American bullfrog provides unusual fishing fun and a tasty treat

Brandon Flack’s day job is regional wildlife biologist and he manages the C.J. Strike Wildlife Management Area in southern Idaho. In his free time he’s hunting or fishing, and packs the family freezer with elk, deer, bear, waterfowl and all kinds of fish. Recently he added a new fare to the family dinner table – the American bullfrog.

The American bullfrog is not native to Idaho. Its home turf is the eastern half of the U.S., but has expanded its territory into the western states. Here, it has come to dominate wetlands and threaten native species. By Idaho rules, it is considered an introduced, unprotected species. By Brandon’s rules, it is fun fishing and good eating.

In Idaho, there are several ways to harvest bullfrogs: by hand, archery equipment, spearing and fishing. Brandon prefers fishing and in honor of the southern tradition of ‘gigging’ he jokingly calls fishing for frogs, ‘frigging.’

To learn how to fish for American bullfrogs, join Brandon Flack on an early morning frigging adventure to a small slough in southern Idaho.

 

Brandon’s tips for frigging

  • Have an Idaho fishing license.
  • Use fishing tackle you already have.
  • Use a small to medium size circle hook or offset hook.
  • Use a soft plastic bass bait and no weight on the hook or end of the line.
  • Locate frogs with your eyes; pitch your bait at them.
  • Use a jigging tactic to lure them to the bait.
  • If you don’t first succeed, try again.
  • Keep all the frogs you catch. There is no limit to the number of frogs you can harvest.

Where to find bullfrogs

American bullfrogs thrive in warm, shallow, calm waters, such as wetlands, ponds, sloughs and old river channels. Look for very large tadpoles in the shallows and adult frog heads on the water’s surface.  Listen for vocalizations that sound like, ‘jug-ah-rum, jug-ah-rum,’ especially at night.  

Several Wildlife Management Areas in southern Idaho –  C.J. Strike, Montour, Payette, Fort Boise, and Hagerman WMAs – have good bullfrog habitat. The best time to access waters on these WMAs is August and September, after their seasonal closures to protect nesting waterfowl and upland birds. Bullfrogs have been observed in the Panhandle and Clearwater regions of Idaho, as well. Other potential bullfrog areas could be right around the corner at the city pond!

How to prepare and cook frog legs

 Now that Brandon has a cooler full of bullfrogs, learn how to clean and cook them up for a dinner the whole family will enjoy.

 

Miscellaneous but interesting observations

Bullfrogs are carnivorous – They eat anything they can put in their mouths, including birds, rodents, snakes, other frogs and amphibians.

Bullfrogs are sedentary, ambush predators – They sit and wait for potential prey to pass by their location. They wait and ambush their prey; they do not actively hunt for food.

Their population is growing –  Even though it takes bullfrogs 3 years to mature, once a female breeds at around 4-5 years of age, she produces up to 20,000 eggs in a single cycle. The eggs and tadpoles are not palatable to predators, so there is little natural mortality.  Predators also have a hard time keying in on adults because they are sedentary and do not attract a predator’s attention.

Visit this webpage for more information about American bullfrogs in Idaho.