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Frog Gigging - How To Frog Gig From An Old Pro!

Frog gigging is a sport that requires a degree of devotion that most sportsmen just don’t seem to have any longer.  I think a lot of it is that the taste buds of the more modern fisherman, and mostly their reluctance to eat out of the ordinary foods, has dwindled over the years.  It is amazing how many of my friends won’t even try frog legs when in fact, they are my very favorite food on this planet along with wild ducks, crawfish, and abalone.  Matter of fact, they are a favorite of my whole family, and growing up they were something that we each would hide from each other so that we could have them all, just like the one chicken gizzard on the barbeque or the fried perch roe that never made it from the stove!  So my friends, here is how to frog gig and have some fun while gigging frogs!
This frog gigging article is about how to frog gig and what you need for frog gigging along with how to find frogs for frog gigging.

The devotion part I mentioned above in the opening is because frog gigging is a sport that is done at night and into the early morning hours.  Many an “all-nighter” has been pulled by my froggin family in our quest for these tasty amphibians.  And the darkest nights are best, as the moon illuminates you and the gig as you sneak up on them, so walking through the weeds and stinging nettles along the ditch banks becomes quite challenging.  These nights can be made more pleasant if you opt to gig out of a boat in a slough or canal although this can be dangerous because I have found that the professional frog gigger seems to require whisky breaks quite regularly and for some reason the boat seems to get smaller an tippier. I have had this very thing happen when we were catfishingor sturgeon fishing at night!

First thing to know is that the frogs hibernate in the winter so there is no use chasing them at that time of year.  Second thing of importance is that they come out in the spring to breed and stock up their bellies for the next winter.  When they are courting each other, they croak with full gusto.  Matter of fact, during this time of year, the best way to find a place to gig frogs is to drive in an area near ditches, canals, sloughs, creeks, ponds, and such bodies of water that warm up earlier and provide weeds and aquatic plants for cover, and just shut off your car from time to time and listen.  You can hear the music of the frog mating songs from very far off, and you head to them.  Now, remember that these bullfrogs don’t breed year around and sometimes they just aren’t in the mood it seems, and they don’t make much noise.  You might hear just one lonely bullfrog but find the ditch he is in loaded with them before and after mating season.  Or, maybe never hear a thing.  In any case, if you are gigging canals and ditches by driving from one to the other, you should always check the ends of them where they flow under the road.  Frogs seem to like these areas.  Many times we will take off right after dark and drive to a few of these ditch ends and gig 2 or 3 at several of them - enough for a little quick snack and a little fun.  If there are frogs at the ends, there is very likely more of them to be taken in that ditch.  Frogs are a funny beast.  They have their likes and dislikes and idiosyncrasies.  Usually, on a long ditch they will be near one end or the other and 90% of them will be on the same side of the ditch.

Before we get to the techniques, we need to discuss the gear you need.  First, you need the frog gig.  These are a 4 or 5 pronged, fork-like, spear about the size of your open palm.  They can be bought a most decent sporting goods shops, but are often mislabeled as “fish-spears”, which irks my butt.  They have a round cavity on them so that you can insert the pole into it which is never supplied with the gig, nor do they sell such a thing separately.  This part of the device is made or acquired by the frog angler him or her self and often requires creativity in both obtaining it and attaching it to the gig.  And the length is very important because the areas you plan to catch frogs in and whether you will be in a boat or not dictates your specific needs.  In a boat, you need only a gig about ten feet long, but if you are gigging in a deep steep sided ditch, you may need 20 feet of pole and there are plenty of in-between needs you might run into.  Now, my nephew and I have at least 3 or 4 different gigs for all of our favorite places and we use them all.  Granted, that long assed one is hard to control and you miss half of the frogs with it, but these are frogs that without it you would not have had even a chance to get anyway.  And these ditches often hold the most frogs as they are so inaccessible.  Some people will use good strong bamboo for the longer poles and maybe a long window washing squeegee handle for the shorter ones.  I have even seen metal electrical conduit used.  It must fit in the round pocket on the gig which has holes to screw it to the pole, which you should do first.  Then, we like to take black electrical tape and wrap the livin piss out of the gig and pole where they meet for a foot or so for added strength.  Using that yellow shrink wrap plastic stuff that is made into a tube that slips over the pole and is then shrunk with a blow dryer or torch around the whole pole is a huge plus for strength.  The frogs aren’t so hard on them but falling and catching yourself with the pole is inevitable, and helping to guide the boat when the other person is running the trolling motor happens too, due to excitement and whisky when you all of a sudden see a frog.  This is known as “rudderin’” and I know this because my nephew screams for me to “quit rudderin’” over and over as the night progresses and I have had my butt chewed for an hour while he repairs the gig from me so doing!  And use a file on the points to keep them sharp.  When you gig a frog that is floating in the water, the gig will push him down instead of penetrate, which you don’t want.  Missing a frog can cost you your position at gigging and cause immense ridicule!  Much like missing a salmon hit when you are fishing them from the shore in the river that takes a week of fishing to get!  The ridicule usually will last about 40 hours until the next guy misses one!

Next, you must have a bright light.  Notice that I said “you”.  If you go out with one light, somebody is without and this situation causes extreme anxiety to that “nekkid” sole!  You will find yourself saying “let me see that light for a second” a hundred times, which will be denied by the light endowed angling partner you are with, trust me.  If you do get the light from him, you will inevitably abuse your privilege and soon will be denied any further enjoyment of his light.  Here, you will experience the feeling of “nekkedness”!

Make sure the light is bright, and will stay that way, and that it has a focused beam to spot the shine of the frogs’ eyes along with the white of their chins, and to blind them with so the person gigging can sneak the spear head to within inches of them, which you must do.  I like a big Mag-lite.  Carry extra batteries too just in case.

Next, you need what we call an “HTFB”--- a High tech frog bucket.  This would be one of those fish baskets with the spring loaded tops.  This replaces the gunny sack and holds those frogs in as they are impossible to kill.  They will have that huge spear right through their head and heart when you pull them from the water after you stick them and they will have one toe hung on the gig trying to push themselves off of the barbs that hold them on.  You yank them off the gig and put them in the HTFB and they are still looking for an opening the next morning when you are reaching in the basket to get one to clean!  They are ten times worse that when you spear fish when diving in the ocean.  The fish only fight at first, the frogs plot and plan a jailbreak like the guys on OZ all night!

Now, when you are walking the canal or in a boat in the backwaters of the delta, or where ever you are after frogs, you usually spot their eyes shining in the light like you see when you see a cat or a coon in the head lights from far off at night.  If you are close, you usually see the yellow-white color of their skin under their mouths, but sometimes if they are facing away from you and floating in the water, you see a “bump” in the water that, upon closer inspection, is a bull frog.  At that point, one person holds the light very still right on the frog.  The other person maneuvers the gig slowly to within 6 or less inches from the frog at a different angle than the light is hitting him from.  Then, with a snapping and firm thrust you “put the wood to him!”.  Especially if he is floating and you don’t have the bank to push against to fully sink the gig to the hilt.  Again, a dull spear head is a huge problem in open water.  So is losing your balance and following the gig right into the water!  I think this might happen more often the later it gets because the whisky bottle is half empty and loses its counter balance benefits or something!

If you are on a ditch, it is best to have one person on each side so you can spot the frogs, as the ones on your side are against the bank in the weeds and you can’t see them most of the time while your buddy can.  Here, we often just throw the gig back and forth over the ditch to who needs it next.  Another hint is to stop and listen when you can’t find the frog you hear.  Sooner or later he will croak and you can pinpoint him in the weeds.  They often will sit in the weeds and grass in the water and let you move it aside with the gig, even moving them a little, to allow you to find them.  It is odd but they do.

In closing, I want to address the scads of people out there that will inevitably tell their story of how they used to use a red cloth on a treble hook and dangle it in front of the frog, and the frog would bite it and they would get frogs that way.  I have done this a thousand times and it is fun and can be done in the day.  It doesn’t need to be a red cloth, anything that moves will work.  I like hula poppers, jitterbugs, bombers or any lure.  Those damn frogs will swim right after them for several feet to get them.  They will eat anything.  We have taken everything from several huge craw fish to baby muskrats out of their stomachs when we were cleaning them.  Anyway, this lure fishing for frogs is fun but tedious and good for the amateur who doesn’t eat a bunch of legs like we do, as the amount of frogs you catch is a fraction of what a good gigging night will yield.  Our one night record is 108 huge frogs.  In case you are bad at math, that would equate to 216 enormous frog legs!

Oh, and another hint I wanted to tell you has to do with cleaning.  When you clean them, most people just eat the rear legs.  My cousin and most oriental folks slice them around the neck and eat the front legs, loins, and the rear legs.  Regardless, when you go to clean them, they will be alive.  Grab them in one hand firmly by the legs and swing them and whack them hard on a rock, tree or something in the back of the head.  Their legs and body will stiffen like rigor mortis has set in within one second.  This makes the slicing of the skin hugely easier and seems to calm the crap out of the frog too!  Try it if you think I am B.S.ing you.

To cook them, make sure you use a deep fryer. It is so much better than just frying them as they just soak up grease and don’t get crispy on the outside.  Don’t use batter either- on frogs or any fish you fry.  Just wet them with water and bread them by rolling them in a mixture of seasoned bread crumbs, corn meal, and flour with some garlic powder (not garlic salt – throw it away if you own it), and salt and pepper to taste.  Also, it is best to soak the frog legs in salt water for 5 or 10 minutes before cooking and then rinse them to minimize them “jumping” in the pan.  The salt water tweaks the nerves and takes it out of them.  Like any game, it is best to eat them later in the day after you clean them to let the cleaning aromas dissipate from your nasal and oral palates’ memories to make your dining experience all it can be.

I didn’t write about gigging from a boat much as it is pretty self explanatory.  Just use a nice flat bottomed boat that you and your partner can lift in and out of ditches and such.  Oars are OK but a trolling motor is nice.  Don’t forget the ice chest!

There are many more great fishing  articles at Fishnfools.com as well as good information in our fishing forums.  Although our fishing blog "Capt. Garry's Articles" has become on of the top fishing blog sites on Google, our forums are just getting going good.  We were so successful with the blogs and found we were getting many thousands of hits a month so we decided to expand our site with the forums and many more great features, such as a place for you to even start your own fishing blog at no cost and with no hassle!  Our site is FREE TO JOIN and we invite you to share your fishing, frog gigging, shrimping, turtle catching, spear fishing, ice fishing or any other such experience, humorous story, and especially “how tos” with the rest of us.  For instance, I have never ice fished, kite fished, or made a night dive for lobster and would love to learn about these, as would thousands of others, and our forums are the place for you to teach us or amuse us.