I like to fish three lures at this time of the year, a Mann's Super Frog, which is hollow-bodied, a Mann's HardNose Frog and a Mann's HardNose Craw. On my casting deck, I'll have five rods - one with a black HardNose Frog, one with a white HardNose Frog, another with a black Super Frog, one with a white Super Frog and the fifth with a black/red-flake Mann's HardNose Craw.
Each of these frog-type lures will catch bass on any given day. However, I want to know which frog and what color frog the bass are most likely to take, not only on the day I'm fishing, but also during the time of day I'm fishing.
At Ross Barnett in August, there's always a good bite early in the morning and then a lull in the fishing action. Once the sun climbs high in the sky at about noontime, the bass usually will begin biting actively. As the water starts to warm, the bass holding on the river ledges will move to the deep parts of those ledges. Many bass fishermen, by this time, already will have given up on bass fishing for the day, or they've gone in to eat lunch and cool off.
You can find where the bass are most actively feeding on Ross Barnett by using your ears instead of your eyes. When you hear bluegills smacking, then you know these bass are nearby and are feeding on the bluegills. In August, you'll catch a lot of bass in the 1- to 2-pound range, but also, you may catch some nice 4- to 6-pounders. Although Ross Barnett isn't really known as a big-bass lake, there's a good number of bass that will weigh up to 5 pounds there.
Where and how to fish
I'll mainly be fishing lily pads out on the edge of the river channel, and will target points created by the lily pads. I'll also fish mouths of coves on the edge of the river channel.
When you're fishing the frog in August, you'll get a lot of bites, but you'll be extremely lucky if you hook 50 percent of the bass that attack the frog. I'll be fishing with 40-pound-test Stren Sonic Braid Line, a heavy-action 7-foot, 11-inch Pinnacle flipping rod and a Pinnacle 6.4:1 gear ratio reel, due to the thickness of the lily pads. The braided line will cut through the lily pads, and the rod will help you pull the bigger bass out.
I'll start fishing in the mornings before the sun comes up with black frogs and alternate between the HardNose Frog and the Super Frog, until I determine which one the bass prefer on that day. Later in the morning, I'll switch from the black frog to the white frog. Sometimes if the bass won't hit the white frog, I'll go back to fishing the black frog. On some days, the bass just seem to prefer one of those two colors over the other.
I usually cast the frog as far back into the lily pads as I can where the bass will be holding close to the edge of the river channel. I always cast further into the pads than I think I need to, so I can let the frog make a commotion as it heads to the edge of those lily pads. This way the bass can see the frog coming before it reaches the spot where the bass are holding. Sometimes bass prefer a steady retrieve as the frog returns to the boat. However, other times I'll hop the frog through the pads. Pad fishing is very exciting. The bass may blow up on the frogs; at other times, the bass will jump out of the water, try to land on the frog and eat it, and sometimes a bass just may slap the frog up in the air.
The bass that come up and attack the frog violently will move from the deep side of a ledge and possibly jump out of the water to take it. These fish are the ones you're least likely to catch. A bass that comes up behind the frog and sucks it into its mouth will be the one you'll probably catch. But you still have to hesitate just to make sure the bass has the frog in its mouth before you set the hook.
The fifth rod I haven't talked about that will be rigged the same way as my frog-fishing rods is the one with a Mann's HardNose Craw below a 1-ounce slip sinker. When a bass misses a frog, I'll retrieve it quickly, pick up the rod with the HardNose Craw and pitch it to the spot where the bass missed the frog. I use the 1-ounce weight to cause the Craw to fall very fast into thick cover to get a reaction strike. Bass will react more quickly and are more likely to take a fast-falling bait than a slow one.
Generally the bass will take the HardNose Craw, which is about 3 inches long, as it falls. Oftentimes you won't even know the bass is taking the Craw until you see your line jump or move off to one side. I'm using the Craw strictly as a second-chance bait.
In a good day of August fishing at Ross Barnett, if I get 25 to 30 bites, I can land eight to 12 of those bass. In the mornings and afternoons, the bass will be roaming and scattered out. But in the middle of the day, they're looking for shade under the lily pads. So midday is the best time to locate schooled-up bass, concentrated on the edge of the river channel at Ross Barnett.