Dealing with Cold Fronts
As bass fisherman we are constantly using the weather as an excuse for not winning tournaments, or not catching fish, and need to quit making excuses. We need to learn how to fish in different weather conditions.
Bass fisherman participate in a sport that exists in constantly changing weather. It is unusual when we fish two back-to-back days under the same conditions.
During the approach of a cold front the winds diminish and the sky becomes overcast. Then, it starts to rain.
The bass sense the change in wind and sky conditions, they know by instinct this is the beginning to bad weather, and they begin to feed. For this reason some of the best fishing exists when a cold front is approaching.
During this time the bass fill their gullets. Then, the wind picks up after the front passes, the skies clear and the bass become lethargic. Why? Because they have a full stomach!
Then, after the food in their gullet is digested, they begin to feed once again.
In a word, bass do not feed on the day after a front has passed because they are not hungry. Hunger returns after about 48 hours, and the fishing improves markedly.
Some may question whether this is the reason bass do not bite after a cold front passes through, but few question the fact that bass become inactive behind a cold front.
And fewer still question whether it is hard to get a bite behind a cold front.
When bass become inactive they tend to hold tight to cover. And on blue bird days they hold tight to cover. If the bass were previously feeding shallow, they will move to nearby shallow cover and hold tight to it.
If they were feeding in deeper water, they will move to a nearby ledge and hold tight to it. A front may cause a bass to move 50 feet but not several hundred feet.
And mark this well: Just because the bass are inactive does not mean they will not bite. Instead, it means they will not chase down a lure to strike it.
When bass are inactive, you have to put our lures right in front of their noses. This is true whether we are talking about shallow fish holding in brush, or deeper fish holding tight to a drop-off inside a creek channel. If the fish are holding shallow, the best bait to use is a jig-and-pig tossed tight to cover.
If there is buck brush in the area, throw the jig-and-pig right in the middle of each clump of buck brush. If there is a lot of buck-brush, concentrate on the brush in deeper water, and on the outside edge of the brush line.
As a general rule, the outside edge of buck-brush will hold more fish than the shallower brush nearer the shore.
If the fish are holding tight to a drop-off we use the same lure. We position the boat over the the creek channel, we pitch a jig-and-pig up onto the flat then slowly hop it over the drop-off.
We expect the bite to come as the lure goes over the side of the drop-off. We use black/blue pig-and-jigs in dingy water and pumpkinseed baits in clear water.
More often than not we will be using a 1/4th-ounce jig with a matching trailer.
If there are shallow fish, we expect to get bit when the bait: (1) hits the side of a stump, (2) hops parallel along a log, (3) in the thickest part of vegetation, (4) underneath the base of a tree, or (5) along the side of a large rock.
During early spring we expect the bite to come on the sunny side of these objects, but we fish both sides. The rest of the year, we expect the bite to be on the shaded side, but we also fish the sunny side.
If we do not find the fish shallow or on a drop-off, we continue to search for them. Two prime places we look are boat docks and brush-piles.
In both cases we work slowly and thoroughly. Because of the frontal passage, we have to put the bait right in front of the fish and this takes time. Boat docks hold fish year round and in all weather conditions.
You can count on it; they are there. You just have to get the lure in front of their noses. The same thing can be said for brush piles.
When fishing on a blue bird day expect the fish to be inactive and holding tight to cover. The best lures to catch them with are jigs-and-pigs, Gitzits or Texas-rigged worms. The fish will be holding tight to cover, and the cover they are holding to may be either shallow or deep.
If you do not put a lure right under a fish's nose you will not get bit. Fish slowly and fish thoroughly.