Cold fronts are a fact of life that every bass fisherman must deal with for half of a year. This begin in the fall, usually October, and last through April in most locations of the United States. You can hang up your fishing gear and just wait until May to begin bass fishing but, what do you do on those beautiful days in late October, November and March? Watch TV or go shopping with the wife? I don’t think so.
Let’s take a look at what happens before and after a cold front passes. Generally 24 hours before the cold front passes, the weather is beautiful – warm, sunshine, low or normal barometric readings and slight winds. Fishing usually is pretty good and you can catch bass reasonably consistently on a variety of baits. As it begins to approach, the skies may cloud up and the wind may increase but, the temperatures are still comfortable and fishing may even get better. Fish, especially bass, can sense the coming weather change and may very well go on a feeding frenzy because they will stock for the upcoming period of reduced activity. The cold front arrives and the skies are very cloudy, may even rain or storm a little, wind generally kicks up and changes direction from south or west to north or northwest. Fishing may still be pretty good at this point unless you experience a lot of heavy thunder. As the front passes, skies begin to clear, air temperatures begin to drop and the barometric pressure begins to climb. Fishing falls off sharply to no bites or activity at all. Why?
The traditional way of thinking has always been that the falling temperatures cause the water to cool thus putting the bass in a funk. Much research shows that in large or medium sized lakes or reservoirs that there is so much volume of water, the surface temperature may cool a couple of degrees, may be caused by wind action, but 6 inches below the surface the temperature remains the same. So water temperature may not play a role in the bass funk. Other things that occur after the passage of the cold front are the barometric pressure rises substantially and quickly. The wind blows from the North or Northwest and skies clear to brilliant blue and cloudless thus the term “Bluebird Skies”. If you go bass fishing now you will be lucky to get a bite. Why?
Research and underwater photographers have documented that bass move in very tight to the same cover they were on before the cold front came through. They also have documented that bass will not chase baits and appear to be very lethargic. The best theory as to why this happens is the substantial increase in the barometric pressure. Under normal weather conditions, normal barometric pressure, bass swim upright and in comfort due to many days of constant or very slowly changing pressure. As it passes, the barometric rises substantially and quickly thus causing the bass’s equilibrium to become disrupted. Best guess is that it will take from 24 to 36 hours for the bass to re-acclimate and become comfortably upright.
All indications from the research indicate that the bass do not leave the area and go to deep water but, rather, they just go deeper into the prevailing cover and become very inactive. The strike zone reduces to just a few inches, not feet as it was.
If you use your electronics to find the structure present, stumps, timber, moss or grass beds, creek channels, ledges, or depressions, you should find the bass. You will have to fish baits very slowly. Baits such as Texas-rigged worms, Senkos, pig and jigs, jigging spoons and slow rolled spinnerbaits would be ideal for this situation.
Remember to fish very slowly. Put the bait used as close as possible to the middle of the cover with accurate pitching or flipping techniques. Fish the bait very slowly and you may just catch some cold front bass.