How to Persevere After Cold Fronts When Kayak Fishing

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Next time you find yourself staring Up At A Bluebird Sky’s Keep In Mind My Tips On How to Persevere After Cold Fronts When Kayak Fishing Because You Can Still Catch Fish!


It would never Fail! Finally, I would get a weekend off from my nine to five and like clockwork Friday evening would blow in a cold front.  The next day would turn into a day of trying not to get skunked up until Sunday evening when things would settle down, then back to work. Over the years I’ve developed methods for fishing post front that I’ll share so that you know how to persevere after cold fronts when kayak fishing.  While it’s still very difficult to catch your limit on these days it’s still possible to have a memorable trip and bring some food home to the family.

“Nothing lowers moral or makes fisherman crazy quite like fishing their day off after a cold front.”


What is a Cold Front?


A cold front is exactly what it sounds like.  It’s the beginning stages of a cool down or the end of a warm cycle leading to sometimes drastic temperature shifts and prevailing northerly winds.  Springtime typically brings several cold fronts before a warming trend takes over leading into summer.  In Fall the cold fronts become more powerful bringing in the cooler conditions that lead to winter. 

Besides wind and temperature being affected, barometric pressure rises, and skies become crystal clear.  Usually, two or three days after the front has pushed through pressure will stabilize and winds will get back around to the west or south.


How do Cold Fronts Change Fish’s Behavior And How to Persevere After Cold Fronts When Kayak Fishing?


Cold fronts turn fish into full on Jekyll and Hyde.  When the cold front arrives clouds are thick, winds switch out to the southeast or east, and the barometer falls.  Often times rain accompanies and if you’re not afraid of a little weather it’s time to be out on the water!  Fish are extremely aggressive at this point chasing bait all over points and flats closer to deep water.   Any retrieve with just about any bait (larger preferred) will get the job done but remember for every yin there’s a yang.  

You can literally see it coming if you look back to the west.  A beautiful skyline break where the clouds are about to end and crystal clear skies begin.  Unfortunately the fish see this coming as well and as soon as the skies turn clear the baits and presentations you were using leading up to this moment yield little to no results.  It’s time for a change and following I will give you 5 tips to salvage these tough days.

Dock It

No, I don’t mean just give up! Docks are a place where fish will suspend post front.  Providing shade from the sun, fish will get really tight to dock posts and ladders.  A vertical presentation works well here.  Think of it as annoying the fish by keeping your bait in their faces until the fish reluctantly eats it.  Anytime I go vertical I will downsize my presentation.  For Crappie this could be as simple as dropping down to a drop shot style or a plain 1/32oz jig. 

Not all docks are the same.  If you can find them close to the main lake or at the very least with a good drop off about halfway down the length then you’ve just put the odds in your favor.  Fish feel much more comfortable when they can swim up and down in the water column.


Bridge Foundations


Similar to docks bridges hold fish all year long.  One major difference is that bridges create pinch points where fish must pass through if they plan to work their way down the lake.  After a cold front fish will suspend tight to the pilings.  I fish bridges the exact same way that I would a dock with one exception.

I will tie two jigs about 18 inches apart from each other.  My top jig will be the lighter of the two.  Also, my colors will be exact opposites so that I can quickly eliminate colors that aren’t productive and hopefully find the right color.


Use Live Bait


Now it’s getting extreme!  Live bait is something I try to avoid at all costs, but a strong cold front can really humble you.  There’s a reason that guides use live shad on lakes where clients arrive to catch the bass of a lifetime.  Large fish have seen almost every presentation possible and will likely not fall for it.  Live bait on the other hand still works!  Minnows will catch Crappie and worms will catch bluegill even after a cold front.  Locations remain the same, but you will likely catch twice as many fish going live after a cold front.


Fish A Fishbowl


Fishbowl– adjective- A lake that has little defining contour or topography and sparse structure for fish to hide in.

My best lakes for fishing cold fronts are “fishbowls”.  The reason is simple.  If there is very little structure and no real defining drop offs this means the overwhelming majority of fish will be located in little patches around the lake.  If one log sits in the middle of the lake, then you can bet that there’s a party going on over there.  With lakes that have a ton of structure the fish can scatter out in smaller schools lessening competition for food.  If there’s only a little structure in the lake than fish must compete and there are always fish willing to bite!  

Locate offshore structure and drop your bait down just above the fish.  This will allow the active fish to come up and feed on your baits first thus not disturbing the more finicky fish tight to the cover. The few aggressive fish will feed quickly.  Don’t be surprised if you go from quick action for a few minutes and then nothing after.  The fish that were already dormant will become skittish.  Simply come back later and you might be able to pick off a couple more.


Cover Water 

Wait a second!  You’ve preached slowing down and using live bait and yada yada.  

Well hear me out!  Being in a kayak you have one great ally on your side, stealth! Only a handful of fish are going to be active in a lake after a cold front so to me it makes sense to find as many of them as possible.  As a kayak fisherman my most productive method is by far my trolling strategy and if possible, I prefer to fish a “fishbowl” since the fish are likely to be suspended out in the middle of the lake.

Two rod holders sit next to me, one on my left and one on the right.  On my left I usually will tie on two Curly Tails distanced at least a foot apart and throw way out.  On my right I would do a single heavier jig and cast about half the distance.  I will then begin back peddling the entire lake.  When I do catch a fish I will keep an idea of the area it came from and return soon to see if there is an active school feeding.  If I don’t catch a ton of fish I know I’m going to get a great workout so I can always hang my hat on that.


In Conclusion On Trying to Catch Fish And How to Persevere After Cold Fronts When Kayak Fishing


Cold fronts happen!  We don’t get to always choose the days we get to fish so you have to make the most of it.  Fronts could create great fisherman, in fact if you only fished cold fronts and learned the techniques to become successful you will in all likelihood be the best angler on your lake.  I just stick to an old saying…”A terrible day on the water is better than a great day at work”-unknown.


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