You can count froggin’ aficionado and Bass Pro Tour angler Fred Roumbanis among the most enthusiastic fans of the late-summer/early-fall frog bite.
“I’m getting excited for this time of the year,” Roumbanis admits. “Before the pads die off and the summer temps start to cool, it’s prime time and can be an all-day deal. The frog bite is about to kick off, big time. If you get four cool nights and start to see bait up in the shallows and in the back of coves, it’s time to be frogging.”
Water temperature is a key component to successful frog fishing in September and October.
“Anglers always think about water temperature in the spring, but it’s just as critical for the late summer and early fall,” Roumbanis says. “If the water temperature drops, pick up a frog and fish it all day.”
Water level and fluctuation can impact frog fishing productivity as well.
“It’s tough to hook them when water levels drop fast, and you’ll miss a lot more bass on a frog bite in super shallow water,” Roumbanis says. “There are not as many follow-up bites. “I had a lot of misses fishing the real shallow stuff at the La Crosse Super Tournament in 2020. Ideally, you want a little more water under the cover for the best hookups, but those bass can be so shallow. Just don’t expect as many hookups.”
Roumbanis’ first go-to in the late summer is the classic “cheese” (duck weed).
“I always like fishing the thick cheese or duck weed first, that yellow green mossy stuff,” Roumbanis says. “It’s super loose, and when bass hit it, they rarely miss it. The cheese is usually over submerged vegetation like milfoil.
“Find the alleys – if it’s darker colored, it usually has thicker weeds under it. The lighter color usually has the alleys under it and is best for big fish. Lots of bream and baitfish live there. I’ve caught so many 8-pounders in the thick cheese over the years.”
Roumbanis also searches for a variety of other shallow cover if he can’t find fish in duck weed.
“Water willow is a shoreline grass, kind of bushy, that usually sits on the edge of a drop – it’s an excellent cover to fish a frog,” Roumbanis advises. “It’s easy to predict where to fish (water willow). If the water levels are up, fish back into it, and if the water level is down, fish the edges. Other good options for frog fishing are boat docks, laydowns, and undercut banks.
Best times of day to fish a frog can vary from one location to another, but Roumbanis feels it’s usually solid in the mornings, with a mid-morning to early afternoon lull and a resurgence the rest of the day.
Lake many MLF pros, Roumbanis keeps his color selection simple to be able to fish efficiently.
“If I want a lot of bites, I throw a black frog, and add a little red for confidence,” he says. “A bream color can be great for really big fish. White looks larger and mimics a shad or whatever larger baitfish there are. If you see a lot of frogs, use a frog color, and if there are a lot of crawfish – sometimes those crawfish love under the weed mats – use a craw color.”
Roumbanis opts for a 7-foot 3-inch rod Dobyns Rods Champion 736 FR (“It has great backbone and loads up well and allows me to walk the frog with ease,” he says) and sticks with green moss or black 50- to 65-pound braid.
But he gets technical with his choice of reels.
“I use the Sixgill Hamarr, but not just one basic model: I use the 6.5:1 for slower retrieves when I need to essentially walk the bait in place,” Roumbanis said. “I’ll use the 7.0:1 for most situations, and the 8.0:1 when I need to pick up line quickly. Having the different retrieve speeds makes a difference over time.”
Roumbanis will alter his retrieve, and so should you.
“You can entice the bass to bite a frog, but you can’t just cast and reel and be effective,” he says. “You need to work it like a puppet. It’s a little bass-catching ninja walking back and forth.”
Roumbanis reminds every frog fishing fanatic to know when to say when.
“Knowing when to put it down is almost as important as knowing when to fish the frog,” he admits. “I really, really love fishing my Stanford Baits Boom Boom Frog, and sometimes it’s really hard to stop fishing it, to change up. It can be addictive.”