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Night owls gig for bullfrogs

by Flip Putthoff | May 4, 2021 at 1:00 a.m.

Bullfrogs should be sounding off at night soon. That means frog-gigging fanatics will be back to chasing them on ponds and lakes throughout Arkansas.

Bullfrog season opened April 15 and will run through Dec. 31. Giggers willing to put forth some effort can be handsomely rewarded.

Only bullfrogs may be harvested and a valid fishing license is required in Arkansas. The limit is 18 frogs per day, measured from noon one day until noon the next. Bullfrogs may not be sold except by fish farmers with a valid commercial bullfrog permit.

Frog gigging can be done from the bank or by boat. Frogs may be harvested with bows or crossbows, hook-and-line, gig or simply snatching them by hand.

The most popular method is to use a 10-foot long pole tipped with a barbed gig point or spring-loaded jaw. Wading along the shallows of a pond, scanning the surface of the water will reveal the glowing eyes of the frogs.

Giggers will keep the light trained on their prey, dazzling them much like deer in the headlights and slowly ease within range of the frog to take a quick stab at it. The gigger needs to act quickly if his aim is true to pull the frog from the gig and place it in a cooler or mesh sack before it pulls loose. Mesh bags and wire fish baskets used by bream anglers come in very handy, as they don't give the frogs an opportunity to escape like a cooler lid being opened.

If the pond is too deep to maneuver along the bank, a small canoe or jon boat works well with an electric motor or paddle, but it's best to have at least two people in the boat. Giggers in boats can take turns keeping the light focused on the frog and paddling or controlling the trolling motor while the other gigger focuses on making a good stab at his prey.

Hook-and-line frog enthusiasts focus their "fishing" attempts during the day, when frogs are focused on flying insects. Using a long cane pole, anglers dangle a small fly in front of the frog, attempting to fool it into thinking it's an easy meal.

Cleaning the frogs after a night of gigging is relatively simple. Cut it in half just above the waist, then peel down the skin from the legs with a pair of pliers. Snip off the bottom feet and the legs are ready to be grilled or rolled in your favorite breading and fried.

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