The curse of the post-front

2011-06-25 00:00

POST-FRONTAL conditions are probably the most challenging ones for bass fisherman to stay motivated through. The vividly enhanced blue skies and crisp air temperature are the imminent signs of these days, and more concerning is the sharp rise in air pressure associated with the passing of the front.

It is not the cold front itself that shuts down the feeding of bass; rather, it’s the rising pressure that comes after the cold front. It is suspected that this rising pressure has adverse effects on the bass’ swim bladder and causes them to have difficulties maintaining a constant equilibrium in the water. They therefore have to change their depth locations to rectify this imbalance in pressure-scientific stuff. We can debate and speculate how post-frontal conditions impact bass behaviour or we can stop trying to be biologists and go fishing. I choose the latter. The fish have normally gorge themselves during the approach of the front as their acute senses have forewarned them of the unstable weather to come. During the days of the front the cloudy, windy conditions can still get the bass to react in the shallows, making for predictable fishing. It is, however, the first few days after the front has passed that the fish can really shut down and we sometimes can’t choose when these days affect us.

We need to know what the bass are thinking during these days and better yet, how we are to catch them. So what are they thinking? Well, they have had no shortage of food building up to this moment and are not in any hurry to start hunting again. They have more than likely retreated to the break lines to await the inevitable rising of the cooler water temperatures before resuming their movements. Each day of stable weather better aligns the factors needed to get the bass in the mood again.

I have a few foolproof tactics that seem to put fish in my boat no matter how blue the skies or how the bass feel. Before you decide how you are going to catch them, you need to understand how they are going to adjust or relocate on these days.

Shallower fish will more often than not stay shallow. They will seek out the thickest cover they can find, be it timber or vegetation, and hold tight to the cover. Deeper fish will use sharp break lines and channels and gravitate to the thickest brush-piles or rock-piles they can find. My first tactic in the shallows is pitching a jig-and-craw combination in the densest vegetation on the lake. I will make repeated pitches into the same piece of cover and will constantly be reminding myself to “slow down”. I know the fish are there, but I am also aware that their strike zone is not as large as it normally would be. My jig is going to have to get in their face to force a reaction. Don’t forget this, be methodical. Naturally I will ensure that I downsize in weight and profile as well as shorten up the jig trailer.

Another classic post-front tactic is a suspending jerk bait fished along outside weed lines. Although the fish are likely to be lethargic, there is an unmistakable urge for them to eat a jerk bait fished enticingly slowly. Weed lines are my favourite: I will let the bait hang motionless as close to the edges as possible for as long as possible. Trust me, this gets them out the cover. Submerged vegetation is the cue for a lipless bait. You need to make long casts and let the bait sink into the grass. Rip it free, crank it a few times and drop it back into the grass. This yo-yo style can make bass bite even when they have no intention to.

Get out on the lake and catch some bass, and remember to release your catch alive to prolong the sustainability of our resource. E-mail me with reports, pictures and questions at

Catch ’em up!


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