Let's address this age old question with simple logic.
First, what is a cold front? It can be a 40-degree temperature drop, a vicious
rumbling thunderstorm, or a howling north wind. A cold front could be all of the
above or none of the above. Who cares? You're not going to fish until after it
Recognizing cold front conditions after the cold front has passed can be
tricky and often can be hidden behind the disguise of a perfect fishing day.
Yes, "the perfect fishing day." It's the day you've invited your boss or talked
your buddy into taking the day off work. It's a day of weather so perfect that
the words "cold front" never enter your mind, at least not until the day is over
and you're trying to explain to your buddy why you didn't catch a single fish.
Failure to recognize a cold front is the major reason for many days each year of
poor fishing success. Learn to expect, recognize and accept cold front
Expect A Cold Front
When you say to yourself, "This great fishing is too good to last," and
everything you do works, look out! Here comes a cold front. As my old fishing
partner Bob Propst, Sr., would always say, "If you have two good days of walleye
fishing in a row, look out for the third!"
Recognizing A Cold Front
Consider the following scenario: The bite has been tremendous for the last
couple days, and you're hoping the wind will go down along with the temperature.
As you pull into the boat landing the next morning, your wishes have been
granted. As you look out over the water, you feel giddy with anticipation; the
wind has stopped, the surface of the lake is "looking like glass." The sun is
shining in a clear blue sky, and it's 20 degrees cooler then it was yesterday.
It's going to be the perfect fishing day - WRONG! It's a "MAJOR COLD FRONT."
Recognize it! Too often the most perfect fishing day of the year is often the
worst fish-catching day of the year.
Accept Cold Front Conditions
As the weather changes, so should you! Don't continue using the same
strategies that worked the day before. If you've made your first pass on
yesterday's fish and didn't get a hit, don't change color, don't change bait,
don't change presentations. Those tactics won't work. No matter what you do, you
can't catch fish that aren't there! Accept the fact that this is a cold front
and that the fish have moved. New locations and major presentation changes are
in order. Cold fronts trigger a defensive reaction in walleyes. Walleyes, whose
entire focus had been to seek food yesterday, will be seeking security today.
Regardless of the time of the year, think of cold front fishing as if it were
fall fishing. The methods and locations are the same.
If you have had hot fish scattered on a flat or on the top of a long
shallow point before the cold front comes through, they will be gone, but not
far. Use your electronics and start checking the closest drop-offs, at depths of
anywhere from 10 to 30 feet. Check the steepest drops on a break and be on the
look-out for inside turns or corners (cups) on these structures. You'll find
that with good electronics, cold front fish are easy to locate. You will also
find that these fish are hard to catch.
Cold front fish are "cold fish." They'll be in deeper water and tightly
schooled on the most vertical structure. Cold fish need time to react. Use a
presentation with longevity, such as vertical jigging or dragging a Lindy Rig
slowly through them. Patience is the key. Fish slowly and quietly with the
confidence of knowing that they will eventually bite.
Editors Note: This article is one of the 50 questions Mike
McClelland answers in his new book Walleye
Trouble-Shooting, click here to order.