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wicklundrh
12-22-2017, 11:05 AM
As a tournament angler and struggling outdoor writer, one of the most asked questions I receive deals with fishing in frontal conditions. Specifically speaking, most people want to know how I fish a cold front or post cold front. Although it would be simple to educate someone on a few tips, tricks, or tactics to help put a few more fish in the boat, I don’t feel it really does justice to the question. I think that, in order to put a plan together on how to catch fish in these conditions, you must first understand the effects these conditions have on fish. Recognizing these conditions, their effects on the fish, and which condition you are fishing, can be the keys to successfully filling the livewell.

The skies are blue, the wind is calm, and there are light fluffy clouds in the sky. Last night’s storm has given way to beautiful conditions. After an unsuccessful day on the water, you return to the dock, load up the boat and shrug your shoulders. “It was a great day for a boat ride”. All of us have been in this situation before! Had we recognized that we were in a “post front”, understood what the effects are on fish, their movement, and how they react, we would have been better equipped to set out, find fish, and actively target them. Instead, all we did was wash a few lures and work on our farmers tan.

Tournament anglers are usually asked some pretty tough questions. The reason being is that we often do not get a choice as to when we fish. We are forced to fish in any condition that presents itself. We fish a ton of days were the normal “sane person” would not think of putting their boat in the water. Sure, we all love to cherry pick the days we fish in order to give ourselves the best possible opportunity to put fish in the boat but, not everyone has the luxury of being able to do so. Their fishing is done on weekends, holidays, or the occasional after work trip. Like tournament anglers, they are forced to make do with the situation. They cannot push back their vacation until more favorable conditions reach the lake just as tournaments cannot cancel because of a cold front and fish that are inactive. Recognizing weather patterns and conditions will help you turn a less than favorable day into a productive one.

A “Cold Front” can be defined as: A zone separating two air masses, of which the cooler, denser mass is advancing and replacing the warmer air mass. Summer cold fronts reduce humidity as drier, cooler air displaces the humid warmer air. After a front passes, the skies clear as high pressure builds in behind the system. The key word in all of that scientific jargon is “PRESSURE”! It is a word we as fisherman are familiar with. In fact, we hear it all the time. The problem however is that most of us simply don’t understand what it means and how it relates to the water and the fish.

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Cold fronts bring a drastic drop in barometric pressure. As the pressure begins to drop, the fish become more active. Fish move and put on the feed bags! For many of us, fishing before a storm is about as close to perfect as we can get in terms of fishing. The fish are sensing the falling pressure and getting ready for what lies ahead. What is my go to bait for falling pressure? Just about anything I can get in the water. When targeting walleyes, I don’t think you can beat trolling stick baits at varying depths within the water column. Don’t be afraid to kick up the speed. These fish are on the feed and will smack anything that comes within sight or sound!

Post fontal conditions mean a bottoming out in the barometric pressure. These are those days immediately following a storm where the winds are light, the skies are high and clear, and those fish you found on shallow flats, sunken islands, and humps are long gone. Fish have gone in to a lethargic state and usually hold in areas close to steep vertical structure. Look for river channels, deep standing timber, or contour lines that are really close together on your depth finder. This will indicate a sharp drop off. You usually don’t have to look far from those shallow areas you found the fish in last week. SLOW presentations can be key. Understand that these fish are lethargic and might need to look at a bait for several minutes before they decide to eat it. Although walleye anglers are used to using kicker motors and trolling motors, anchoring can be key in catching post frontal walleyes. Live bait rigs under slip bobbers, Lindy rigs slowly retrieved, and Texas rigs are some of my preferred presentations. You will normally find these fish stacked on your screen and holding off the bottom. Jigs tipped with live bait is another good option as long as you are sure to put the bait in the strike zone. Bottom jigging is not as effective. You have to bring your offering up to the fish’s level. Another favorite tactic of mine is the use of a drop shot perch rig. I will use a bell sinker on the bottom, come up maybe 14 or 16 inches to my first offering, and then stagger another 12 inches to my next offering. My baits are staggered in a way to ensure they are in the strike zone of the fish I am marking on the screen. Very little rod movement is used in this presentation. I normally put the rod in a holder utilizing the “dead stick” technique.

Continuing fair conditions often mean that pressure is on the increase. After a few days of fair conditions, fish will begin to move back in to their seasonal patterns.

Warm fronts can be just as drastic as cold fronts. Just as a cold front quickly displaces warm air, a warm front as an equal but opposite reaction. Warm fronts bring a drastic rise in barometric pressure. During this drastic increase, the fish again sense a rise in the pressure and will actively feed. When the pressure hits it high upper limit, the fish will once again move off the shallow flats and sunken island and retreat to deeper, cooler water with less direct sunlight. A deadly tactic for warm fronts is to concentrate on weed beds. Walleye (and other fish) will seek the shelter of weedy areas in order to get out of the sunlight, cool their bodies, and lie and wait for an unsuspecting meal. Live bait rigs, weedless presentations, high speed trolling above the weeds, and trolling live bait rigs next to the weeds are dynamite in these conditions. When fishing weeds, it is important to remember that fish might need help finding the bait. Crawler harnesses is one of my favorite baits. The live bait gives off smell, the spinner gives off different flash, and the blade makes a thumping vibration that fish find hard to resist. Shallow diving stick baits in bright colors provide action and flash and can entice sun weary walleye out of the nastiest of weed jungles.

More times than not, if we can find out “why” something happens, we can better understand “what” is happening, and how we can tailor our tactics to the situation. I’ve read hundreds of articles that speak in great depth regarding barometric pressure. A lot of them talk about the same things I discuss in this article. Unfortunately, none that I can remember ever specifically state HOW the pressure actually effects the fish. I wanted to know what was going on in the water when the pressure rises or falls. I thought this would help me better understand the effects of these frontal conditions. After much research, the information I came up with helped paint a better picture as to why fish react during these changing conditions.

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Barometric pressure effects the amount of gas that can dissolve in water. High pressure means the more gas (such as oxygen) that can be dissolved in water. When pressure lowers, the gas is released. This information explains how a fish can “sense” when the pressure is rising or falling. As the barometer falls, gasses (oxygen) begin to dissolve within the water. The fish sense this, actively begin feeding, and move to deeper water locations with higher concentrations of oxygen. This also helps me better understand why the fish become lethargic after a front. The pressure has dropped and there is less oxygen (than they are used to) in the water. When pressure begins to build, the water again starts to hold more oxygen and the fish start to become more active.

Being able to put all the pieces together has helped me become a much better fisherman. Knowing what a front does in relation to barometric pressure and how that pressure directly effects the water has given me the understanding of what fish experience in their world. The next time you hear someone talk about how the barometer is rising or falling, you will understand what effects this has on your fishing. They might not!

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trypman1
12-22-2017, 11:36 AM
I am a believer, Thanks for the post!

Crestliner08
12-22-2017, 12:08 PM
Excellent explanation. When I was a working man and raising a family, I couldn't pick & choose when I could go fishing. Week days were basically out as my days ran an average of 10 hrs.. And that was usually 6 days a week. Then you had to take care of the house.....the kids......the wife......the relatives. Picking a time to go fishing never focused on the weather. You just went fishing....period! In those 40 - 50 years of living a "normal" life, I learned a thing or two, especially if I wanted to catch fish.

I came to the same conclusions you have in your research. But instead, it taught me when to go fast.....when to go slow.....when to fish heavy cover and when more open water structure was best to target. Tough way to learn though. Lots of times the "skunk" came out to play! Now a days, with computers, sites such as this, electronics and technology of the equipment, the task is somewhat easier - if you pay attention to what's going on around you!

Thanks for the write up. Very informative piece.

wicklundrh
12-22-2017, 12:33 PM
This article was written after I was asked a similar question in another thread. Instead of simply answering the question as far as what baits to use, techniques to use, or ways to do it, I thought it better to try and help explain the reasons behind it all.

I hated always hearing.. "the fishing should be good, the barometer is falling"... Thats great but what does that mean. More specifically, WHY?

2boatjoe
12-22-2017, 01:53 PM
Great read.

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barrelslime
12-22-2017, 02:19 PM
Very informative thanks for sharing

Lloakley930
12-22-2017, 02:56 PM
And here I thought cold air weighted more causing high pressure and warm air weighed less and caused low pressure. Dang internet lied to me again. Thanks for straightening things out.

SKs Crappie Catching Adventures
12-22-2017, 03:30 PM
Excellent read.... I'm in the boat of go when ya can & I don't like sayn luck has helped me....
Being willing to learn your electronics, have several "spots" to fish, knowing when to move, being willing to try several different jigs not only different colors but also sizes & going through the several different technique there are is what puts fish I my boat.
You have to pay attention to what you are doing & be able to repeat it when you do get bit....
This works great on crappie....
Thanks for the write up Wicklundrh....
You & Ketchn's write ups are well worth reading....

ad1974
12-22-2017, 03:38 PM
Very good read,thank you.

micorps
12-22-2017, 04:01 PM
Very good read and thank you for the answer to the question i had in the other thread. Instead of quoting your whole post below is the specific portion that is applicable to the specific scenario that was the basis for my question:

"Post fontal conditions mean a bottoming out in the barometric pressure. These are those days immediately following a storm where the winds are light, the skies are high and clear, and those fish you found on shallow flats, sunken islands, and humps are long gone. Fish have gone in to a lethargic state and usually hold in areas close to steep vertical structure. Look for river channels, deep standing timber, or contour lines that are really close together on your depth finder. This will indicate a sharp drop off. You usually don’t have to look far from those shallow areas you found the fish in last week. SLOW presentations can be key. Understand that these fish are lethargic and might need to look at a bait for several minutes before they decide to eat it. Although walleye anglers are used to using kicker motors and trolling motors, anchoring can be key in catching post frontal walleyes. Live bait rigs under slip bobbers, Lindy rigs slowly retrieved, and Texas rigs are some of my preferred presentations. You will normally find these fish stacked on your screen and holding off the bottom. Jigs tipped with live bait is another good option as long as you are sure to put the bait in the strike zone. Bottom jigging is not as effective. You have to bring your offering up to the fish’s level. Another favorite tactic of mine is the use of a drop shot perch rig. I will use a bell sinker on the bottom, come up maybe 14 or 16 inches to my first offering, and then stagger another 12 inches to my next offering. My baits are staggered in a way to ensure they are in the strike zone of the fish I am marking on the screen. Very little rod movement is used in this presentation. I normally put the rod in a holder utilizing the “dead stick” technique. "

It was the day after a cold front, so post frontal conditions, and still 20 some degree cooler than before the front. I could see all the walleye on the bottom stacked up. I was fishing a lindy rig at .3-.7 mph adjusting speed with leeches, chubs, and shiners is all i had in the boat. Every place i located fish near drop offs (top and bottom) i could not get bit. Well not at all, i had two bites, let them have line for 10 seconds, set the hook, and nothing. I only found two locations that marked alot of fish. The numbers were more than ive ever seen walleye fishing with 5-6 walleyes on my screen at anytime tim in a larger area, just wouldnt bite. Day 2 after the front went back with the same setup and same spot and was a feeding frenzy in the same cold conditions. I am thinking based on what you said above i shouldve anchored and took out the slip bobber rods which are always in my rod compartment. Slow trolling lindy rigs didnt do the trick the first day after the cold front. This was back in late sep in northern mn by the way. I really appreciate the time you put into this post and really helps alot. Tim

Just Steve
12-22-2017, 04:10 PM
This post needs to be "archived" "stuck" or put somewhere that is not lost.

Good job Rich

wicklundrh
12-22-2017, 04:13 PM
No problem Tim. I really keyed on what you spoke of regarding lindy rigs and fluorocarbon. Sitting still might have been the name of the game. Set out a bunch of slip rigs with live minnows, sit back and enjoy a nice beverage.

This also explains why tip ups some days work better than jigging. A walleye might stare at that bait for 10 minutes before taking a chance

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CrappiePappy
12-22-2017, 04:17 PM
This post needs to be "archived" "stuck" or put somewhere that is not lost.

Good job Rich

Copied to the Archives Forum.

micorps
12-22-2017, 04:27 PM
No problem Tim. I really keyed on what you spoke of regarding lindy rigs and fluorocarbon. Sitting still might have been the name of the game. Set out a bunch of slip rigs with live minnows, sit back and enjoy a nice beverage.

This also explains why tip ups some days work better than jigging. A walleye might stare at that bait for 10 minutes before taking a chance

Sent from my SM-J320V using Crappie.com Fishing mobile app (http://r.tapatalk.com/byo?rid=87936)

just goes to show how close but yet so far you can be walleye fishing, i am definitely going to keep this in mind in similar scenarios in the future. My favorite is fishing those small isolated lakes in northern mn that few fish. I have found a couple of those that take 2-3 minutes to get across at half throttle with good walleye populations. Btw i love my alumacraft comp 175 for crappie fishing, especially in the summer fishing in the chop from boat traffic.
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M R Dux
12-22-2017, 06:32 PM
Great info. I know your info has helped me become a better fish chaser, not always catcher.

sweathermon
12-22-2017, 08:03 PM
Thank you for th great read! Still being fairly new to crappie fishing that really helps me a lot. I've always heard the pressure makes a big difference on fish but I had never heard a reason why or what made the difference. Its information like this why I spend so much time on this site, you all are so great at giving information that really helps. Thank you all!

TheGrandPoohBah
12-23-2017, 09:33 PM
Thank you for sharing this information. A good read, and seems quite reasonable.

Redge
12-24-2017, 09:31 AM
Thanks Wicklundrh, I learned something. I appreciate the time you took.


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wicklundrh
12-24-2017, 04:08 PM
I explained this to a fishing partner on our way to dinner last night. We started looking back at successful tournaments and realizef the reason why.

I learned some very valuable things writing this piece.

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