multiple forms of cover intersect. For example, while fishing and filming a TV show with Duane last summer, we had some of our best action come from reeds where other weeds were mixed on the edges.
Frog selection is another important consideration for fishing success. Various frog colors will work and it pays to experiment to let the fish show you the "color of the day" that they prefer. The Sexy Frog comes in a bunch of fishy colors and has two other important components that froggers appreciate. First, it has a big, strong double hoo. Second, it collapses easily on the bite, which leads to more hook-ups!
Using some of the tips provided here can probably lead to some explosive topwater fishing action on your next outing! As always, good luck on the water and remember to include a youngster in your next outdoors adventure.
Mike Frisch is a western Minnesota fishing guide and co-host of the popular Fishing the Midwest TV series. Visit www.fishingthemidwest.com or follow Fishing the Midwest on Facebook for more "fishy" stuff.