Frog Catching 101

Do you want to give a whirl at catching your own frog?  Read through the instructions below and be the proud presenter of your own jumping frog at our festival.

Part 1

Welcome class, as you all know the annual Valley City Frog Jump Festival will soon be on us.

Today we are going to learn how to catch frogs. Although I cannot tell you which frog will jump the furthest (or shortest), I will give you instructions on how to make a frog net, catch, and even care for these slippery green critters.

As with any sport, the proper equipment can sure make catching frogs a lot easier.

I will start off by saying that any net will catch frogs as long as the webbing is small enough so not to let the frog escape. I, along with some of my more advanced students can catch frogs barehanded. With that in mind, I do have some recommendations and considerations when choosing or making a frog net.

We’ll start with hoop size- Bigger is not always better. A larger hoop is easier to drop on an unsuspecting frog, but can be quite cumbersome when maneuvering around brush, trees and weeds on the pond edge. Likewise, a hoop too small requires deadly accuracy to capture your prize thoroughbred. I have found that a hoop approx. 18″ wide is the perfect size. Any local department store (such as Wal-Mart) sells fishing nets this size for $4 to $8.

As you hold up your newly acquired fishing net you will feel confident that the webbing is small enough to capture your quarry, be warned- unless the frog is extremely large- it can get out. I recommend buying a minnow seine (same place as the fish nets). A minnow seine is a length of rugged netting material with openings around 1/8″. These seines come in lengths of about 3 ft. by 6 ft. and cost about $6.

We’re going to replace the fish webbing with the minnow seine. (Frogmaster’s comment; I find the minnow seine is a little stiff. A nylon ¼” mesh netting from a fabric store worked better for me.) This is fairly easy to do and takes about 15 minutes. Cut the fish webbing off the hoop. Measure the circumference of the hoop (about 5 ft for an 18″ wide hoop). Cut the minnow seine in a rectangle, 2 ft. wide by the length measured. I attach the seine to the hoop using ty-wraps every 4-5″ (wire will also work). I then close off the open area of the seine by joining the opposite edges and folding over. I’ve found small ty-wraps 1″ apart to work well. If using ty-wraps or wire, please trim excess and orient away from the opening of the net so not to injure the frogs.

The closer you get to a frog, the greater the chance he will jump away. You can greatly increase your success by attaching a long pole to your net. I suggest getting a pole, which is 6 ft. long. When attached to a fishing net, which is usually 3 ft. long will give you an 8-9 ft. reach. Any type of pole will do, but lighter is better.

I use ½”-5/8″ conduit and over lap the fishing net handle about 12 to 18″ and attach with duct tape (of course). Duct tape makes your rig easy to disassemble (using a knife) so it can fit in the trunk of your car or bed of your truck.

For less than $20 you can make a state-of-the-art frog catching machine which will offer hours of enjoyment and last for years.

This will end our class for today. Next week we will learn the techniques needed to catch and care for that trophy winner. See you next week, same time-same place.

Part 2

Welcome back class. As we know the Annual Valley City Frog Jump Festival is held in August.

Last week we learned how to make a frog net. Today we will continue our education on the proper techniques for catching and finally caring for your potential trophy winner.

We will be catching two types of frogs, The Bullfrog (Rana Catesbeiana) and the Green frog (Rana Clamitans Melanota). Both of these species of frog share the same habitat, on the shoreline of marshes and ponds. Although both frogs are very similar in appearance, the Green frog has two pronounced ridges or lateral folds down the back. Mature Bullfrogs are almost twice the size of the green frog measuring 6 inches in length.

Last class we devoted a lot of time to the frog net. Along with the net, there are a few other important tools used in catching frogs. Flashlights are a must! The brighter the light, the better. I prefer the type that straps on the head, but any will do. This type of flashlight keeps both hands free to capture your quarry. Bug spray is a must also. Early in the evening, mosquitoes can ruin any nighttime activity. After 11:00 pm mosquitoes pretty much stop biting.

Once you catch a frog you need a place to put it. Pant pockets work well for holding worms while fishing, but not enough room for frogs. An old pillowcase works well. Burlap or poly grain sacks also work fine. Dip the sack in the water every so often to keep it damp while your frogs are in it to keep them happy. Your feet may get wet depending on your hunting area. Rubber boots work well in very marshy areas. If wet feet are not a problem, an old pair of tennis shoes are the most comfortable.

OK, now let’s catch frogs. Although frogs can be caught anytime, after dark is by far the easiest. While waiting for it to get dark, practice dropping the net on an unsuspecting ball or pop can for practice. Groups of 2 or 3 people are the most effective; one to hold the net, one to hold a flashlight, and the 3rd to hold the gunnysack.

As you approach the pond’s edge be aware that frogs can hear very well. The slower and quieter you approach, the closer you can get. Stay as far away from pond as possible while still able to see the water’s edge. Use your flashlights to scan the edge until you see a frog. The eyes are very reflective and will appear to lighten up as the light beam hits them. Once you find one, the net man is to position himself (or her) directly behind the frog. The light man will be slightly off to the side of the net man, and the sack holder stays back. The light man moves slowly into position about 10-12 feet from the frog steadily holding the beam on the eyes of the frog. The frog cannot see you with the light in his eyes, but he can still hear you, so be very sneaky. Now the net man slowly gets close to the frog with the net suspended in front about 4 ft. above the ground (this is where a long pole is a good thing).

Once the net is above the frog, let it drop and apply pressure down to seal the hoop to the ground. Remember you are not swatting flies; you can injure your frog if you slam the net too hard. Also all that noise can scare other frogs near by.

OK, now your frog is trapped in your net. The light man now will quickly get to the net and grab the frog from outside the net. Holding the frog firmly but do not squish him (squishing seems to greatly reduce the distance they jump). While holding the frog and the net, walk away from the pond’s edge and get the frog out and into the sack.

Congratulations, you just bagged you first frog. Now switch off so each team member has a chance to net a frog. Continue around the pond in the same direction. Any missed or spooked frogs will be back on shore by the time you get around. If the pond is small you may have to wait 15-20 minutes for the frogs to return to shore.

We will now talk briefly about caring for your newly acquired frogs. Keep your frogs in a container such as a 5 gal. Bucket. Drill ¼” holes in the lid for air. Alternately you can use a soft screen material such as nylon window screen or minnow seine (not metal). When using a screen you have to fasten it so the frogs cannot get out. Small bungee cords work well. Keep your frogs in the shade and as cool as possible. You can feed your frogs crickets, moths or other insects. Please separate the large frogs from the small ones; they may end up as food.

This will end our course on frog catching. I am happy to say everyone passed with flying (or should I say hopping) colors. I look forward to see all of you at the jump