SPRING COLD FRONTS:
As usual, the day before our long awaited spring fishing trip and a Cold Front moves through bringing with it the typical barometric pressure changes, a shift in the winds, bitter cold air and then the clearing bluebird skies. The result is difficult fishing conditions causing many anglers to struggle catching fish.
But the good news is that it is not impossible to catch fish during these tough-bite conditions. The key to knowing how or why fish react to spring cold fronts is understanding cold fronts and having patience and/or persistence in your fishing. Cold fronts are mainly a separation between warm air and cold air that pushes through an area usually from the north. As the atmosphere tries to stabilize during the changes of this spring season, there is always a fight going on with the unsettled cold air. As a cold front passes, the barometric pressure rises and it is this high pressure that is said to cause tough fishing conditions. For those of us that fish more often, we know that once the barometer drops back to a lower (or more normal) reading, fishing will get better but may take 2- 3 days.
We have read several ideas about how this rise in barometric pressure affects the swim bladder of fish but have not really found any scientific proof or findings (but it may be true). One thing we are certain of is that the whole environment of fish changes, such as water clarity, water temperature, light penetration, the plankton levels and more.
Since fish are cold-blooded, meaning their environment controls their metabolism, they sense slight changes to their environment brought on by the cold front, causing them to become inactive and a shrinking of the “strike zone” takes place. If we had found fish a week ago during fair weather conditions in a particular spot, we know they have not moved far after the front passes, but have just moved out to deeper structure or tighter to cover till more stable conditions draw near. This may just be a move out to the first break off a flat. When we say tight to cover, an example would be the times we have seen Bass and Crappie actually positioned with their noses right up against a tree limb or stick-up. As you can imagine, the key is using baits you can fish tighter to cover and keep in the strike zone longer for these inactive fish. One great presentation we have found is to fish vertical baits to more accurately keep baits in the strike zone.
Try to adjust your tactics to a more finesse presentations by down sizing baits and by all means fish SLOWER and with more patience. This finesse presentation is more important in clear water so be flexible and experiment with presentations or retrieves till you find what trigger bites then remembering what you were doing, what the bait was doing and where you were fishing when you got that strike. Keep in mind, not all fish are doing the same thing at the same time. And again, do not over look a vertical presentation as a way to get bait in front of these fish.
We have noticed that these conditions sometimes do not affect those deeper fish in the big deep lakes as much and it also appears at times to have less affect on some of the younger or smaller fish. The toughest fish to catch are those suspended over deep water and even worse if they are suspended in a clear lake void of common cover causing them to be spooked more easily. It may be hard to find these fish once they move, but persistence is important, use baits you know will catch fish and make the best use of your time during these conditions.
With time as you pay attention to these changes, you will start to notice a pattern to how fish relate to predictable spots after cold fronts. You will find your angling tested after a string of severe cold fronts, but if you abandon what worked yesterday and force yourself to adjust and change tactics to figure out what works, you can catch these Spring Cold Front fish!
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Till Next Time - GOD BLESS & GOOD FISHING !