L ongview Bass Pro Jim Tutt has been sharing entertaining stories with me about his nephew, Andrew, for several years now. To hear Tutt tell it, the Johnson-McQueen Elementary fourth grader is waay mature for his age and has a serious passion for hook and bullet stuff.
Based on the tales I’ve heard, my guess is that Andrew may have already killed more whitetail bucks and caught bigger bass than some of the adult readers of this magazine have—and he’s only 10.
“He’s a pretty unique little kid,” said Tutt. “He loves sports like baseball and football and he is good at them. But he is really eaten up with hunting and fishing. There aren’t a whole lot of kids like him.”
Andrew boated his biggest bass, a 9 1/2 pounder, at Lake O’ The Pines when he was only four. He has also shot nearly a half dozen bucks with his rifle. Now, he has big aspirations of getting in the woods at the family deer lease outside Mason with his compound bow or crossbow in the near future.
In the meantime, the budding sportsman is plenty content with his newest hobby and self-taught art—sight fishing for bullfrogs. I call it an art because that is exactly what the youngster has turned it into, right down the clothes he wears when he does it.
“They’re pretty smart, especially the big ones,” he said. “You’ve got to sneak up on them, and you can’t wear blue or red or they’ll spook. They don’t seem to react to white near as bad as they do blue or red, but it’s best to wear camo.”
Andrew doesn’t do his frogging in a stock tank or lake. Instead, he goes after them in the dilapidated in-ground swimming pool outside the rural home his parents bought back in 2012.
“The people who owned the place before us cleared some trees and brush and threw it into the pool,” said Tom Tutt, Andrew’s dad. “The side of the pool is cracked and we were told it will cost around $40,000 to fix everything right, so we decided to leave it like it is for now.”
Over time, the pool has partially filled with rainwater while duck weed and other vegetation have spread throughout. According to Andrew, the pool has transformed into an aquatic mecca for frogs, turtles and even a few water snakes.
When the youngster discovered the frogs in the pool, his first inclination was to figure out a way to catch them. He said his first bullfrog was the biggest of the bunch, an 18 incher with long, meaty legs that his dad fried up in a skillet and fed him for supper one night. He’s been catching and releasing them ever since.
“They tasted all right, but I didn’t like them that much.” he said.
Figuring out a way to consistently catch the frogs became a work in progress at that point. The youngster says he tried grabbing them with his hands and scooping them up in a fish net and a five-gallon bucket tied to a rope, but the frogs were too spooky and fast for either tactic to be effective.
His next attempt was using a hand line tipped with a bright chartreuse crappie jig. He would leave the crappie jig barely dangling in the water overnight in hopes that a frog might swim up under the cover of darkness and eat it, but he never got the first taker.
That’s when Andrew decided to try something a little more aggressive. Rather than leaving it in the water for a frog to find, he elected to try reeling a bait right in front of their noses.
Much to his surprise, the technique worked like a charm. It has since produced a small army of toads almost as long as his own arm.
Andrew’s bait of choice is a Texas-rigged Zoom Brush Hog. It’s a soft plastic, creature-style bait frequently used by bass fishermen in combination with Texas rigs and Carolina rigs. He says the main keys are rigging the bait properly and making the right presentation.
Tutt likes to rig the bait weightless because it’s easy to keep it skimming the surface on a fairly slow retrieve.
The young angler says the technique is always the most effective on frogs that he can see visually, but which are unaware of his presence. His typical plan of attack is to sneak quietly up to the pool’s edge to see whether a bullfrog is around.
Once he spots a frog, Andrew says he will get positioned so he can cast the bait well beyond it so as to avoid making too big of a disturbance and spoiling his chances.
“Then I’ll just reel it right past him,” he said. “Sometimes they’ll jump 12-18 inches to get it. And they don’t miss it very often. Sometimes two of them will start fighting over the bait at the same time. That’s pretty cool to see.”
As earlier mentioned, Andrew releases all of the frogs he catches. Just not back into the swimming pool. Instead, he carries them to a nearby 1 1/2-acre pond where they have significantly more room to hang out and be frogs in what looks to be a much more froggy-looking setting.
“I think I’ve caught about nine bigger than 12 inches out of there (the pool) so far,” he said. “They don’t fight real hard—about like a small bass. But it’s still a lot fun just trying sneak up on them and catch them.”
Email Matt Williams at [email protected]