Pulling hollow-body frogs across matted vegetation is no doubt a blast, but sometimes zipping a frog back into other forms of cover can draw equally violent responses from big bass. In fact, Elite Series pro Ish Monroe says there's no wrong place to fish a frog — unless you're fishing mid-lake open water. Even then, if bass come up schooling, he won't hesitate to throw the frog. Elsewhere, he'll skip it under docks, run it along riprap banks and squeeze it under overhanging limbs.
"I catch fish 12 months out of the year on a frog," Monroe said. "You're not going to be able to catch them 12 months out of the year in the same location, but somewhere you can catch them on a frog."
As Monroe notes, adjusting one's perspective can unlock a realm of frog potential, and the common denominator actually is not the cover, it's the food. Essentially, Monroe is keen to throw a frog whenever he locates baitfish.
"March through October, bass will follow bait schools, which position near food sources like bugs and algae," he said. "Overhanging limbs, docks, riprap walls — they all have shade and algae and bugs for baitfish to eat.
"All the same scenarios are applicable eight months out of the year, and the only time it changes is during the November through February period. During the fall-winter months, the fish are relating to the baitfish; but the baitfish aren't relating to the algae, they're moving into areas for warmer water, like the backs of creeks."
Monroe fishes his signature Snag Proof Phat Frog on a 7-foot, 4-inch Ish model Daiwa XBD Frog Rod. This model has just enough tip for skipping and walking the dog, but it provides a good balance between action and fish-pulling power. Monroe likes a fast reel for frogging — a 6:1 Daiwa Zillion loaded with 70-pound Daiwa Samauri braid.
"The thing about frog fishing is that it's one rod, one reel, one presentation 80 percent of the time. It's a lot easier than people make it," Monroe said.
Monroe sticks with three main colors: Papa Midnight (black for silhouetting any forage), The Man (white for imitating shad) and Sexy Ish — a bluegill pattern. Although chugging is the way to go when fishing mats, Monroe employs an enticing side-to-side saunter for all other presentations. This, he said, resembles the frantic fleeing of anything that doesn't want to meet the business end of a bass.
"The primary reason I designed the Phat frog was to walk the dog," Monroe said. "There's something about that action that triggers big fish into biting. Everyone thinks that a frog only imitates a frog — but it also imitates a bluegill, it can imitate shad, a mouse, even a gopher. It imitates anything that's in the water (or may end up in the water) that a bass is going to eat."
In summary, Monroe said that finding productive frog scenarios is simply a matter of finding comfortable dining accommodations.
"The thing about bass fishing is that there's always going to be bait where there's bass, but there's not always going to be bass where there's bait. But if you give them the right combination of food and shelter, you'll find the bass."