Nothing can match the exciting sound, and hopefully the feel, of a bass blowing up on a plastic frog.
The thrill of the explosion is amplified by the thought that frog bites are usually reserved for the biggest of largemouths, and, if the bass that smacked at the bait did indeed get its lips around the lure’s soft body, the angler is in for a battle.
“That’s the deal with fishing frogs, it’s usually the biggest fish around,” said Pete Ponds, a bass pro who loves the lures. “It is definitely a big fish bait, because it has such a large profile. I think everyone is aware of that.”
But, Ponds is quick to point out, there is a common misconception about frogs, lovingly named Freddie or Kermit by many fishermen.
“The idea that it should be limited to fishing around grass or other vegetation like lily pads just isn’t true,” he said. “Too many people, especially Barnett Reservoir fishermen, think that they can only throw a frog around pads.
“What they are doing is eliminating a lot of water for a lure that practically guarantees that if a fish hits it, it’s going to be a big one.”
Ponds proved exactly that on a recent 90-degree, overcast to partly cloudy day. Sure, there was a good topwater bite that started at sunrise, but Ponds rode it out until well past noon with his last frog bite coming at 3 p.m. By then, steam was rising from the water of a local private lake.
All of the bites came in water between three and eight feet deep, and none came around vegetation. They either came against logs or stumps or over a contour change on the lake’s bottom.
“I’m not sure what fish think it is, either a frog or a field mouse (or rat), but when you think about it, all lakes have frogs and field mice around the banks,” Ponds said. “It’s not just lakes that have pads or are known for having other vegetation. Frogs and mice are all the time swimming across the surface and they make a convenient meal with no place to hide from a bass' underwater attack.”
The change in philosophy toward non-vegetation use of frogs has caused quite a change in frog design, according to Dan Cunningham, owner of the Columbus-based Southern Lure Company, makers of the popular Scum Frog (www.scumfrog.com).
“Sure it has,” Cunningham said. “We’ve seen a lot of changes in designs over the past 20 years as frog usage has evolved. Mostly the changes have been tweaks in design and major changes in quality of materials.”
Cunningham began sponsoring Ponds a few years ago and Ponds has helped the company with tweaks in designs that now include a buzzer (Big Foot), popper (Trophy Series Chugger) and a walker that can be retrieved like a Zara Spook (Scum Dog), all of which support Ponds’ anytime and any lake frog philosophy.
Whether he’s throwing frogs around pads, grass, logs, stumps or just open water, Ponds always rigs the same way: The heaviest action rod he can find, 50- to 65-pound braided line and a high-quality baitcast reel.
“Braid has made a big difference in frogs,” he said. “Used to be, if you hooked a bass in pads on monofilament, even 25-pound mono, you had to go to the fish and get him. With braid, you can pull in the fish, the pads and even a small log if you have to.”
One key to frog success is not over-reacting to the strike.
“You have to fight the urge to immediately set the hook and wait until you feel the fish,” Ponds said. “That is critical. Once he grabs it, it’s such a large bait, you have to wait until he’s had time to inhale it. Then you stick him and nine times out of 10, you’ll have him deep enough that he can’t get away.”