Monday, October 18, 2021

American bullfrog fishing abounds in the Panhandle Region

by T.J. ROSS Contributing Writer
| August 24, 2021 1:00 AM

For those looking for a new quarry to pursue during the hot summer months, consider fishing or “frigging” for American bullfrogs

Fishing for bullfrogs? Is that a thing?

According to regional wildlife biologist Brandon Flack, it most certainly is. With nothing more than a fishing license, basic fishing gear and a good bullfrog spot, one could be frigging for bullfrogs in no time.

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 Flack'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.’

Where to find bullfrogs in the Panhandle Region

Bullfrogs live, grow and reproduce in the warm, shallow and calm waters often found in wetlands, small ponds and sloughs. Such habitats are scattered across the landscape of the Panhandle Region, and many of them are known to hold plenty of bullfrogs.

“There is a good chance bullfrogs will be in most warm, shallow bodies of water in the valleys of northern Idaho,” Regional Wildlife Diversity Biologist Casey McCormack said.

If you’re interested in giving frigging a try, check out some of the spots recommended by Fish and Game regional biologists in the Panhandle. This is not an exhaustive list, but it should get you headed in the right direction.

Boundary-Smith Creek WMA

McArthur Lake WMA

Jewel Lake

Kelso Lake

Benewah Lake

• Wetland ponds around the St. Joe River and St. Maries River

• Albeni Cove, Oden Bay and Cocolalla ponds on Pend Oreille WMA

• Bare Marsh, Black Rock Slough, and Thompson Slough on Coeur d’Alene River WMA

As an added bonus to having fun and eating well, frigging is a great way to help slow the spread of the American bullfrog. They are not native to Idaho, but they have certainly made their mark. American bullfrogs tend to dominate the habitats where they live, and they often threaten other native frog species by eating their food or actually eating the native frogs. There is no limit on the number of bullfrogs you can harvest, so bring a bucket and fill it with bullfrogs!

T.J. Ross is senior fisheries research biologist for Idaho Department of Fish & Game.