The Problem: Cold Front
— Negative Fish
–Yesterday’s Patterns Blown
— Walleyes In New Location
— Flat, Calm Water
— High Light Penetration
Cold fronts are as inevitable as death and taxes. On the tournament trail, they usually pass through the night before competition. If you’re gearing up for a weekend trip, they usually arrive Friday night. Either way, they’re bad.
The first step is to recognize that a front has passed, then change your tactics accordingly. Bluebird skies, calm conditions and cool air temperatures commonly follow fronts. There are a variety of theories as to what happens to walleyes, but the bottom line is they react in a predictable manner. Fish scattered over a feeding area will congregate on vertical cover, often along the edge or base of a break.
Say you hammer walleyes on top of a flat one day, then a front blows in. Look on the edge, the sharpest part of the drop-off, and “cups” or inside turns in the breakline. The fish usuallly don’t go far from the feeding zone. Use your sonar to check the closest drop-offs in depths from 10 feet to 30 feet. Since post-frontal fish tend to hug bottom, you may not see them as definite hooks. If you think you see a bunch of rocks on the edge of a flat — it’s more likely walleyes lying belly-to-bottom.
When you find a good spot, fish it hard and slow with slip bobbers, live bait rigs or by vertical jigging. Modest-size bait is the norm, but sometimes a big chub will draw a reaction strike.
Weed-oriented walleyes often move from the tops and edges of a weedbed into the interior. Rigs are out, but you can probe small openings with a jig or slip bobber.
Walleyes often move into deep water following a front, but I’ve seen them move shallow, too — as long as there’s vertical cover. Might be tight to a rocky bank in 5 feet of water, might be a channel edge in 10 feet. In the shallows, long casts and zero boat noise are keys to turning nightmare walleyes into a dream come true
Before a cold front hits, active walleyes (A) are scattered over key structure such as points, feeding shelves and reefs. After the front, lethargic –eyes (B) congregate on vertical structure like the edge of a drop-off. Cups or tight corners are especially good. McClelland’s advice: Fish ’em slow and easy.
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