Arey talks frogs, family and whitetails at La Crosse Elite

Team Toyota’s Matt Arey is the kind of guy you’d want for a college roommate. Goal focused, spiritually grounded, a great sense of humor and willing to call time-out to share a plate of cheese curds along with Wisconsin’s most famous farmhouse ale, Spotted Cow.

Those traits have him sitting solidly in the top 20 of the Progressive Bassmaster Angler of the Year points race on the eve of this season’s final event. So Arey paused after two full days of practice to talk topwater frogs, family and whitetail deer at one of Wisconsin’s many neighborhood gathering places – the Thirsty Turtle.

Q: Let’s start by looking back at last week’s event at massive Lake Oahe. What will you remember most about that event?

Arey: If fans haven’t seen the “agony of defeat” video I posted on Instagram @MattAreyFishing, it’s worth a look. I get a 5-pound smallie inside the boat, grab him to walk to the front deck, he jerks and jumps back in the lake. I’ll never forget that fish.

Q: You’ve logged two long days of practice here on the Upper Mississippi River at La Crosse. What can you tell Bassmaster fans to expect this weekend?

Arey: They’ll be a lot of fish catches, but a 3-pounder here is a treasure, and 4-pounders are fairly rare. So there’ll be plenty of action, but a 15-pound limit here is really strong.

Q: The Upper Mississippi River at La Crosse is a topwater frog anglers dream. What should fans look for when buying a topwater frog?

Arey: No doubt frogs will be one of the top three most used lures this week, along with swimjigs and ChatterBaits.

When picking out a quality frog, make sure it has great hooks, a really soft body and don’t get caught up buying 10 different colors. All you need is a couple of light-bellied frogs and a couple dark-bellied frogs. I like the Lunkerhunt compact frog because it comes out of the package with the hooks bent upward a bit, and the legs already trimmed.

Q: You’ve been away from your wonderful wife, Emily, and your two young daughters for 12 days. How’s everybody holding up back home in Shelby, N.C.?

Arey: Everybody is doing great, but as always, my sweet wife is balancing the start of a new school year with a golden retriever puppy, plus feeding horses and cleaning their stalls.

Q: As this Elite Series comes to an official end Monday afternoon, I know you’ll soon be immersed in whitetail hunting. Do you have your eye on a particular buck?

Arey: Oh yeah, for sure. I’ve got my eye on two great bucks. One is a Pope & Young caliber 8-pointer we call “B 2” – and the other is a buck we call “City Slicker” – he has matching flyers growing off both his G2 antlers.