“I can’t believe that just happened,” I said, shooting a bewildered look at my fiancé that I’d be surprised if he saw by the faint LED-flashlight glow.
We looked wide-eyed and doubtful at the plump bullfrog he held in front of us.
“That was too easy,” we said together, and I laughed to think of the teasing I’d brought on myself just days ago from my family when I announced that I was going to try frogging.
After that first catch, I couldn’t figure out why everyone thought the idea was so hilarious. If the process was really as simple as sneaking around a pond with adequate aim and a quick gig, why did they seem to think I’d end up mud-caked and frog-fooled?
Two hours later, I embraced the solid realization that frogging is a much more slippery sport than I initially thought.
Working at MDC means there’s always someone around to help out with a hunting or fishing adventure, so when I decided to try frogging I asked a coworker if I could borrow a gig. “Absolutely,” he said, slyly.
The next morning he greeted me with a 10-foot, five-prong fishing gig. Besides being almost twice my height, the gig couldn’t even stand upright in my office—let alone fit in my car. After a good laugh, I politely declined his offer and borrowed a 5 1/2-foot gig from the Jefferson City MDC office’s Fisheries Division. The second gig was still a bit of overkill with five prongs, but it was available and it would work.
With as hot as this summer has been, I haven’t made my usual semi-annual fishing trip. Since I hadn’t yet purchased a fishing permit, I opted for the less expensive daily fishing permit to cover me for the night. Bullfrogs and green frogs can be taken with either a fishing permit or a hunting permit using each permit’s respective methods.
I convinced my fiancé that we should take his younger brother out to his family’s farm pond and face the challenge as three first-time froggers together. With borrowed gig, hand net and reused paint bucket in hand, we tiptoed to the bank where that first bullfrog awaited our arrival.
Our subsequent catches weren’t nearly as easy, and the ones that got away definitely were not. We waded along the banks, traipsed through pond vegetation, climbed through bushes—and even fell in a 3-foot pond hole—chasing camouflaged amphibians that jumped faster than our hands could move and navigated the pond with much more skill.
Novices though we were, we brought in seven frogs at the end of the night, two of which were mine—not quite a possession limit, but not bad for beginners. Then we moved on to our second adventure: cleaning.
Seven frogs means 14 legs.
Using instructions I’d looked up online, we cut off each pair of legs just above the hip then peeled back the skin and cut it off at the feet. I’ll omit the other gory details, but I did discover that frogs’ connective tissue really does its job when it comes to holding skin and body together. I recommend cutting back the skin a bit with a sharp knife before trying to peel it back.
Once cleaned, we rinsed the meat and put it in a freezer bag full of water. This Missouri Conservationist article recommends adding a tablespoon of salt per gallon bag of frog legs.
We’re not done with our frogging adventure. Fourteen legs isn’t a lot of meat, but frying it will certainly be a celebration for us. I may have been a first-time frogger, but I’m not a first-time fryer, and I have high hopes for these legs.