A cold front is formed when a mass of cold dry air collides with a mass of
moist warm air, pushing the warm air mass along, usually in an east to
southeast direction. Cold fronts are associated with rough, unstable weather,
such as a thunderstorm, squall lines, tornadoes, rain or snow.
The approaching cold front is not what bothers the fish. In fact, some fast
and furious action can be had under ďpre-frontalĒ conditions. Itís what
happens after the front passes through the area. Usually, after a cold front
we are greeted with a drop in temperatures, a brisk wind from a westerly to
northerly direction, plus a bright, blue cloudless day.
The one element that harms the fish the most is light. Thatís why the
passing of a cold front is synonymous with poor fishing. We get an intense
light condition, a bright blue sky that will drive the fish to great depths.
At these depths the fish will become very dormant and inactive.
A fish has no eyelids to block out the light. Rather than fight a bright
light condition in shallow water, it will drop to a lower level seeking a
This is not to say you canít catch fish under bright conditions. Deep water
interpretation of structure and knowing where to fish deep, plus knowing how
to present lures at the proper depth and speed can help offset these bad
Crankbaits are a great way to find those walleyes in cold front conditions
because you can cover a lot of territory and concentrate on walleyes that are
active. You may catch more walleyes on live bait rigs, but youíll catch a
bigger average size on crankbaits. In addition, crankbaits offer a rapid way
to eliminate unproductive water. Plus, you can use the crankbait as a locator
bait and then finesse them with live bait.
Two basic types of crankbaits can be used for the majority of your
shallow-water walleye fishing. One is a long, thin floater diver like the
Original Rapala. These have a lazy, side to side action thatís attractive to
walleyes. The other type is a standard, bass style crankbait. But when you
choose this style, use the smaller thin crankbaits in cold front conditions.
The larger models donít produce as well for walleyes. Select the smallest
models that have deep-diving lips. Lures like a Shad Rap are excellent for
this type of fishing. In general, use bright, visible colors like fluorescent
orange or chartreuse in darker water, and subtle colors like silver, blue or
black when the water is clear.
Backtrolling is a method of slowly maneuvering a boat with the outboard in
reverse to achieve precise line and bait placement along a specific depth
contour. This technique was designed to work with jig-and-live bait
combinations, jigging spoons and bladebaits to catch walleyes. Backtrolling is
still one of my favorite methods to catch deep water cold front walleyes.
Weather conditions often determine walleye location, dictate presentation,
and ultimately measure success, yet weather is probably one of the least
understood element of the fishing equation.
Regardless, of the myth about fall fishing, just try these techniques and
you will be successful.