Confronting the cold

Cooperative and kind, moody and temperamental, straight-up bad hair day. Sure, we could be describing a teenager’s dynamically fluctuating dispositions, but we’re actually talking about fourth-quarter weather — specifically that meteorological mayhem we know as a cold front.

The days before, during and after a front can bring a mix of challenges and opportunities. Understanding what to expect, where to look and how to approach the fish greatly impacts your day's outcome.

The cycle

One thing is consistent, an approaching front brings a spike in angling activity that’s largely due to falling barometric pressure. Pre-front fishing is good, the front’s passage can be stellar, but post front — well, ya know.

“The fish sense the pressure change, they loosen up, they get more aggressive and they bite moving lures,” said pro Timmy Horton. “You usually have clouds and some rain with that, which along with the pressure, is going to make them more active.

“It’s like we humans feel more active when a storm comes through because the low pressure just feels better. That’s magnified in the water, so the fish are moving around more.”

Once the front comes through, life takes a turn toward the dismal, as the water temperature falls and the weather system sucks all the clouds out of the area. And then comes the real treat — high pressure. Bluebird skies, flat calm, full-strength solar assault — basically, nightmarish conditions for anyone trying to convince a bass to open its mouth (especially those temperamental Florida-strain divas.)

“Wind shifts will be another big change,” Horton said. “You’re going to have a prevailing south wind before the front and then a north wind after the front. That’s going to dictate where you can fish.”