Fishing the Midwest
It was almost a year ago last summer that I got to spend a day on the water chasing largemouth bass with Mike Frisch. Some, maybe much of the time, when we think about late summer fishing for largemouth we think weedlines and crankbaits or jigworms. However, throwing artificial frogs in shallow water can be equally productive, very visual, and will often get the bigger bass to hit. You’ll see every strike: Sometimes the bass will lightly slurp the frog off the surface, other times they’ll absolutely destroy it. Often you’ll see a wake in the water as the bass approaches the frog, or you’ll see the lily-pads or reeds moving as the bass approaches. Either way, it’s one of the most exciting ways to catch largemouth bass. Here’s how you can get in to the action.
Find a lake that has shallow water cover and a good population of bass. Lily-pads and reeds will often be the best shallow vegetation for bass, but there will be other options in some bodies of water.
Approach this shallow cover quietly. If you make too much noise, you’ll see the water boil as the bass spook out of the area. There are several things that can cause fish-scaring noise. Approaching too closely with the outboard running will do so, as will an electric motor running on high speed. It’s best to keep the electric running slowly. Shutting it off then turning it back on on high speed will spook fish, as will tackle boxes or whatever dropped on the floor of the boat. Too much quick motion can also spook fish. It might sound over the top, but if you know you’ll be fishing shallow, wear clothing colors that blend in with the sky. The sky is the background to what the fish see, and light colored clothing blends in with the sky better than dark clothing. It’s a little thing, but it makes a difference.
Now that you’re in the area to be fished, you need a bait. You want something that will come through the heavy cover without getting hung up. A KVD Poppin’ Perch, Sexy Frog, or a Hack Attack Pad Perch will do that. They all have a different action in the water, and sometimes a particular action will be more appealing to the bass. For instance, the Poppin’ Perch creates more noise than the Frog. Everyone in the boat should be throwing something different until the fish reveal their preference.
On our day on the water last year, we worked large reed beds. We fished quickly and covered a lot of water. We threw along the edges of the reeds, and also cast beyond the heaviest clumps and retrieved our bait so it went right through the middle of those heavy clumps. We retrieved the baits with a straight retrieve sometimes, but we found that a stop and go retrieve was best. Most strikes came as the bait started moving after a brief pause.
One of the keys is to try not to get too excited when a fish hits, and this can be hard to do. When you see the strike, drop the tip of your rod to the fish, then set the hook hard.
This is heavy cover fishing, so you need equipment designed for heavy cover. 65 pound test P-Line XTCB Braid is the way to go. It doesn’t stretch and enables long casts. That’s what you want for frog-fishing. There are rods made just for froggin’, but I like a Lew’s Flippin’ rod teamed with a Lew’s reel with a high speed retrieve. When the fish hits, you need to get it coming your way immediately, and this rod/reel combination allows that to happen. Additionally, this combo is outstanding for pitching jigs or throwing spinnerbaits. I like that versatility.
If this visual action sounds like something that you would enjoy, now and for the next month, it’s available. Make time to get in on it.