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Going frog wild on nighttime hunting trip

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Updated: August 20, 2014 6:15PM

Pairs of eyes popped, shiny bright, as Jeff Norris scanned the duckweed-clotted golf-course pond Monday night with his headlamp.

“There’s a good one,’’ he said.

With that, frogging was on in the western suburbs.

Think ‘‘Caddyshack’’ with bullfrogs in place of gophers.

I had not gone frogging since my brother and I did it on our nearby stream as kids. Norris offered the chance to share the adventure.

The idea is still the same, catch frogs so you can eat fresh frog legs.

Norris honed his method over the decades since he was a kid growing up near the steel mills in northwest Indiana.

He ties a three-foot section of monofilament directly to the tip of a telescoping Black Widow crappie rod. He ties a Wolf River jig to the end of the line.

The long rod allowed us to reach across ponds and ditches to dabble the hook in front of bullfrogs. When the frog grabbed the lure with its tongue, we gave it a second, then set the hook.

Once hooked, we swung them in, then unhooked them. The frogs were placed alive into a goose decoy bag, then cinched tight. Norris used a colored-bead counter, one he uses when crappie fishing, to count the frogs.

“Anybody who wants to count live frogs would have to be nuts,’’ Norris said.

In Illinois, where frog season is June 15 to Aug. 31, the daily bag is eight. A sport-fishing license is required. Frogs may be taken by hook and line, gig, pitchfork, spear, bow and arrow, hand or landing net.

Once I got the hang of it, the hunt took on a life of its own. At one point, I was so engrossed in shining a light on a shoreline frog for Norris, that I went knee deep into a pond. Much to his roaring laughter.

My favorite catch of the night came on a big one tight to shore. Norris finally found it. I dabbled it blind on his instructions, “Three inches left, front, left. Now, set the hook.’’

We would pull up to spots, stop, listen, go look, then hopefully hook.

Norris did a nifty job of plucking an eighth one from a weedy shoreline spot.

It was time. Well past midnight.

To clean frog legs, girdle the skin around the waist, then pull it down with pliers and cut the legs from the body and feet.

Radio waves

Dan McNeil is scheduled to talk life, fishing and a 50-inch muskie Friday on Stray Casts radio — 6-7 p.m., WJOB-AM (1230) — with myself and cohost Bobby Bergren. “Chef Todd’’ Kent makes it double-celebrity night. For those who do not get it on terrestrial radio, best is the free WJOB app.

Stray cast

Tracking sports-talk radio is akin to counting live frogs.

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