Topwater baits are not the most versatile of lures. But at this time of year the rules are different, with bass in various stages of the spawn concentrated in and around the shallows. Right now, you can fish a variety of situations with nothing more than a plastic frog-and have a heck of a lot of fun doing it. Here are four situations where frog lures work best in spring:
Frogs, and other floating lures, offer a distinct advantage for bed fishing: You can position one directly over a bed and let it remain there. Start by casting beyond the bed to avoid spooking the fish. If the spot is close to shore, try to cast your lure onto the bank, then gently slide it into the water. Swim the frog slowly over the target and let it stay on the surface where the bass will notice it. Be patient. After a minute or so, a slight twitch is often all it takes to get a strike.
Even when you can't see the beds, cover such as downed trees, stumps, weeds, and lily pads are all excellent places to catch spawning bass, as well as fish preparing for or just finishing the process. There's almost no cover too thick or too gnarled to fish effectively with a weedless frog. Here, experienced fishermen commonly use a stiff flipping rod and 50- or 65-pound-test braided line. With this setup, they "walk" a frog over weeds or around wood by twitching the rod just enough to make the lure "sashay" from side to side.
You can also skip a frog across the surface to get beneath docks or overhanging branches. Try to goad a bass into striking by letting the lure sit for a while before retrieving it.
Perhaps the most common way to fish a plastic frog in spring is with a slow stop-and-go retrieve along the outside edges of shoreline cover. You may pick up bedded bass here, but these are prime areas for prespawn fish, especially in slightly deeper water. Make a long cast, then slowly twitch the frog back. Be sure to work any small sections of isolated cover near the edge, even tiny weed patches.
Use the same slow stop-and-go retrieve across grassy and rocky points, especially those leading into spawning coves. These often serve as staging areas for prespawn bass, as well as for fish that have just left the spawning beds.
Finally, you don't need visible cover to use a frog. On clear lakes, bass often stage and even spawn in deeper water near steep-falling shorelines and bluff banks. Cast your frog parallel to the bank, then work it back with a steady retrieve. Generally, it's best to get the lure close to the bluff. You may be surprised at the depths from which a bass will come to nail a floating frog.