March 19, 2001 by David Hart
Nothing can ruin a hot pre-spawn pattern faster than a cold front. While modest fluctuations in temperatures can have a slight affect on bass behavior, a powerful front that combines stiff, cold winds, bright blue skies and a sudden drop in water and air temperature can shut a fishery down in a matter of a few hours. At least that's how it seems. But the bass are still in the water and anglers who adjust their tactics to fit the mood of the fish stand a chance of catching at least a few bass. It's a scenario that every hardcore bass angler has to deal with and it's something that happens with frustrating regularity.
"I think the biggest factor is the mental one," says Texas pro Gary Klein. "Catching bass after a front is really pretty simple. I just put myself in an area that I know has a good concentration of bass and then I fish slowly."
Of course, Klein has the advantage of fishing a lake for days before and during a competition. He can learn where those fish are holding during periods of stable weather and then go back and work them over with the utmost patience. They move as the weather changes, but as the spawning season approaches, they won't go far.
For weekend anglers who don't have the time to find bass before the arrival of a front, however, locating a concentration of fish can be the hardest part. But then, says Klein, that isn't always so difficult in most situations.
"In natural lakes, for instance in Florida, the bass can be real tough to catch after a front because they can be anywhere," he notes. "When a front passes, they tend to bury themselves in thick grass and the strike zone becomes real small. Natural lakes are probably the toughest places to catch bass during a cold front situation."
Most man-made lakes, however, have a variety of shallow and deep habitat. Points, humps, creek channels and all types of cover offer bass and bass anglers countless options. And after the passing of a front, those fish tend to migrate towards predictable places and behave in similar ways.
"This time of year, I'll look for some sort of travel route that leads to spawning areas. Usually, that means creek channels so I'll often head to the back of a creek and start my search there," he says.
Of course, how far back he goes depends on how close the spawn is, and Klein may spend more time toward the front of the creek if it's early in the pre-spawn season. Largemouth bass use points and humps as staging areas, moving deeper or shallow as the weather changes. Such areas draw the most attention of pros such as Klein.
Once he finds those areas, Klein sticks to a basic tenet of post-front bass fishing - slow and low. He backs out and fishes deeper cover with a slower presentation.
"After a front, the size of the strike zone really decreases. Bass won't travel far to hit a lure, so you have to bring your bait to the fish because it's not going to come to your bait," explains Klein. "They also tend to stick real tight to cover when the sun is bright. Darkness is security to a bass. That's why they tend to roam more during low light conditions."
What he uses, he says, is less important than how he uses it. A number of lures will catch post-front bass. The trick is to simply adjust the speed of your retrieve and the places you use a specific lure.
"I like target-oriented techniques as opposed to random casting. I'm going to use versatile baits such as Berkley crankbaits, Hawg Caller spinnerbaits, and Lunker Lure jigs and I'm going to try to hit the cover with whatever lure I'm using. I think that's important," he says. "It's also very important to make real precise casts and I'm going to make several casts to one spot. Sometimes, it takes five or six to trigger a bass to strike."
Although some anglers fret about the exact bait and its color, Klein typically sticks with those lures he has the utmost confidence in. He does consider all the variables, but adds that he doesn't get wrapped up in them.
"There is no right way and wrong way to fish after a front. There are lots of ways to catch bass during high pressure conditions," says Klein.