It’s The Time For Hunting Bullfrogs – All Across Arkansas
We are referring to the warm weather pursuit of bullfrogs, and it occurs all across the state.
Yes, there are rules, but they are few and generous. There is a season for taking bullfrogs – April 15 through Dec. 31. – the daily limit is 18, and a “day” of frog hunting is noon to noon. You are required to have an Arkansas fishing license, not a hunting license in spite of it often being called frog hunting.
The method of getting a bullfrog is open to debate. You can’t shoot them with a gun, but you can use a bow and arrow. By far the most common method is to use a gig, which is a needle-sharp pronged metal tool fastened to the end of a long pole, usually cane or bamboo. You can use a long-handled net or a fishing rig with a hook. Old timers say a strip of red flannel on the hook is a good bait.
Some folks will puff out chests and tell you that “real” frog hunting is grabbing them with bare hands. There are two drawbacks to hand grabbing of bullfrogs – it’s hard to get close enough to them, and bullfrogs tend to inhabit the same areas as cottonmouth snakes.
Other needs are a shallow-draft boat, such as an aluminum flatbottom, and a strong light since nearly all frog hunting is done after dark.
A common practice is to use a 12-volt marine battery in the boat with alligator clips connecting it to a quartz beam or similar spotlight. Two hunters work together – one using the light and the other the gig.
Frogs tend to sit on a bank very close to the water. A quiet approach is needed with the light shining squarely on the frog. Get close enough (it’s easy to underestimate the distance in the dark) then use a quick thrust with the gig.
Experienced frog hunters know that an open stretch of bank is much preferred to one choked with brush, fallen logs and other obstacles. They shy away from frogs sitting on logs because a sharp gig stuck deep into wood is a chore to extract.
Another necessity is a container of some kind to hold the frogs brought to the boat. Burlap bags or other kinds of cloth bags, like feed bags, have long been used. A cooler with a hinged lid can work, but some frogs may not be dead when put into the cooler – and frogs have amazing jumping ability.
Typically, a frog outing starts with gathering of gear late in the day then heading out so the action can begin when it’s dark. Most frog hunters buy the metal gigs at a sporting goods outlet and cut cane for the poles. Sturdy cane is needed, not the limber type you may choose for pole fishing. Serious frog hunters take along a spare pole or two and maybe an extra gig, safely secured, in case something breaks out on the water.
Best frog territories tend to be where water is quiet. Slow-moving creeks are good as are oxbows of cut-off lakes in lowlands. All along the Arkansas River is good for frogs, but use caution. Rocks on the shore can be hard on gigs just as logs are.
The end product of a successful frog outing is on the dinner table. Fried frog legs are regarded by legions of Arkansans as some of the finest eating you can find. Around the dinner table or even a campfire, the flavor of the fried frog legs is enhanced by recollections of the recent hunt that produced them.