Dale Bowman with his best bass of the summer, caught while frog fishing.

Summer: It’s a fish-eat-frog world

SHARE Summer: It’s a fish-eat-frog world
SHARE Summer: It’s a fish-eat-frog world

The largemouth bass blew up through the pond scum and aquatic vegetation off the point like a small whale sounding.

It was textbook.

I caught my biggest largemouth bass of the summer Sunday while frog fishing, one of my favorite ways.

The rain pouring down at the start was perfect, at least for my plans.

I zipped my cell and wallet in a plastic bag, stuffed them in my shorts and went frog fishing.

As summer arrived the last few weeks, ponds and lakes head toward the thick aquatic growth and scum of summer, the stuff perfect to burp an imitation frog across.

Art Frisell at Triangle Sports and Marine taught me tricks and basics of frog fishing when we fished tournaments together around the turn of the millennium.

Basics, such as a heavy-action rod (think pool cue), braided line (essential for pulling big bass out of heavy cover), Scum Frogs and how to work a frog right.

I use Spro and River2Sea frogs, but the simplicity of a Scum Frog makes it my favorite.

Frisell’s teachings stick with me like a sensei’s.


A pond ripe for fishing for largemouth with imitation frogs.

Credit: Dale Bowman

The way to work a frog right is to be the frog. Go fast over open water, rest on lily pads, weed mats or scum pads.

I began fancasting and the first blow-up came within five minutes. The bass completely whiffed (Hello, Javier Baez.) Since it had not been stung by the hook, I threw back to the same floating mat. This time, the bass ate the frog. But it came unhinged almost immediately, my error. (Hello, Alexei Ramirez.)

0-2 was not that bad of a start. At least I was working the frog right to attract attention. Frog fishing can be like a baseball season, it is a marathon not a sprint.

I knew timing was right as a bullfrog croaked under a willow to my right and a green heron squawked off.

The next bass blew up and missed off a mat floating in the middle over the deepest water, rather inexplicably. 0-for-3. (Hello, Adam Eaton.) I must have been working the frog right because a belted kingfisher did flyover and nearly dived on it.

Then I drew a bass off a sunken log. Another bad hook set made it 0-for-4. The wait on the hook-set is the hardest part of frog fishing for me, that pause for a second after the blow-up before setting the hook. Frisell used to roll his eyes at my frantic hook-sets.

Another bass blew up off a small piece of floating mat and completely missed. 0-for-5. At that point, I was ready to call Frisell and ask what I was doing wrong.

Then I worked into heavier aquatic cover and a big bass hooked itself on the blow-up as I burped the frog across a point. (Hello, Jose Abreu.)

The only question was reeling in the bass matted with weeds.


A selfie was not enough. I decided the bass (19 inches) was worthy of a real photo and asked a couple, who were bluegill fishing nearby to take a photo (the top one) before release.

It was time.

It’s that time of year.

Frogs. Big bass. Pond scum and floating mats.

STRAY CAST: Jay Cutler is the Bears what yellow perch are to Lake Michigan. Aaron Rodgers is the Packers what smallmouth bass are to Green Bay.

* * * *


WATERFOWL BOOT CAMP: Presented by Fox River Valley Hunting Retriever Club at Cabela’s in Hoffman Estates from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday. Click here.


Conservation World draws crowds at the Illinois State Fair.

Credit: Dale Bowman

CONSERVATION WORLD:The wild spot at the Illinois State Fair is in the northeast corner of the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield. It is free with fair admission and open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday through Aug. 23. Click here for general information. Click here for the new fly fishing classes, which are held three times daily.

The Latest
Join us for a live digital discussion on Wednesday, June 15. Register now to learn about how residents are speaking out against living with pollution near industrial corridors on Chicago’s Southwest Side.
The Rev. Immanuel Karunakaran was one of four McCormick Theological Seminary graduates who worked on the mural there. He says he aimed to show the complexity of ‘God within our suffering.’
Millions of the trackers have been sold since they were introduced last year. And reports to the Chicago Police Department of unwanted surveillance or stalking using them soon began.
Demarlin Brewer, 47, is also charged in a River North theft and burglary, Chicago police said.
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services said “no signs of abuse, neglect or danger were noted by our investigator.”