All topwater strikes are special, and yet few eruptions compare with that of a Goliath largemouth inhaling a -hollow-body frog in the lily pads. Not only does frogging over pads give you a great shot at a topwater trophy, but this vegetation also tends to hold large numbers of fish. Fishing this heavy cover effectively, however, requires proper gear and an understanding of how to bring a frog to life. Here’s what you need to know to raise a giant.
Bad to the (Back) Bone
Leave the medium-action spinning outfit with the 8-pound line in the rod locker. Getting a toad out of the pads requires a lot more winching power. Opt for a heavy-action baitcasting rod measuring 7 or 8 feet. It needs to be able to handle 1⁄2- to 11⁄2-ounce lures and heavy line. Match your stick with a quality reel that has plenty of line capacity. A Shimano Compre 7-foot 2-inch heavy-fast rod with an Abu Garcia Revo SX-HS low-profile is my go-to outfit for frogging. Spool with 50- or 65-pound braid to wrangle fish from the thick vege-tation. While there are countless frog options on the market, those with rubber-tassel legs are my favorites, as they maintain action at any speed.
Tassel-style frog legs give baits more action at low speeds.
Not all lily pads are created equal. This is especially true if you’re hunting for giant bass. Huge expanses of lively green pads look tempting but often aren’t worth your time. In sprawling pad beds, bass can be almost anywhere, and the heavy growth makes them difficult to extract. Smaller beds tend to concentrate fish and are easier to work from different angles. Look for ones with other elements mixed in, such as stumps, logs, or a deep ditch, which can be identified by a void in the surface vegetation. If you can pinpoint a bed with any of these characteristics that also happens to be growing in deeper water, you may have just hit the jackpot.
Cross Those Eyes
Drawing strikes and planting hooks with hollow-body frogs takes practice. Long casts will give you the best opportunity to contact a fish and give it enough time to track your bait and strike. A long cast will also produce a hard landing, which can be the key to getting a fish’s attention right away. After the frog smacks down, hop it across the pads, letting it sit still for a few seconds anytime it reaches an open hole. Shaking the rod slightly to get the legs moving while it’s resting can seal the deal with a tracking bass. The hardest part is waiting to set the hook when you see the explosion. If you swing instantly, you’re just going to pull the frog away from the fish. Instead, pause for just a moment to allow the bass to turn its head and compress the bait, then take up the slack line and set as hard as you can. To make it easier for the hooks to grab, bend them up slightly and sharpen them frequently. Also, be sure to periodically squeeze the water out of your frog to stop it from sinking.
Photographs by Bill Lindner