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Ideas & Comments on Cold Front and Barometric Effects

by Jim Porter

This was a Web page discussion on cold fronts, falling/rising barometers and the effects on fishing. It is one of the best I have seen. Everyone was open minded and did not have the negative mindset that we saw 1 years ago when we did this same discussion. The moral is that Ď the more you are willing to open up and learn, the easier it is to overcome so-called fishing problems!!????
  1. The facts are that biologists have yet to find that the barometric pressure, IN ITSELF, has any effect on fish. However, as Rob says, when it is low, fish appear more active. So, the barometer is a good indicator, whether it is the cause or not. Usually, a high barometer means a front has passed and it has probably rained and is, or has been, windy. Both rain and wind washout the air and get rid of most suspensions and smog. Then, the sunlight really penetrates strongly (bluebirds, bright days!) I like to think that the strong light penetration is more likely to cause the fish to move tight to cover or into the grass. Seems to make sense. But, we donít really know. I will say this, a high barometer and a cold front absolutely DO NOT make fish stop biting. I have has many 100 fish days on strong cold fronts, once I was able to FIND the fish. The frontal condition makes you have to get into that cover with them and apply a lot of boat control (due to the wind). If you can adapt, the fish will still do their thing. The best way to overcome the cold front and wind is to play the moving water currents, either natural ones or those the winds induce. Just like in tidal water, a fish will set up his feeding on any moving water situation.
  2. I tend to agree with Jim on this with one exception. I have found deep water bass to be more active than shallow water bass during post frontal conditions. Jim I donít think current entered into the equation, I might be wrong. The fact that bass bite best on the front side of an approaching frontal system and bite least on the back side is a truism anglers discover wherever they fish for bass. Funny, big bass know feeding can be very successful during a prefront period and a falling barometer is just a dinner bell ringing for them. Note Jim preaching about current and that it can cancel out any ill effects of a front. He is right, Iíve seen it in tidal rivers. In conclusion, Iíd like to say that bass can be caught at any time of the day, BUT a prefrontal influence with a FALLING BAROMETER is the MOST CONSISTENT PATTERN I know.
  3. Go to www.fishing-hunting.com/fishingnews/ and read the fishing articles. Especially read those by Mr. Porter. I too used to believe in the old myths that you could not catch fish after a front. Jim Porter also puts forth some interesting information regarding current and its effects on fishing. You may not agree after you have read but it gives you something else to consider instead of staying home on those ďblue bird daysĒ.
  4. A prefrontal influence WITH a falling barometeróyou did not say BECAUSE of the falling barometer. Just like clouds donít necessarily mean rain, a fluctuating barometer MAY OR MAY NOT affect fishing. We really donít know what does it, but the falling barometer is there with it, whatever it is. SOMETHING about a front makes the fish move or react differently. IT DOES NOT make them STOP BITING, however. NEVER let anyone convenience you of that. That is NOT true. They still bite and will bite hard and fast. The angler just has to adapt. I can (and will, if you really want to be convinced) provide you a number of names and email addresses of parties I have proven this to. Cold fronts DO NOT affect the bite. They just affect the locations of the fish and the ability of an angler to compensate for winds, cold and fish repositioning. It is one of the real misunderstandings about fishing. Once you overcome that misconception, you will see your fishing and confidence improve drastically.
  5. Jim, I agree that bass can be caught during post frontal conditions. But I believe the bass are just not the same as during the prefront. Do you agree? I know the location of the bass changes but doesnít there activity level/strike zone also change? I am of the belief that a bass during/after a cold front is like a person that uses the drive-up window at a fast-food restaurant on a cold, wet day. He really doesnít want to go out, but because he is HUNGRY, heís willing to reach out and take a bag of food. Thatís exactly how MOST bass are during/after the front. They wonít actively chase prey, but if your offering happens to be close enough, more than likely theyíll stretch out and take a shot at it. The falling barometer is the dinner bell or the wakeup call, but that alone sometimes doesnít get them going. Cloud cover with reduced light and visibility are this predatorís aids in catching prey. Wind which causes grating patterns on the waterís surface reduces visibility further. All these things work in favor of this predator. There are exceptions to every rule and I fully agree with Jim on how currents can cancel out mother natureís bad effects. And when confronted with post-frontal conditions, bluebird skies I trust finding and catching active bass in current. BUT if I could choose when to go fishing, I would choose a prefront condition. One of the best days Iíve ever had was when an approaching front had stalled a day or so away and the cloud cover HAD NOT yet arrived. The sun was intense and burning, but the fish were stimulated by the falling barometric pressure and bit like crazy. These were big fish +4lbs caught on every cast, the dinner bell was ringing and that was enough to get them going.
  6. I agree that SOMETHING appears to happen to the fish. BUT, I just canít tell if it effects their feeding or if they just ainít there no more. I know three things for a fact cancel out, completely to partially, a old frontís effects.

  1. I can go deeper. If I have a school of fish 20 feet or deeper, the front seems to have no effect whatever on them. But, it usually effects my ability to hold the boat, present the lure, and feel the bite. But, thatís MYT reaction to the front, not the fishísí.
  2. I can go right into the densest part of the grass bed or other dense cover. I mean so for as to pole my way in. They donít appear spooky either. I get right on top of them an fish a worm or jig straight up and down in whatever openings I can find. Can catch a lot of fish that way, and more than usual share of big ones.
  3. Finally, and the most consistently productive, is to find moving water. If it happens to be an overflow or floodgate that is running strong, the bass are most often chasing shad and turning somersaults. Now, THAT level of activity is why I say a cold front just does not make them stop feeding. I have seen them wild after bait fish on cold fronts just too many times. I wish I could talk to a fish for a few minutes because I would like to know the real story. Cold front do appear to slow things down. But, if you learn the compensation things to do, it really can stay just about as good. Just have to fish a bit differently. Anyway, the challenge is what keeps it fun!!


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