When To Use Frog Baits For Bass? (3 Things You Should Know)

PUBLISHED 07 FEBRUARY 2021

by Robert Ceran

Few bass fishing tactics are as exciting as using topwater frogs. Every time you get an explosive blow up from a bass grabbing your lure, your heart pounds in your chest, as you frantically reel in the slack and whip up your rod to set the hook.

But if you’re new to fishing, you may be wondering, when should you fish a frog for bass?

Here’s the quick answer:

You can use frog baits whenever the water temperature is above 60-65 degrees (from late spring to early fall in most locations). During this time, you can fish frogs effectively throughout the whole day, especially near heavy cover, like lilly pads and other vegetation. In summer, frog fishing is also very effective at night. 

Now let’s dive into the details, and look at the nuances of this topic.

Best time of year for frog fishing

Many anglers assume that since real frogs are only active during the summer, this means you can only use frog baits in the summer as well.

But this isn’t quite true – while topwater frogs are primarily designed to imitate frogs, they can also trigger bass strikes when there are no frogs around. The reason for this is that they also resemble other types of prey that bass like to eat, including rodents and wounded fish (have you ever noticed how wounded baitfish tend to move erratically near the surface of the water?).

In other words, you can use them to catch bass anytime when they are found in shallow water less than 3-4 feet deep, which usually happens when the water temperature climbs above 60 to 65 degrees. In many lakes, you can start frog fishing in spring (including the pre-spawn and spawn phase), and continue all the way to the first frost in fall.

See also: best rod for frog fishing

But having said that, by far the most popular time for this fishing method is during the summer, when water vegetation reaches its peak growth, which really plays to the strengths of this fishing tactic. And in addition to being highly effective, frog fishing is also most fun under these conditions. 

Summer frog fishing for bass

At the peak of the summer, most lakes have luxuriant growths of vegetation in and around them. These plants include water lily pads, emergent grass beds, hydrilla, cotton tails, riprap, and many more. All of this plant growth creates perfect cover for bass to ambush their prey in shallow water. In addition, trees, bushes and laydowns extend their branches and trunks into the water, creating even more ideal ambush points for shallow bass.

Because of this, the best strategy for frog fishing in summer is to target these dense zones of vegetation with a hollow bodied frog, which is perfect for this purpose, since it is practically weedless, and can be fished across the top of vegetation without getting snagged. 

When temperatures continue to rise in the dog days of summer, bass tend to retreat to deeper water during the day, because temperatures are lower in these deeper zones. But some bass remain in shallow water even during these conditions, and can be found underneath lily pads or other cover (such as docks and overhanging trees) providing shade. Because of this, you can catch them on topwater frogs even during midday on a hot summer’s day.

One of the most effective ways to catch bass in summer, is to cast your frog into a dense lily pad, and slowly retrieve it across the top of the leaves. There’s a high chance that any fish hiding from the sun underneath the leaves will grab your lure from underneath (even if it can’t see the lure properly). Just make sure you create enough vibrations by twitching your rod tip, which attracts fish sensing the vibrations with their lateral line organ.

Frog fishing for bass at in the fall

The fall is one of the best times for frog fishing. This is because bass can be found in shallow water chasing schools of shad and minnows at this time, and these are perfect conditions for catching them on topwater baits. 

Once again, the best place to fish at this time is in or around dense vegetation. The great thing is that grass beds have been growing all summer long, and new emerge above the surface of the water in many locations, and this is one of the best places to fish a frog bait during this season. 

Best time of day to frog fish

In general, you can catch bass on frogs all day long, even on days with bright sunshine. However, during these bright conditions, the key is to target locations with shade, where the fish retreat to when the sunlight is very bright.

One way to do this is to fish your lure on dense pads of water lilies, since their leaves attract bass with their shade. Another great option is to skip your frog underneath docks and overhanging branches of trees and bushes, which also provide shade for fish during the day.

Alternatively, if you want to fish in more open water, it’s best to do this in the morning and the late afternoon, when bass come out from the cover, and feed more actively. 

Frog fishing at night

As mentioned above, at the peak of summer bass tend to retreat to deeper water during daytime to escape the heat. But during the night, when the temperature drops, they come back into the shallow water zones, and feed most actively at this time. 

This provides a great opportunity to catch summer bass with topwater frogs at night, since these lures are designed to create a lot of commotion at the surface of the water, which is ideal for attracting bass during low visibility conditions. 

When selecting lures for night fishing, it’s best to choose the ones that are the most “noisy,” including popping style frogs and rattling frogs. The color doesn’t matter so much during the night, although black seems to perform best in many cases.

See also: What is the best color frog for bass fishing?