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Heart-attack fishing is what frog fishing is like

Published: Thursday, July 18, 2013 5:57 p.m. CST

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The last couple of days I have thought a lot about what it must be like to be near the bottom of the food chain. Think about it. Do we really go around in our daily lives worrying about being eaten? No. Never. In fact, we do the eating.

This week my family traveled to LaCrosse, Wisconsin to spend a few days camping and also to fish the famed Mississippi River and Lake Onalaska. As I was preparing for this trip I knew in my mind that I wanted the boys to experience frog fishing. Frogs are quite low on the food chain and big bass love to snack on them.

Seasoned anglers know exactly what I’m talking about, but if you’re first thoughts are, fishing for frogs, huh, then I should probably explain. Frog fishing refers to using a plastic, soft bodied, lure to catch bass.  

I like to say that frog fishing is heart-attack fishing. If you don’t have a stable ticker, then your doctor would not recommend this particular technique. It is intense, dramatic, and a whole lot of fun.

It is extremely popular in the northern states like Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. In other words, anywhere you find thick, nasty vegetation in the dead of summer, you will find local anglers that know about frog fishing.

These hollow body creations are a blast to cast deep into the slop. These lures are made to skim along the surface of stuff so gnarly you would normally never think of dropping a lure into it.

Make a long cast, thwack, and then let the thing sit for a few seconds. When you’re ready, give it a twitch or two. In general, you are trying to imitate a frog working its way through the top of the vegetation. When that little fake frog hits the right spot – look out!

The next thing you will see and hear is an explosion that engulfs your lure. It is quite similar to taking a nice sized rock and dropping it right on your lure. This is the heart attack part. Now comes the patience.

If you instinctively jerk when that fish explodes on it, most likely you will miss it. You have to wait just a second or two and then rear back and set the hook hard. During this eternity, which is literally just a second or two, that bass will be getting a better hold on that frog. Every frog fish I caught this week had the entire thing deep in its mouth.

Once you set the hook, you better hope that you remembered to spool up with heavy, and I mean heavy, line. The lily pads, milfoil, and other aquatic cabbage you have to rip that fish through requires the toughest and most durable of fishing lines. Many anglers spool up with 60-65-pound test braided line for this particular task.

It is an absolute blast to winch a heavy bucketmouth through the muck and pull him into the boat just covered in sloppy, green, disgusting goop. Seriously.  

You can always spot someone who has tried frog fishing. When you mention it their eyes light up.

It is a type of fishing that everyone needs to witness and try at some point in his or her angling lives. It is most definitely on the ‘ole diehard bassman’s bucket list.  

I’ll be honest; the bite up on the Mississippi was not what I was hoping for this week. In fact, for the boys it was quite tough. They had heard me spend countless hours building the legend that is LaCrosse fishing. It is that good!  

We still caught some real good ones, and hammered some excellent frog fish, but the dad in me was really striving for one of those once-in-a-lifetime trips. Sometimes you really go to town on them, and other times it seems like you have to beg for a bite, but what makes it great is the anticipation and hope that the next cast is the cast. The cast that you will never forget. The cast that you will tell your friends about.  

If you’re frog fishing, that next cast always has that potential to be a showstopper. Good luck.

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