Change things up to improve fall fishing
After the weather experience of the last week, it is a good time to talk about fishing in cold front conditions. September is always a time of inconsistency when it comes to weather. This also makes for some of the most inconsistent fishing times of the year. It can be difficult to find a consistent pattern for fishing during this significant time of transition.
With these fronts we usually have to contend with high wind situations, which can make boat control a challenge. In the spring when we warm up to 40 degrees is seems that a sweatshirt is all you need. In the fall when it drops to 40 it feels cold and sweatshirts under jackets seems to be more the need.
The water temperatures have dropped 10 degrees in the last five days. These sudden drops combined with low pressure can turn the fish to a neutral to negative feeding mood. When they do get active during these fronts the feeding periods are usually shorter. The good news is that the weather and fish will stabilize by October and then the fishing can be awesome.
There are some adjustments you can make during a severe cold front situation that can bring a few more fish to the boat. The first adjustment is to downsize your bait. Smaller minnows, half a crawler, and smaller crank baits all seem to perform better under these circumstances.
Secondly, you will want to slow down your presentation. If jigging, dragging or slow twitching will typically be more productive than an aggressive jigging style. If live bait rigging, shorten your leaders and move slowly or hover over your fish. When casting baits, downsize and slow the retrieve. It can also be helpful to incorporate pauses into your cadence. For those fishermen that like to troll spinners or crank baits, you may find more success with dropping your speed slightly from your normal trolling speed. Adding turns and stalling baits can also trigger a reaction bite in a cold front fishing scenario.
You may find that "no pattern" becomes the pattern for some of your September fishing. Working at it by changing locations and trying different things can help you scrounge some fish during this challenging month. It can be very rewarding to get out during this time and catching fish when you know the bite is difficult.
Take more warm weather gear with you than you think you may need. Dress in layers and have rain gear on when traveling in the waves and the winds that September creates. Getting splashed and trying to dry off in the cold front wind is not fun. It is much more sensible to "gear up." You can always peel layers off to be comfortable. When the wind dies down and the sun is out, it gets warm again even in the cooler temps.
Don't let the challenges of September interfere with getting out fishing. Anyone can catch fish when they are really biting. You will improve as a fisherman by getting out and learning how to get them the conditions are tougher.
(Laabs runs Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)