April 07, 2016
So there I was one spring with a couple of hours to kill on one of my favorite local bass waters, catching one solid chunk of a bass after another in mere inches of water.
When my quick bass trip wound down, I was all giddy and simply couldn't wait to get back out on the water the next day.
Especially since I had far more time at my disposal and dreams of bass fishing grandeur running through my head as the search for a double-digit lunker continued.
The only problem with such dreams?
A strong spring cold front came in overnight, all but killing the shallow water bite and leaving me certain every bass in this North Texas lake had all but disappeared off the planet in less than 24 hours.
Ahh … springtime fishing.
Sunny and warm one day with red-hot bass fishing to go all around.
And then strong north winds, overnight low temperatures in the 30s and nothing but the sound of crickets from the local largemouth population.
Something tells me I'm not alone in my springtime misery as I nurse a case of the post-frontal bass fishing blues.
Which leads to the question of just exactly how does an angler attack bass fishing after a springtime cold front has made a welcome appearance?
For the answer to that question, let me defer to Major League Fishing champion Kelly Jordon, the only professional angler in history to win top-level tour events in Major League Fishing, the Bassmaster Elite Series circuit and on the FLW Tour.
And what is KJ's recipe for post-frontal bass fishing success?
"With a lot of patience," said Jordon, the popular Texas pro. "You can't make them bite if they don't want to bite."
Especially when the wind shifts around hard to the north and the barometer soars to sky-high blue-bird-day levels.
"This is the time of the year that is just notorious for fronts and the fish can change every day and what they're biting on can change every day," said Jordon.
Why the temperamental nature of springtime bass?
For one reason, Florida-strain largemouths are a bit finicky to begin with, especially when there is a new chill in the spring air.
And another reason is this is a major transitional time even without a meteorological curveball being thrown.
"They can move (around a lot) because this is a big transition phase as they move from deep water in transition to (springtime) spawning areas," said KJ, who won the Major League Fishing Challenge Cup in dramatic fashion over Gary Klein a few years ago on North Texas Lake Ray Roberts.
Jordon, who once guided on East Texas' legendary Lake Fork, says that he'll let the water's warmth – or lack thereof – dictate how he fishes for bass during these transitional periods of weather and spring breeding cycle movements.
"It depends on the water temperature," said Jordon, winner of four BASS events and one FLW Tour event. "If it's really cold, then I'd say fish super slow. If the water is in the mid-50s, I'd say that if you have grass present, sometimes the best thing to do is to throw a movement bait, especially something like a (Lucky Craft lipless crankbait)."
The reason is that an angler is trying to find a starting place, a point on the lake where a group of fish is located.
Once you locate a fish or two by fishing such a moving bait, then it's time to become somewhat methodical.
"Look for fish, try to find them and then once you do find them, maybe try some slower baits around them," said Jordon.
Alabama bass pro Randy Howell, the 2014 Bassmaster Classic champ and a regular MLF fishing contender, agrees with Jordon.
"You've got to just work those areas and figure out where they're at first," said Howell, a Livingston Lures pro-staffer. "Once you get a few bites somewhere on a certain lure, then you've got stay around those areas and keep working them a lot of times instead of moving around a lot."
If the weather is one thing that is in transition in late March and early April, then so too is the spawning cycle itself.
And KJ has a couple of tricks up his sleeve when dealing with largemouth bass being on the move from the pre-spawn phase of spring into the spawn.
"(One) of the keys, whatever lake you're on, (includes) defining what the key type of cover is that the fish prefer in that lake," said Jordon. "Whether it is grass, bushes, lay-down logs, stumps or rocks, every lake has its key (type of) cover."
Once Jordon has figured out what that is, the next thing he'll do is focus on seasonal patterns at hand.
"Next is knowing what part of the lake holds the better fish historically," he said. "Northern pockets are always going to be the first ones to turn on in any lake, the upper ends (of the lake) and the northern pockets, anywhere you go."
Once he's got such preferred spawning areas figured out, then KJ will examine his what his goal(s) are for the day.
"Key in on the type of fish that you're looking for," said Jordon. "If you're trying to catch a really big fish, I'd say slow down big time and throw big baits."
What about if an angler simply wants numbers, just like KJ and Howell would during an MLF event?
"Probably the best thing for (this) time of year for catching a lot of average fish is to fish a moving bait like a (Lucky Craft) lipless crankbait, a spinnerbait or a (shallow- to medium-running) crankbait and cover quite a bit of water."
Again, once a few fish are located, slow down by using a slower-moving bait and pick the area apart before moving on to the next.
In Jordon's mind, the truth of all of this is that while bass fishing may not be an easy affair after a cold front, it isn't all that complicated either.
"Determine the best cover, the best area and look for the transition areas," he said.
And then? Slow down and be patient!
"If you put (all of) that together, you're going to eliminate a lot of water and (that should) really help you," said Jordon. "(It should help you) pick it (a lake) apart a lot quicker and fish less water with more results."
Even after a springtime cold front has blown through and the wind is blustery and a bit chilly out of the north.