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Bass Fishing and Cold Fronts
Bob R. Myers - Pro Field Editor
January 2002

Winter bass fishing here in Oklahoma is without doubt the toughest time of the year for not only catching bass, but figuring out a pattern.

Any bass fisherman in this part of the country who ventures out on the water during January and February has seen firsthand the effects of a cold front. For the most part, the day after a cold front usually means bluebird skies with virtually little or no wind. Although, this would seem like a perfect day to fish, it usually means inactive bass and tough fishing.

Oklahoma's own Jimmy Houston, one of the country's top bass pros, says bass can be caught before, during, and after a cold front if anglers can learn to recognize how weather affects bass.

"In the winter I use the same criteria as I do anytime of the year to determine where I'm going to fish. I take into consideration the type of the lake that I'm fishing, the type of water conditions, and the type of weather that I'm going to be fishing in. Obviously if you're going out there doing a television show or just fun fishing then you have to look at the weather around you, but if you're in a tournament fishing then you have to look at the weather patterns in advance. You have to become in a sense a weather forecaster yourself, " says Houston.

"What is the weather doing at this particular time, is the water getting colder or warmer, and is it coming up or dropping? To me what the water is doing at the particular time is very, very, important."

"These are the things that I take into consideration, and after all of the variables, I try to eliminate certain water."

"A good scenario for a lot of winter fishing is that the fish will generally be relatively close to the creek channels and the river channels. They are generally on as steep a bank as they can find. On some lakes, like Tenkiller where I live, the bass are pretty much on a straight up and down bank, but always close to a channel. The jig and pig is your best lure for this situation."

"I've caught bass on a spinnerbait in the winter, running the bait on the surface during a snow storm. Even though that's not a normal situation, it shows you how as a bass fisherman you have to be versatile."

"If you have a situation where you have had lots of heavy rain and this brought the fish up towards the surface, the fish don't care that it's gotten colder and begun snowing because they are in a feeding mode."

"Personally, I don't thing that fish move because of cold front conditions away from where they were. I think that two things happen, that they move tighter into the cover that they live on and that their strike zone becomes very small. Although during a cold front there are always some fish that can be caught, I think for lot of fish their strike zone is practically nonexistent. I might not be able to catch them, but somebody can."

"I think that often the strike zone gets so small and the fish get so deep into the cover, they are hard to get to. If he's in a brush pile he will be right in the middle of it. If he's under a dock, instead of being near a ladder or a corner, he might be back 10 foot under the dock."

"We have to find a way to present a lure to them, no matter where in the cover they are located. If the fish are holding tight, then instead of going by a bush and maybe flipping it a couple of times, we might make 8 to 10 casts into that one bush."

"With low pressure before the front, the bass have expanded strike zones, and the fish are on the edges of the cover. After the front passes, the strike zone is much smaller and the fish less aggressive. The reason that catches go down is that we can't cover as much water effectively."

"I think that weather affects the fish more so than any other factor. It's not that we can't figure out what to do to catch bass during or after a cold front, it's just that it takes us longer to figure out how to catch them, and do it correctly," says Houston.

This time of the year you have to pick your fishing days carefully if you plan on catching bass. There may be days that you don't even get a bite, but usually if you find the fish cooperative, for the most part they will be quality size. For example, I fished R.C. Longmire Lake on December 21. I fished in the warmest part of the day, from 1130 a.m. until 2 p.m. I only caught 3 bass, but one weighed a solid 7-pounds, another went 6-8 and I had one small bass. All of these bass were caught on a firetiger series 200 Bandit crankbait. A 16 pound stringer in late December isn't a bad day of fishing.

I will be at the OKC Tackle Show in February, if you get a chance stop by the TLC Tackle Booth and visit.

Remember to practice catch-and-release.


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