If you are a night owl, like I am, frog-gigging is tailor-made for you. I love the peaceful sounds of a lake at night, and the soft muggy humid air. You usually don’t see many other people out at night, so you pretty much have the water to yourself. And I love fried frog legs.
Fishing Kayaks have turned frog gigging into a whole new proposition. Since I started gigging from my yak a few years ago, my harvest numbers have quadrupled.
The reason is simple. Kayaks are very quiet and stealthy.
You can paddle almost right up to ole Mr. Rana catesbeiana and have a good chance of sticking him before he bolts.
Know Thy Prey – American bullfrog
The American Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) is the largest frog in North America, and unquestionably the most aggressive. Males are mostly what you will get because females don’t croak and are hard to find.
And they will viciously defend their territory as long as they can.
They are a favorite food of alligators, large bass, raccoons, bears, otters, bobcats, and cottonmouth snakes, which means you need to exercise a little caution because you are not the only thing hunting them. Bullfrogs are partially resistant to the venom of cottonmouths, but you probably are not.
Bullfrogs range along the East Coast from Southern Canada to Florida, and west to Oklahoma. It has extended to some other states due to intentional and accidental releases, and many states classify them as invasive species.
Bullfrogs breed in late spring/early summer in the south, from April to June. Up north, they may not begin breeding until May and continue into July.
Since I don’t like to disturb anything while it is trying to breed (fish or otherwise), I gig from late June to late September.
When the night temperatures drop into the upper 70s, bullfrogs will begin to look for suitable places to hibernate for the winter, and won’t come out again until next spring.
Equipment For Kayak Frog Gigging
Any kayak will work for frog gigging. I am not fond of SOTs (Sit On Top kayak), but in this case, they offer some advantages. You sit a little higher and can see the frogs better.
They are easier to get in and out of, and sometimes you will have to dismount in shallow water for various reasons. SOTs are ideal for frog gigging. I would be sure it has two paddle holders, one for my paddle, and one for the gig.
You need a 6’ gig. The plain old barbed 3-pronged type is fine. You don’t need anything fancy. Longer than 6’ is OK. but can be a little unwieldy. Anything shorter, and a lot of frogs will be able to bolt on you.
The most important piece of equipment may be a headlamp. You are going to need to be able to see very well. All of those glowing eyes are not going to be bullfrogs, and you need to see what you are about to try and stick.
Snakes, snapping turtles, ‘gators, and bears take it very personally when you try to stab them. Don’t skimp on a headlamp. Get one that runs on batteries and carries extra sets. You need a minimum of 150 lumens, but 250 is much better. Get the brightest light you can find. Mine is 1000 lumens at full power.
Your light needs to be bright enough to blind and freeze the frog long enough for you to gig it.
You need somewhere to keep your frogs until you get them home. A medium-sized cooler can be bungee to the back cargo space for easy access. Place ice packs or frozen water bottles in it to keep it cool.
Tactics For Right Frog Gigging
Any warm, muggy, humid night is good for bullfrogs. The best time to hunt for them is at sundown until around midnight. You can tell when it is time to start because you will hear them croaking their loud BRRRUUUUMMMPPPHHH! When they start, you can start.
Look for them along the shore, especially where there is overhanging vegetation and cover.
When you zero in on the sound of a particular frog, use your headlamp to pinpoint his location.
You will see lots of green glowing eyes. Isolate one set and quietly paddle, slowly, towards them. At around 20 feet, ship your paddle and quietly pick up your gig while the yak glides into range.
Try to make sure it is really a bullfrog before thrusting. At a range of around 6 feet, smartly thrust your gig into the frog and immediately boat it. Shot placement is not important as long as you hit. Anywhere you can stick it will work. Toss the frog into the cooler and close the lid securely (sometimes they will try to get out if it’s not a clean kill…).
I can’t speak for all States, but here in Ga., there is no season or limit on bullfrogs. The only requirement may be that you need a fishing license. If you are on WMA (Wildlife Management Area) land, you will need a WMA Stamp.
Clean the frogs as soon as you can when you get home. They freeze nicely. In case there are squeamish people reading this, I won’t explain how to clean a frog here. There are numerous YouTube videos with step-by-step instructions on how to properly prepare frog legs for cooking.
If you’ve never had fried frog legs, you’re missing out. They really do taste a lot like chicken, only better. Here is my favorite recipe:
Extra: Georgia-Fried Frog Legs Recipe
- Enough oil for the deep-fryer
- A couple of lbs cleaned frog legs
- 2 cups flour
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 tsp water
- 1 tbsp of your favorite Seasoning Salt, Old Bay, Adobo, etc…
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp pepper
- 1 few dashes of your favorite hot sauce. I prefer Carolina Reaper Sauce, but any good bottle sauce works, like McKillhenny’s, Bullseye, Trappy’s, Tropical
- Pepper Company, etc…
- Fill the deep fryer with oil up to the fill line and turn it on to at least 320⁰F.
- While the oil is heating, crack the eggs in a mixing bowl, add the water and hot sauce, and beat them until they are a smooth egg-wash.
- In another mixing bowl, add all the dry ingredients and mix well.
- Check the oil by dropping a small amount of flour in it. If it sizzles, the oil is hot enough.
- Roll a frog leg around in the egg wash until it is coated completely, then dredge it in the flour mixture until well coated. You can double-coat them if desired. Drop the leg into the oil using a basket, or let them float free. Repeat for the other legs.
- When the legs float and are a nice golden-brown they are done.
- Serve with fried potatoes, coleslaw, and cornbread. Mmmmm.