OUTDOORS: Fishing and frogs up next

BILL WEHRLE, C-T Outdoors Sports Editor

By BILL WEHRLE, C-T Outdoors Sports Editor

Spring turkey season has been over for more than a month now and Missouri outdoors lovers might be looking for other activities to keep them occupied until fall’s hunting gets them going again.

For many of us “gotta get outdoors” types, fishing and frog hunting are waiting to keep us outdoors and having fun while we’re waiting for Sept. 1’s hunting opener.

Fishing is available all year around, but some folks – like me – get so wrapped up in chasing turkeys that fishing takes a back seat until the turkey season’s over.

We probably missed the spring crappie spawning run, a great time to be fishing, but we know that the crappies weren’t all caught last spring and they’re still out there, just a little harder to located now that they’ve moved to deeper water.

They’ll still be traveling in schools, so, if you can find one, you likely can find some more. They might not be as easy to catch on artificial baits as they were in April and May, but they’ll still readily bite on live minnows. They’ll likely now be gathered around cover like brush and weed beds.

Catfish have been caught in large sizes and large numbers in Grand River recently and channel cats are also biting readily in area lakes.

I hope you saw the May column I wrote about the 82- and 64-pounds catfish taken from the Grand during the last part of turkey season. Almost made me want to hang up my shotgun and go fishing, but I was still looking for a hard-to-locate gobbler that never did appear.

Bluegills are common in area ponds and lakes and are congregated in schools around cover. Almost all area lakes and farm ponds contain lots of  hungry bluegills and they bite hungrily on worms.

Where you find bluegills, you often find largemouth bass, and now we’re talking about my favorite kind of fishing.

Bass can be found in both shallow and deep water, but also are usually close to cover and their favorite food, bluegills. The water stayed pretty cool for longer than often seen, but is warming fast; it won’t be long before bass will be feeding on the surface (if they’re not already by the time you read this).

Catching bass on surface lures is my all-time favorite type of fishing.

Bullfrog season opens at sunset June 30 and then we’ll then have the opportunity for a “combo” fishing and frog-hunting trip.

Frogs are also a favorite meal for bass, so a great frog-hunting pond might not have a large bass population and a great bass pond might be low on frogs. However, you can skip from “frog pond” to “bass pond” handily and sometimes these two ponds are pretty close together. By the way, it’s entirely possible to fish for frogs. I’ve caught a limit of frogs on a rubber worm more than once.

If you want to be shooting your shotgun to have summer fun, don’t forget that clay target shooting is available locally in Trenton, north of Hamilton, and at Pin Oak Hill near Coloma (south of Chillicothe).

Summer really doesn’t have to a “down time” for outdoors persons!

(Bill Wehrle’s “Outdoors” column appears in the C-T every Saturday)