Downsize when cold fronts move in
Last week we talked about late fall season adjustments that included focusing mostly on jigging or rigging. One obvious adjustment we have to be aware of is the frequency of cold front conditions as the weather transitions toward our winter period. We can get a cold front on top of cold front, and the fish do change to a more neutral to negative attitude with feeding. Overall they "bulk up" for winter, but the cold fronts may slow feeding down or make the bite window a little shorter.
One suggestion for the cold front situation is to downsize your bait or minnow size. If jigging, you may want to try a slow lift and drop or even just drag the jig on the bottom. If live bait rigging, downsize your minnow, shorten up your leader length (even as short as 18"), tail hook the minnow instead of "nose" hooking them, and move slowly over the top of your fish. This is sometimes a good time to even anchor if you know you are on them. With jig fishing in the cold front, you may have to pause briefly as you feel the "pulse" of the bite, keeping only light pressure on the fish before your hook set. With rig fishing, you want to drop line to the fish as soon as you detect what might be a bite, give them a bit more time than you normally would, tighten your slack line slowly and set the hook when you feel the life of the fish on the business end of your rig.
Historically, we have had about three more weeks of open water before we get some skim ice. The fish you are locating now should hold to the pattern you are working through first ice. Make sure you drop a GPS coordinate or an icon on your spot so you can return to your fish. This also will be helpful for staying on your fish after we get ice. I will share some considerations about GPS coordinates and icons. My GPS has 2,000 waypoint memory. I am fortunate to get to fish many of the area lakes, many of the best walleye waters the state has to offer, as well as some of the best waters the Midwest has to offer. I have many waypoints, and my waypoint management started to get complicated.
One thing I started to do several years ago was to drop icons as well as coordinates. I use the heart, blue, green and red crosses, and anchor icons as I can easily spot them. I use them for different references for me, such as; one icon means a good area, not just a spot on a spot. Another icon tends to be a good fall location, another is a good anchor spot, and yet another is easy for me to spot as a good ice fishing location. I have found this to be useful for me, as I tend to like to keep things simple for myself. We will talk more about other considerations for waypoint management in another article. Get out and enjoy the solitude of the lakes at this time of year.