Smallmouths and fall cold fronts

About the author

Stephen Headrick

Stephen Headrick

Stephen Headrick is better known to the bass fishing world as the Smallmouth Guru. He lives in Celina, Tenn., and is the owner of Punisher Lures.

To hear a lot of anglers tell it, cold fronts are about as bad as anything can be as far as bass fishing is concerned. That might be true (maybe) with largemouth and it might be true (sort of) for spring smallies. It is not true, however, when it comes to fall smallies. In fact, fall cold fronts actually turn them on.

Exactly why is something a lot of us disagree about. I think it’s because sudden cold weather triggers a response in them that says it’s time to feed up before winter arrives. If I’m right, that means all the talk about frontal bass wanting small, subtle, slow moving baits isn’t true. What they really want is something to eat — a lot of something to eat — and they’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen.

So anyway, there’s a cold front that’s supposed to blow across much of the country this weekend and early next week. We need to take advantage of it.

The bait I like the best for the conditions we’re experiencing right now is a hard jerkbait. There are several good ones around. I’d say you should pick the one you have the most confidence in and go for it. Natural colors seem to work best for me, but if the water has a little stain to it you might want to consider something with chartreuse or red on it.

It’s important to keep your jerkbait moving. Slow pulls and long pauses are usually not the ticket in October and early November. Short, sharp jerks followed by very short pauses are much better. These are feeding fish. There’s no reason to tease them. Force them to make a decision.

I also like spinnerbaits for fall cold front fishing. Double bladed models are good but so are single spins with big, hammered Colorado blades. Again, keep them moving.

Nothing I’ve said means that you shouldn’t try a jig, especially if there are a lot of crayfish in your lake or river. Jigs have always been a staple for me, and I suspect they always will be. Browns, green pumpkin as well as peanut butter and jelly are always good. That said, black and blue works darn near anywhere.

When you’re picking a spot to fish, it’s important to pay attention to the shad or whatever other forage is in your lake. In some places around the country they’re already back in the creeks. In other places they’ve just started to move and you’ll find most of them still in open water, but near the creek mouths.

The importance of analyzing your local conditions cannot be overstated. In some of our northern states there’s already been a hard frost and guys are wearing long underwear when they’re out on the water. Here in Tennessee, however, we haven’t even come close to having a frost. That makes a big difference.

Right now is the time to get going. If you wait more than a couple of weeks, you’ll probably miss some of the best smallmouth fishing of the year.

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