It was not a solo, but a chorus.
All up and down Kinniconick Creek their voices seemed to blend in a late night serenade:
“Jug-o-rum, jug-o-rum, jug-o-rum …”
And then, from the opposite shore, another member of the choir chimed in:
“Come on over, come on over, come on over …”
There were three of us in that 17-foot canoe. My son, Kendall, was in the bow. He held a seven-foot pole with a three-prong gig on one end. My other son, Kelly, was on the middle seat. He held a three cell flashlight with fresh batteries.
I was in the back, manning the paddle.
There was no moon in the sky. The trees formed a canopy over the stream that shut out even the starlight.
Kelly shined the light along the shore until, suddenly, its white beam came to rest on our quarry. The bullfrog sat on some lily pads at the water’s edge. He did not move. The light seemed to mesmerize him.
“Keep that light on him, Kelly. Get us a little closer, Dad,” Kendall said.
I found myself wishing we had brought the cartop boat. It was five feet shorter than the canoe, but much wider, much more stable.
“Careful now, boys, don’t get excited and tip us over,” I said. “I don’t enjoy being thrown into dark water.”
A dew quiet soft strokes with the paddle moved Kendall within striking distance. He thrust the gig and scored! The bullfrog, a foot long counting its legs, went into the burlap bag. We eased on up the quite pool, searching for our next victim.
Those frog hunts on the Kinniconick are among some of the best memories my two sons, teenagers at the time, enjoyed together.
We had arrived early in the afternoon, unloaded out gear, and set up camp – pitching the tent, pumping up our air mattresses, unrolling our sleeping bags, and gathering in wood for the campfire.
After fixing our supper on a two-burner camp stove, we cast spinning rods for smallmouth and redeyes until darkness fell.
Next morning, we skinned the frog legs and fried them in an iron skillet for breakfast, along with sliced potatoes fried to a golden brown.
Can a king live better?
Kentucky’s frog season usually opens on the third Friday in May.
The daily limit is 15 bullfrogs. The regulations call for each day of taking bullfrogs to begin at 12 noon and end at 12 noon the following day.
It’s legal to take bullfrogs during daylight hours, of course, but most it is done at night, aided by a strong light to locate them at the water’s edge.
The American Bullfrog is native to the eastern and central United States, but has been widely introduced across North America and many countries around the world, including South Korea, Western Europe, Brazil, Columbia and Australia.
Bullfrogs primarily feed on insects, but it’s not uncommon for them to consume small snakes, snails, worms, fish or even other bullfrogs. Adults may have a body length of up to six inches with legs adding another seven to 10 inches.
They spend the cold weather months wherever they can get below the frost line, sometimes burrowing into the mud on the bottom to remain dormant until spring.
Bullfrogs breathe through their skin, so they can spend the winter underwater.
Both fishermen and hunters can legally take bullfrogs. If they’re taken by gun or bow and arrow, a hunting license is required. Bow hunters like to try their skill on them, reeling them in with a line attached to a special arrow.
If taken by pole and line, a fishing license is required. A piece of red cloth tied to a treble hook and dangled in front of their noses will often take them,
If taken by gig or by hand, either a hunting or fishing license is legal.
Male bullfrogs are very territorial. His distinctive deep bellow is partly to lure females and also serves to ward off other males.
Reach G. SAM PIATT at (606) 932-3619 or [email protected]