I’ve been noticing more and more people are finding my blog through this search term. If you did, thank you for viewing. After thinking on it for a day or so, I believe that it wouldn’t be right of me to ignore this condition and not write a comprehensive article on it. I’m sure that their are a few, if not most, of us that can’t pick our fishing days by the best conditions. Personally, I get to go fishing when work and the family don’t have me tied up. So that means I have to fish through tough conditions some times. And they don’t get much tougher than the day after a cold front.
The first thing that I want to say about Cold Fronts is that no one cold front will affect catfish the same. Cold fronts effect catfish differently based on season, depth of fish, amount of water flow, baitfish activity, temperature drop, wind conditions, cover, and water clarity. All of these will play some effect on how the catfish will react so let’s take a quick look at each condition individual. Our goal here is to define what are the worst case conditions and what are the best. If we can find the best case condition, we might be able to put together a productive pattern to use before we even get on the lake.
Conditions that Effect Cold Front Catfish
Seasons- Catfish take up different locations and have different goals during different seasons. In spring, catfish are trying to move shallow to feed and spawn. But they are dependent on warming temperatures. If a cold front comes in, catfish will have to stop moving shallow. They might even move back toward their deep water holes. In summer, catfish are already deep and cold fronts are as severe. The fish will still be affected but not enough to cause concern in my mind. Early Fall cold fronts might actually start a huge feeding movement. So this can be a great thing as long as the temperature drop isn’t over 10 degrees. Late Fall and Winter cold fronts can cause lock jaw when fishing for catfish. They will still bite but you have to be precise and have a little luck.
Depth of Fish- Catfish are effected by cold fronts differently depending on their depth. Shallow catfish will completely shut down. Deep catfish might feel the change but they may still feed. If a bad cold front comes through, I want to be fishing for the deepest fish in the system. These fish will be the least effected by cold front.
Water Flow- Flowing water, or current, has a wonderful affect on fish. It makes them work harder to live so they have to eat more calories. This makes for more active catfish. The harder the current flows, the move the catfish has to work in order to stay in his area. A catfish might notice the cold front in a stream or river. He might even not want to eat but his body will tell him that he needs to eat something. If he doesn’t eat something, then he won’t be able to live. So you can expect catfish to bite in rivers no matter the conditions. So a quick thing to remember. After cold fronts, current is good. No current is bad.
Baitfish Activity- I don’t know how many of y’all watched the Bassmaster Classic a few years ago at Lay Lake, Alabama. The tournament was in February, and the fishing was terrible. Cold weather, cold front, and in-active fish would make you think that no one would catch a fish. Well the winner averaged over 17lbs per day of largemouth bass. Now that’s a lot of bass but I’m sure that you are wondering what this has to do with catfishing. Well he also caught a 20 lb catfish. There were a lot of things happening in that fishing spot but the most obvious was the baitfish. When he was catching fish, you could see shad jumping everywhere. The place was full of active and excited shad. On the second day, he didn’t do so well. He’s response to that was that the shad left. That means that the fish’s activity was strictly dependent on the shad being in that area. When you are fishing in and around cold front conditions, you need to focus your efforts where the baitfish are active.
Part 3 Putting Together The After Cold Front Strategy