Bullfrogs in late summer

Posted September 5, 2013 at 11:54 am

Froggers don’t find many bullfrogs during the daytime. They find them at night with a good light which shines their eyes at a distance.

Many things shine in the light at night along our waterways, spiders and insects, sparkling rocks and other amphibians and reptiles, but when you learn what a set of bullfrog eyes look like, you have little doubt when you see a pair of them. A big bullfrog’s eyes looks a little like the headlights on a Model T Ford.

As long as he is blinded, he will set there, stone still and you can actually reach down and grab him by hand as long as you are quick and decisive…and firm. A bullfrog can wriggle out of your hands if you don’t hold on to him. Once you have him, the best thing to do is put him in a wet cloth sack or wet burlap bag…and keep it wet and well closed.

The men who ply the rivers and creeks at night, catching bullfrogs by hand as they travel along either wading or boating, are the true outdoorsmen. They come from a different time and training.

Most of today’s froggers gig them and that’s a great deal easier perhaps. You don’t have to get into the weeds or get nearly as close. But if you gig frogs, you need to know which ones are too small just at a distant glance, because you can’t cull them. A gigged frog will die in time. The bigger the frog, the better the eating, and that’s what most froggers are after.

Frogging may not be the greatest of sport. There are perhaps things to do which are more fun. But frogs are as good to eat as anything

There are few people who do not relish fried frog legs. A big bullfrog in Ozark waters may reach a length of 15 to 18 inches with their legs stretched out. A 12-inch frog isn’t big enough for most and if he is less than a foot in length he isn’t really a keeper. But if he is big enough to keep, you will find quite a bit of meat on the back and the front legs as well as the back legs, so skin the whole frog and fry all of it. Cut off the head, cut off the feet, and then it will skin easily. Remove the entrails and cut the sheath of nerve fibers in the inside of the small of the back. If those are not cut, the frog will jump and twitch in the pan and it looks as if he is still alive.

Frog meat is very white and firm and some people say it is a little like the white meat of a chicken. This writer does not see the comparison. It is perhaps closer to the meat of a crab or crawfish. Frogs are very clean creatures, actually, though the water you find them in may look a little bit bad due to modern day pollution and algae growth. If it gets too polluted, you won’t find the frogs and that’s why so often you hear froggers say, “There aren’t any frogs anymore!” What they should be saying is, “There’s not much clean water anymore.”

Bullfrogs eat lots of insects and they do nail them with a long tongue. That’s why during the day you can dangle a hook in front of one with a little white or red yarn on it and they’ll nail it.

Years ago when ponds had lots of bullfrogs and clean water, farm kids caught frogs during the day in such a manner. But bullfrogs eat a lot of things, including smaller frogs, small snakes, worms, small fish and of course their very favorite food, the crawfish.

The bullfrog is highly favored by mink and coons and otters and bigger snakes as well, so they have to watch for lots of enemies. One of his greatest predators is the great blue heron which are at incredibly high numbers right now in the Ozark waters. That has a lot to do with why there are fewer bullfrogs right now in small streams and lakes where there once were so many. But froggers have a lot to do with that as well, as does the degradation of our rivers, increasingly tainted with herbicides, pesticides and fertilizer and becoming choked with algae. Some ponds which were clean enough to swim in 40 years ago are now covered with slime.

You’ll find bullfrogs in future summers where you find plenty of big bullfrog tadpoles this summer. And any place where there are bullfrogs, you’ll find very few froggers in September. But it isn’t a bad time to hunt frogs, because nights are cooler, and insects less of a problem.

The season for bullfrogs and green frogs opened at sundown on Sunday, June 30. It closes at midnight Thursday, Sept. 30. The daily combined limit is eight. The possession limit is 16. Only the daily limit may be possessed on waters and banks of waters being hunted.

So, hop to it.