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Illinois hunting and fishing

Frogs provide some summer fun

July 04, 2010 at 03:55 AM

Froggin’ facts

Bullfrog season started June 15 and runs through Aug. 31 in Illinois.

A fishing license is required to hunt frogs, which may be taken by hand, pole and line, pitchfork, landing net, bow and arrow, spear or gig.

The daily limit is eight frogs and the possession limit is 16.

While frog recipes are plentiful, Chef Todd advises marinating and grilling the legs or coating the legs in flour, salt and pepper and then frying until golden brown.


Moments after arriving, we heard croaking.

“Dude, that’s a big one. You can tell by the croak,” Chef Todd said, trying his best to whisper, but failing. “It’s like elk. The deeper the call, the bigger the frog.”

So began my first evening of frog gigging — a night of bent gig tines, swooping bats, abundant bugs, sticky mud and, most of all, fun. The outing was long overdue, as Chef (pictured below) has spent a decade sharing tales of his youthful frog hunts on the Mississippi River near Shokokon.

“Biggest frog I ever stuck, I saw him sitting in a ditch while I was riding home on the school bus. He was huge,” Chef said. “I got home, grabbed my fishing pole, rode my bike over to the ditch and caught him on a little piece of red cloth.

“That frog had to go a pound and a half. And he had a baby snapping turtle in his stomach that was still alive.”

Voracious eaters, bullfrogs will bite during the day on worms, pieces of cloth and sometimes even bare hooks. But the wildest time to go frogging is after dark, when bullfrogs and bugs are most active.

Some of the best action is in smaller waters, like the 3-acre Peoria County lake we visited last Thursday. Aside from an occasional hungry heron, turtle, snake or raccoon, the bullfrogs around this two-year-old lake had never been bothered.

The allure of virgin water kept Chef Todd energized despite sitting in a tippy, 12-foot john boat one month after having a hip replaced.

The taste of frog legs are that enticing to some folks, even if frog season doesn’t stir the same excitement it once did.

“I really think it’s a dying sport,” the Head Worm said. “The frogs aren’t there like they used to be and the people don’t go out after them like they used to.”

That’s too bad. Based on my evening, frogging is good, muddy fun.

The scene was impressive once we launched and darkness descended. Insects were everywhere. So were frogs. Spotlighting the bank revealed gleaming eyes every few feet.

Illinois hunting and fishing

What shocked me was how content those normally skittish frogs were as we glided toward them under power of trolling motor or paddle. Most sat still right until they felt the gig — a multi-pronged spear which in our case had five (briefly) sharp tines.

“They freeze when you blind them with the light,” Chef Todd said. “A few might jump. But if you keep the light on them, they usually just sit there.”

Pickings were so good even I gigged a limit in relatively short order. True to form, though, after proclaiming frogging “easy” I missed three straight.

As with anything, there’s a learning curve.

Frogs suspended in weeds over deeper water are much harder to gig — particularly with dull points.

And dull, bent points are likely if you jab hard at frogs sitting on rocks.

Also worth noting is just how many bugs come out at night over the water. Bug spray is an absolute necessity. So is a little luck.
Because with the bugs come bats, some swooping amazingly close.

“We’re lucky we didn’t get one in the ear,” Chef Todd said.

That we encountered no water snakes was also a bonus.

“One night we hit a couple eyes and it turned out to be a 5-foot water snake,” Chef Todd said. “It was curled all around the pole and damn near tipped our canoe.”

As for that biggest, loudest bullfrog, we visited him for almost last. Not 50 feet from our takeout point, he sat bellowing on the bank.

“Paddle easy dude, he’s a big one,” cautioned the Chef, who by then was content to sit in the back of the boat and croak orders.

After a quick stab, the frog was in the boat. By the time you read this, his fried legs will have served as a tasty reminder of an enjoyable night outdoors.

Illinois hunting and fishing

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Chef Todd
Glad to see that you had a good time gigging frogs,but DUDE what about your hip

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/04 at 06:23 AM

When I was a young kid, my dad used to have me lay out extended over the front end of the Jon Boat with a flash light in one hand. When we would spot a frog we would quietly float right up on him then I would just snatch him up by hand. Filled many a gunny sacks that way, over 40 years ago. Not very many of them every got away from us…. Ahhh to have those days back again LOL

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/07 at 01:32 PM

I like to use a boat paddle. Makes a little noise but no bleeding frogs in the boat.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/12 at 12:24 PM

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