“Bass can be really pressured by late August, but there’s still a lot of fish shallow – even big ones. Frogs come over and through thick vegetation cleanly and allow you to cover water quickly while searching for active fish,” McKinney says. Key locations include anywhere vegetation exists near current, or where two different types of vegetation merge. “Look for long run out points with grass mats or even in the backs of creeks,” advises McKinney, who also likes to fish frogs through thick duckweed mats that form in slackwater pockets and coves.
“I start fishing frogs once water temps hit about 55 degrees in the spring – in current, on grass, wood, even rocks – but they really come into their own in August and September.” McKinney most often uses a Scum Frog Launch Frog tied to 65-pound braid. His preferred frog rod is a St. Croix BassX 7’4” heavy power, fast action casting rod. “It’s got enought length and just enough tip that you can throw it a mile. Long casts are key when covering water, and when bass hit, the length helps pick up line and stick them fast. St. Croix has that same rod in its Mojo Bass Series as well, along with a 70HF and a 710HF, which make great frog rods, too.”
McKinney keeps two rods rigged when frogging, one with a fast 8.3:1 reel for bomb casting and searching, and one with a more powerful 6.3:1 reel once he’s on them. “I like the faster reel because it allows me to cover more water, but you do lose some cranking power. The powerful 74HF BassX rod with a 6.3:1 reel is an ideal setup once you stop looking and start catching. Frog bass can really get wrapped up in the weeds, so there is often a lot of pumping and cranking going on. You need power for that.”
McKinney often uses a steady walking retrieve when frogging. “I usually burn or walk them, but once I find them I slow down a bit. A cool thing about the frog bite is that if you miss a fish you can usually get them to come back up and hit again with a quick follow-up cast.”
When bass aren’t schooling out deep or marauding the shallow reeds, weeds, and pads, late-summer bass often hold on deep break lines, humps, points, ledges and other structure. Start your search by locating the depth of the thermocline on your fishfinder – the point on the water column where warmer surface water meets the cooler, deeper water. Because cold water is denser, it’ll often show up prominently on your sonar. If the thermocline on your lake is currently at 15 feet, for example, find areas where significant structure like channel edges, points, or humps intersect that depth and you’ll often find bass in the neighborhood.