Outdoors: Get on board with frog fishing at Lake Guntersville
by Charles Johnson
Sep 29, 2013 | 2064 views |  0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A heavy action rod and braided line are a must for frog fishing the grass. (Photo by Charles Johnson/The Anniston Star)
A heavy action rod and braided line are a must for frog fishing the grass. (Photo by Charles Johnson/The Anniston Star)
Autumn begins its foliage preview along the lake shores across the northeast tier of our state. Cool mornings and mild days trigger the urge for anglers and bass to get on the move.

There is probably no better time to be outdoors. And no better time to cast a topwater lure.

Big bass once again begin to roam the shallows of lakes and rivers. They gorge themselves to prepare their bodies for the coming winter. Topwater strikes from bass can be ferocious. Anyone with a weak heart or un-easy nerves may want to watch from the sidelines.

Mats of grass

Under the summer sun, milfoil and Hydrilla has grown to the surface and meshed together like a yellow-green shag carpet. Large mats spread across coves and sloughs along the Tennessee River. These thick grass braids are cursed by some and loved by others. But they provide plenty of cover for bass on Guntersville and other lakes in the region.

“The topwater bite is starting to pick up some with the cooler temps,” said Doug Campbell, Lake Guntersville guide and owner of Waterfront Tackle in Scottsboro.

Millfoil grass mats can cover acres of water across sections of the lake extending several hundred yards from shore or as an island over a hump or point. Some of mats will carry a bright green slime like layer over the thicker underwater grass. The matted grass is not pretty to look at but, it is in this grass that bass hide out, waiting to ambush an easy meal.

About the only way to fish these mats is with a weedless plastic frog or rat. These lure can be hopped or twitched across and through the slime without snagging any of the weeds. Some favorite colors of rat and frog anglers are white, green, grey and black.

“Fish the frog similar to a Pop-R with short twitches,” said Campbell. “Pull the frog downward and not up to keep pressure on the grass.”

This action makes the lure look and act like a live meal along with creating a greater disturbance on the water. Nothing will make your heart skip a beat than the explosive strike of a bass erupting through the grass to reach the frog.

Frog fishing

Soft plastic frogs and also rats work well on the grass mats for bass at the Big G. Several manufacturers produce these lures in life-like fashion. Sometimes it is almost impossible to determine if these lures are actually real.

Sometimes the grass mats can be difficult to figure out as to just where the bass are hiding. Look for openings or pockets in the mats to give the fish an opportunity to come up and take the lure. According to Campbell as the weather cools the mats begin to thin out allowing the bass to see the lure better.

“When fishing frogs or rats on the grass mats use a 65- to 80-pound-test braided line,” said Campbell. “Bass can bury up in the weeds and it takes a strong line to get them out.”

Local anglers on Guntersville say you can fish a mat over one-quarter of mile without a strike. Then, bam, you can have three or four good, solid strikes in one small hole.

“You will want a heavy-action rod and a good reel to get the bass out of the heavy grass,” said BASS. pro Chris Lane.

The stiffer action rod and strong line helps to get a good hook-set. Also, a high-speed bait casting reel will assist in pulling out the bass that bury down in the thicker mats.

Frog-tober techniques

First time anglers may be intimated by the large expanses of grass mats on Lake Guntersville. There really is no starting point. One tactic is put the trolling motor down and start casting. However, mat edges that are on or near creek channels is a good starting point.

“Look for grass mats that are in 6 to 8 feet of water,” said Lane. “Many of the larger bass will hold on the mat edges to ambush shad or bream.”

Anglers should target mats that look old or even dead. Yellow-green to brown colored grass mats seem to produce more fish. Sometimes smaller isolated mats will not have been fished out by other anglers. These may hold only few fish, but most of the time the fish will be larger.

Lane advises to make a long cast with the frog across the weed mat. Pop the frog quickly a few times until it is off of the mat. Stop the frog and let it sit still for several seconds before moving it any. Most strikes occur when the frog is motionless. Expect a sudden and large explosion when the bass hits.

The most difficult part of frog fishing is a few seconds hesitation before setting the hook. It takes practice and nerves of steel not to react to the strike. Some anglers say you need to be surprised, like you’re not expecting the strike to happen. A slight delay on jerking will result in more hook-ups with the frog.

Another trick Lane uses in the matted milfoil is fishing the holes in the mat. These holes are where bass have broken through to strike at a bluegill or shad. If the bass did it once, there is a good chance it will do it again.

“Frog color is not a big factor in fishing the mats,” Lane said. “If the bass are after shad I throw a light color and if they are chasing bluegill I use a darker color.”

Another way to dupe a bass out of a mat after a missed strike on a frog or rat, is to keep another lure ready and cast immediately to the same area. Trickworms, Senkos, or swimming Flukes cast immediately back to the same spot may solicit a second strike from the bass.

Charles Johnson is the Star’s outdoors editor. You can reach Charles at ChrJohn7@aol.com
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