Pre- vs. Post-Frontal Fishing Conditions

Bass Jumping Out of WaterHere’s a good question I received while doing a seminar on fishing for spring bass: Which are better during the spring -- pre-frontal or post-frontal conditions?

Well, hands down, my answer is pre-frontal. During the spring -- as the water warms and bass start migrating toward the shallows to feed and then spawn -- is arguably the best time of year to catch not only the biggest fish of the year, but also the greatest numbers of fish.

In pre-frontal conditions, you will usually have a few days of a warming trend that will push the fish shallower to feed for the upcoming spawn. A couple of degrees of water temperature changes are a very valuable tool this time of year.

What I like to look for in this stage of a front is the northern pockets of the lake. They will warm faster with the prevailing southern winds, which will move the bait fish in with the bass right behind them. My favorite technique this time of year is chucking Cotton Cordell Super Spots and chatterbaits on flats next to deep water. Bass will pull up on these shallow flats and feed aggressively. Any type of wind, wood, weeds or rocks will enhance the areas you are fishing.

Now here come the post-frontal conditions. Bass will hold on flats next to some kind of cover during the passing of the front. Rainy and cloudy conditions are still a good time to catch the bass on the flats. As the front passes and the northern winds start to prevail, the water temps will drop. Here comes the dreaded “Bluebird Sky.”

Now, not all is lost. What happens now is that the bass move out to the nearest drop and tend to do one of two things: Some hunker down off the drop and try to bury themselves in cover, while the others pull off the drop and suspend. The good thing about this is if you find one, you’ve found a school of them.

There are two techniques I fall back on during these conditions. One is the tried-and-true jig and pig. I prefer a 3/8- or 1/2-oz. black and blue Bass Pro Shops Enticer jig with a Zoom Super Chunk Jr. I like to cut the skirt down and use the smaller trailer; downsizing is always a good option for inactive bass. Location is the key here; some kind of creek bend, ledge or point with deep water are great areas to search out the bass. When fishing the jig, move slow. Drag the jig only a few inches at a time and then let it set. Most bites will come when the jig is motionless. It might take up to 10 repeated casts to the same area to entice a bite.

The second technique I use is the suspending jerkbait. There is just something about a fish sitting motionless above a bass that they just can’t take. There are many types of jerkbaits on the market today, one being the Smithwick Rogue, which has been around for years and still keeps piling the fish in the boat. Fish these lures using 10- to 12-lb. fluorocarbon, Bass Pro Shops XPS Fluorocarbon, on a 7-foot medium action rod. Use a jerk, jerk, pause method: Let it set for up to a minute in one place, and then repeat. Change up the cadence -- the fish will tell you what they want.

Next time you are out on the water, whether in pre- or post-frontal conditions, give these techniques a try. It might just put an extra fish or two in the boat.

by Kary Ray