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Fall Frog Fishing Patterns for Lake Guntersville
Mike Carter’s two fall FRAWG patterns produce explosive strikes on Lake Guntersville from September through November.
By Eileen Davis
“What I like most about fishing a weedless frog,” said Mike Carter, winner of a Snag Proof tournament on Lake Guntersville, “are the explosions. “Everyone likes to see a bass explode on a frog as it moves across a thick mat of grass.”
Of the two fall frog fishing patterns for Lake Guntersville, the first involves expansive mats of vegetation, but not every mat produces the rod-ripping, heart-stopping depth charges that everyone wants to experience.
The veteran guide believes four factors are needed to create a productive grass mat. The first is to look for mats in water 1 to 4 feet deep.
“To narrow your search,” Carter said, “look for a mixture of hydrilla and milfoil. The latter will deteriorate quickly and the mix will create a cheesy muck on top. The mat must have the cheesy muck as it means the grass has deteriorated under the mat to form hollowed out areas, which gives fish room to maneuver.”
Carter says the last requirement is for the mat to have the distinctive sound of Rice Krispies. He continued, “The familiar sound is caused by bream feeding on insects.
“If a mat meets this combination of requirements, you are in an area that could produce fish. Depending on the grass beds, we catch 10 to 30 bass, and we catch a lot of quality fish.”
According to Carter, the best area of the lake to search for these grass mats is from mid-lake to the upper end.
Sunshine is another critical factor in catching largemouth on frogs in grass beds.
“The best days for fishing are bright sunny days,” Carter said. “The bite usually starts around 9 or 10 in the morning. On cloudy days, the fish scatter, and I will not fish a frog. But if it’s sunny, it’s game on!
Carter fishes grass mats with either a brown or black Snag Proof frog using a 7-foot 6-inch extra-heavy action Hammer rod with a Lew’s 6.3:1 ratio reel spooled with Vicious 65-pound-test braid. The only modification he makes to the lure is to add a glass rattle.
“The best technique for retrieving the frog is slackline twitching,” Carter said. “The mistake I see anglers make is to twitch the frog on a tight line, so they are actually dragging the lure. A slackline twitch imparts an aggressive action to the frog. You must pop it. It’s almost like fishing a Pop-R.
“Start by working the frog fast. When you find an area where the bass are striking continue to use the hard twitch, but slow your retrieve.
When a bass explodes on your frog, Carter recommends reeling the slack from your line and setting the hook immediately. He says that one second pause is all that is needed for solid hook sets. Wait any longer and you risk losing the fish in the heavy vegetation.
“When fishing frogs,” he said, “you are not going to catch every bass that hits, but it’s exciting even if you don’t catch the fish.”
Carter calls the second fall pattern trash fishing. This pattern involves looking for the same type of mats covered in cheese muck, but on an extremely smaller scale.
“Trash fishing consists of fishing in the backs of small pockets that may only be in a foot of water and 10 yards wide,” he said. “We cover 20 to 30 a day, and it is very productive because they are such small areas. It takes anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes to fish one of these areas, but they can produce quality fish.
“The advantage of the trash fishing pattern is that it is more consistent than fishing mats. With the mats, it’s feast or famine. Sometimes, you can sit on one spot and catch fish all day long. Other times, you can get bored real quick waiting for bass to feed.”
To find these areas, Carter recommends using Google Earth as it shows the grass. He says pockets off the main lake produce better than the pockets in the backs of creeks.
Depending on weather conditions, Carter’s two fall frog patterns on Lake Guntersville begin in September and can continue through November.
“The biggest fish I caught on a frog,” Carter said, “was on a Saturday before Thanksgiving and it weighed 9 pounds 2 ounces. It’s possible for the pattern to continue into December if we do not get floods. High water destroys mats.”