Fish frogs for bass all summer-long

Fishing frog baits can be an exciting way to target bass in Mississippi waters through the summer. Whenever bass are shallow, tie one on.

Tyler Russell spotted movement in the vegetation and quickly sailed a Snag Proof Phat Frog to the spot. A big bass exploded on it a split second later. He snapped his rod back and set the hook, quickly prying the bass from the salad patch.

Russell, a former Mississippi State quarterback, knows a few things about throwing footballs and casting lures, and he’s better than average at both.

Though it may surprise many to learn that he’s an avid angler, Russell has been fishing since he could walk. His earliest recollections of fishing precede his football career, and fishing has always played a prominent role in his life.

After they recover from the spawn, bass will feed heavily to get back to full strength, and big baits like frogs are meals they love.

“I can remember going to the lake and spending all day with my dad and enjoying every minute of it,” he said. “In fact, I believe the constant casting, sometimes up to 8 hours a day helped me build arm strength and develop my passing motion that later came in handy on the football field.”

These days, Russell is an up-and-coming angler who has set his sights on competing against the best bass fishermen in the world. In the meantime, he’s still fishing regularly and catching bass almost everywhere he goes. Fishing frogs is a favorite technique he employs when bass are in shallow water around vegetation and wooden structure.

“I’ve been fortunate to live in Brandon the last year-and-a-half and have really enjoyed catching bass on Ross Barnett Reservoir,” Russell said. “Barnett is my No. 1 favorite lake to fish frogs due to the vast amount of vegetation on the lake. There’s plenty of lily pads and assorted grasses and vegetation growing almost everywhere in shallow water, and that makes for some outstanding shallow-water fishing almost year-round.”

Shallow water frog bite

Late May and June are perfect months to target bass in shallow water, as they’ve recovered from the spawn and are gorging on any baitfish they can find.

“I like to fish any type of vegetation, but particularly where you have a couple types of vegetation, such as lily pads and grass,” Russell said. “When you have different types of vegetation meeting in one area, that transition zone is usually a good area to target.”

Russell like to fish in the 2- to 5-foot range.

“I’ll key on vegetation, but you can’t overlook stumps and docks, either,” he said. “I’ve had success fishing frogs around docks and shaded areas in the shallow water, too. I’ll use that Phat Frog … like a topwater bait, searching for bass and drawing strikes. The action is like a Boy Howdy topwater bait; you can twitch it once or twice, and it will stay in the strike zone a little longer, too.”

Russell’s preferred colors

“My go-to color really doesn’t depend on the time of day or conditions, but I’ll always start out with a white frog,” Russell said. “I’ll fish that color all day if they hit it, and I’m not afraid to use it at any time.”

As a general rule, Russell will use white on bright, sunny days and black on darker, cloudy days.

“If the bream are shallow and bedding in May or June, I’ll use a brown frog as well,” Russell said. “The brown mimics the bream, and they really key on that color under certain conditions. But overall, I like to stay with those three colors as my main frog colors, and I’ll usually catch bass on one of them.”

Tyler Russell caught this lunker Ross Barnet bass recently on a white Snagproof frog.

Quality bites

In addition to the weedless aspect of fishing a frog in shallow-water vegetation, frogs tend to attract more quality bites, the way jigs have produced big fish.

“You’re going to catch a lot of quality bass in the 3- to 5-pound range when you’re fishing frogs, and that’s the size you’ve got to have when your competing in tournaments these days,” Russell said. “On Barnett, you’re fishing for five bites in a tournament, and they have to be quality fish if you want to get a check or win.”

Best time to fish frogs

“A lot of people think frogs are only good to fish early and late, but I like to fish them all day if they’re biting them,” Russell said. “Cloudy, overcast days or days when you have a little drizzle or rain are very good days to catch bass on frogs all day-long. If you’re looking for a big-fish bite, you might even catch them on sunny days right up during the middle of the day between 11 and 2. You might not get as many bites, but the ones you catch will usually be quality bass too.”

Best technique

“Most of the time, I prefer to fish the frogs fast and cover a lot of water,” Russell said. “If you find an aggressive bass, they will strike it, and if they’re not actively feeding, they may just swirl or swat at it, so you’ll know that bass are in the area. Although they might not want the frog retrieved fast, they may bite it if you slow it down and walk the dog, or they might hit a follow-up bait.”

Soft plastics like floating lizards, Senkos or trick worms are follow-up baits that are deadly on bass when they’re striking short. If you know where they are and can put that trick worm or Senko on them, they’ll usually eat it, and you’re back in the game.

Whether using the frog as a search bait or as your primary fish catcher, they are the ticket when the topwater bite is on.

Ken Covington’s prowess

Ken Covington of Daleville scoured the mirror-smooth water looking for any sign of a bass and quickly spotted one slashing the surface near a stump on the edge of a shallow drop. Covington cast a popping frog a few feet past the area and worked it back near the stump, but it never made it past.

Ka-Whoosh! A bass smashed the black frog and bore down into the roots trying its best to escape. Covington, an avid bass fisherman, snapped the rod back and drove the hooks deep into the jaw of the bass a split second before it burst through the surface, wallowing wildly again and again as it tried to free itself.

Keith Covington displays a lunker bass he caught on a frog on Okatibbee Lake last summer.

Covington set the hook to jerk the bass up and out of the stumps and hidden dangers on the bottom. He’s one of the top frog fishermen in Mississippi, and he rarely loses a bass that strikes his frog baits. You can be sure one of his rods will have a frog tied on no matter the time of year and conditions.

“I like to throw a frog any time bass are in shallow water, and that’s most of the year here in the Magnolia State,” Covington said. “There’s just something about catching a bass on a frog. When they strike, it sends a rush through you that you just won’t get fishing any other lure.”

Fast retrieve = Red hot action

Covington doesn’t mess around when he fishes a frog. He’s looking for active bass, and his sizzling-fast retrieve makes for some red-hot strikes and plenty of action.

“I like to use the longest rod I can find and make the cast just as far as I can,” Covington said. “I can cover a of water and put that frog in front of a lot of bass, and the strikes I get and fish I catch are usually quality fish; they’re the bigger ones looking for a quick meal.”

Even when most bass are not active, Covington will get a few quality bites, and that translates into quality bass.

“I like to fish the Booyah popping frog most of the time, because I think it entices the active bass into biting,” he said. “I use it most of the time, but there are some instances where the regular frog will draw more strikes; sometimes, that’s when most of the fish are not actively feeding.

“I don’t care if it’s on a small lake or big impoundment, there are always a few shallow-water bass looking for an easy meal, and they’re always ready to smash that frog. I can’t tell you why they prefer one over another, but I do know that they will bite when a frog swims by overhead.”

Bass will readily eat frog baits, but if they only swirl at them and miss them, they’re often caught on follow-up baits.

Covington usually uses a dark-colored frog, either black or brown.

“Most of the time, I fish a dark frog almost exclusively, because I have confidence that they’ll hit the black frog,” said Covington. “I know some people say use dark colors early and late, but I actually catch bass on them at any time. Now, when they hit the frog, you’ve got to set the hook as hard as you can, let them know you mean business and get them out of there or you’ll wind up empty handed.”

Mississippi’s hot frog-fishing destinations

  1. Ross Barnett Reservoir
  2. Kemper Lake
  3. Lake Columbia
  4. Turkey Fork Lake
  5. Okatibbee Lake
About Michael O. Giles 407 Articles
Mike Giles of Meridian has been hunting and fishing Mississippi since 1965. He is an award-winning wildlife photographer, writer, seminar speaker and guide.