By Capt. Pete Rapps
Since we have recently experienced our first cold front of the fall season here in SW Florida, I thought it would be appropriate to explain how cold fronts affect our local fishing patterns.
Mother Nature has programmed into a fishes head that it’s time to hunker down and find shelter when the barometric pressure builds. They come equipped with what is described as a “lateral line”. You can see the line running down the side of just about every fish. This line is in fact a sensing organ. …… a barometer of sorts, that fish use to sense changes in pressure. Typically, fish will go into a feeding pattern at the first sign of change. They are stocking up on food because Mother Nature tells them that they will be in the path of some sort of change in weather that will keep them from feeding for a period of time. And right on cue, as the front hits, the fish will stop feeding as they hunker down and safely wait out the front. When the fish do this, us anglers describe it as “lock Jaw”.
Typically during a cold front, we not onlyexperience the obvious cold, but increased winds that stir up sand and mud off the bottom. This dirty water is what really makes fishing difficult. Sight fishing is near impossible in muddy water. Fish still feed with scent, but when you cut out their ability to see what you are presenting them, you reduce your chances dramatically.
Now is a good time to stay at the dock and work on that maintenance list that you have been meaning to get to. It is generally good working weather for oiling reels, replacing old line, sharpening your plug hooks, organizing your tackle boxes, and paying some attention to whatever else has been bothering you with your gear last time you went out. Really…. It’s what I do on not so perfect fishing days!
So after the front that brought 40 degree temperatures and 22 mph wind passes, and it turns 80 degrees and beautiful out again, you are typically still presented with a challenge for the next couple of days. It takes that long for the mud and sand to settle and the water clarity to return. By then, the fish are good and hungry, and fishing is back to normal.