from the front to block it from deep water refuge. If it is startled before you grab it, the frog will jump toward you, giving you a second chance. Be prepared to have lots of fun.
Although bullfrogs are primarily nocturnal, you can often find them poking their eyes out of moss, lily pads and cattails around dusk and dawn. A long cane pole or telescoping fiberglass rod works great. Artificial flies, grasshoppers, crickets or even a small piece of bright red yarn tied on a treble hook will tempt a frog.
I have found that the bigger and gaudier the fly, the better it works for frogs. Dangle it in front of the frog, and it can't resist taking a bite. The lightning speed at which they strike often surprises the hunter. Once the frog has taken the bait, it's just like fishing, only the frog is not in the water.
Topwater lures work well with spin-casting or spinning rods. When a frog is beyond the range of a cane pole or telescoping rod, simply cast the lure beyond the frog and then reel to the frog and gently twitch the lure on the surface of the water to tease the frog into lunging. Bullfrogs have been known to eat other frogs, mice and even small birds, so try to mimic these critters when top-water fishing for frogs.
Frogs for the table
Frogs are a breeze to clean. Rinse the frog, then grasp it behind the front legs with its head in your palm and place it belly down on a cutting board. Stretch the hind legs out and cut with a cleaver or heavy knife above the hip. Try to keep the legs attached as a pair to ease skinning and cooking. Work your finger under the skin between the frog's legs. Then, pull the skin down the legs to the ankles, like peeling off a pair of tube socks. Cut off the feet and skin with a sharp knife and toss this tasty treat to the friendly barn cat keeping you company. Place the legs in a freezer bag with a tablespoon of salt per gallon bag of frog legs, fill the bag with water and refrigerate or freeze. This will avoid freezer burning the legs. The hip bones can be sharp, so double bag.
A bright flashlight with an adjustable beam and a headlamp like those used by cave explorers are essential to froggin'. The adjustable flashlight beam allows you to focus on a frog, and the headlamp keeps your hands free to remove frogs from the spear. Be sure to bring extra batteries.
You'll need a bag with a drawstring to keep the frogs from escaping. A mesh laundry bag or an old pillow case with a string through the cuff will suffice. Hip wading boots or an old pair of sneakers and jeans will protect your feet and legs. Old clothes that you might be considering cutting up into shop rags make excellent froggin' attire.
Wetlands are home to legions of mosquitoes, flies, moths and other bothersome insects that are attracted to your body and lights, so bring plenty of insect repellent.
A gig or frog spear is a light metal spearhead with three or four prongs attached to a long pole. Spearheads are available at most fishing tackle stores or through catalogs and are usually sold without a pole. You can fashion a pole out of cane, fiberglass, wood or any other long, lightweight, rigid material.
Use extreme caution, especially when hunting with children. Each point of the spearhead is very sharp and has a barb cut into the shaft of the prong to prevent the frogs from flopping off. To prevent accidents, cut a 3- inch section of radiator hose to slip over the spearhead when not in use.
Finley's Frog Fry
There are many ways to fry a frog. Here's my favorite recipe:
1 cup flour
1 cup crushed saltine crackers
1/4 cup corn starch
1 tbs black pepper
1 tbs season salt
1 tbs lemon pepper salt
1 cup milk
2 quarts peanut oil
Thaw a possession limit of frog legs (16 pair) drain and pat dry with paper towels. Heat oil to 375 degrees. Combine dry ingredients into a large plastic bowl with lid. Dip legs into milk and egg mixture then drop into bowl with dry ingredients. Cover bowl and shake your legs! Drop in hot oil and cook until golden brown.
The experience and excitement of hunting frogs is topped only by the satisfaction of eating your harvest, and nothing draws kinfolk out of the woodwork like frogs in hot fat. All that usually remains after a frog fry is a little pile of bones picked clean as cotton swabs. This summer, hunt some frogs with your friends and family, make some lasting memories and enjoy a taste of Missouri's bountiful resources.