Battling fall cold fronts

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Kevin VanDam

Kevin VanDam

In the world of professional bass fishing, Kevin VanDam is at the pinnacle and arguably the best in the world.

There are two times of the year when cold fronts have a dramatic impact on fishing and one of them is right now – during the fall season.

Like the spring, fall brings in a lot of fronts with cold Canadian air pushing deep into the south. This can cause a severe change in water temperature as well as air temperature and leave the bass in a funk.

Those fronts are usually accompanied by heavy north winds that really diminish surface temperatures and can cause the lake to “turnover” in a short period of time.

Also, the lakes are usually lower because of dry summers or winter drawdown that begins in the fall. Low water diminishes the shallow water cover and most lakes get ultra clear.

All of those elements will affect the bite dramatically.

But you can still catch ‘em.

Of course, catching bass ahead of a front can be easy. But after the front passes and we get those windless, bright sunny days, the bass go into neutral mode.

There are two ways to attack the problem; fish smaller baits with slower presentations that antagonize the fish into biting or use reaction baits with erratic presentations that trigger reflex strikes.

My problem with finesse tactics is the fish can be anywhere and you have to fish painfully slow while searching for them.

Of course, that’s not my style, so I choose reaction baits that effectively fish the depth, cover and water clarity effectively. You can cover water faster and locate bass sooner with those presentations than you can with finesse baits.

However, you’ve got to match the lure to conditions. It’s difficult to fish a jerkbait in mattered grass, yet if you’ve got a clear rocky point it can be a good lure to make bass bite. It has a lot of erratic action and stays in the strike zone longer to trigger a neutral fish into biting.

You also can use spinnerbaits and crankbaits, but you have to use them with erratic retrieves and make sure they bang into the cover. A crankbait that crashes along the bottom and pauses periodically or a spinnerbait that rips through grass and changes speeds can trigger a reaction from a passive bass.

I also like walking topwaters like the Strike King Sexy Dawg that has a lot of erratic action but stays in the strike zone longer.

Look for baitfish, too. The bass are focused on shad so you have to be around bait to find the fish. Keep in mind that the baitfish won’t be very active early in the morning but they will get more active in the afternoon as the surface temperature begins to warm and the bass start chasing them again. That’s why the afternoon bite tends to be better during these brutal cold-front periods.

Stick to shad-colored lures and the more natural colors in the clear water. You can use baits with a little more color in stained water.

You’re not going to get a lot of bites, but by working lures with erratic action in those areas where you see shad, the bites will come.

Remember, it’s all about the attitude!

Kevin VanDam's column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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