Making the Best of the Worst of Times - Fighting the effects of Pre Spawn cold fronts with subtle tubes
During happier February times, when the sun is high enough to warm shallow water, you could catch actively feeding, Pre Spawn bass on a big jig, spinnerbait or crankbait. But if your luck is anything like mine, you've seen your share of nasty February cold fronts blow through your area on a Friday night just in time to mess up your Saturday fishing trip.
So what's an angler to do? Just leave your reaction baits in the tackle box and turn to more subtle baits, like a tube a bait that will allow you to get right in front of the fish and coax that big-headed bass into feeding.
We're all well aware of the fish-catching power of a tube. It's a smaller bait that's easier to sneak into the bedroom of a bass that's waiting out a cold front. It doesn't move a lot and it doesn't cause a big commotion under water but it has the size and shape that will get a bass to eat.
Following these cold fronts, bass will be taking cover in a variety of places especially those that can provide a roof over their head. For some reason, bass love to get under something during these times. In a typical southern reservoir, that could mean under grass, a rocky ledge or a tree stump.
In northern lakes where the water is clearer and where the bottoms are rockier and their isn't a lot of submerged cover, bass will retreat to deeper water, using that deeper water as their roof. These days, I've switched completely to using the new PowerBait ® HollowBelly Tubes for all my tube techniques. It comes in two sizes a 4 and a 5 1/2-inch with a bevy of lifelike features. I used to put eyes on conventional tubes with a permanent marker.
The HollowBelly Tubes have those already as well as very realistic patterns that mimic the most common types of bass forage. And because it's a HollowBelly Tube made with PowerBait, the fish hang
on longer and the softer bait body leads to more positive hook ups.
In a typical southern reservoir, I will begin my search for bass in the backs of coves, secondary points, grass beds, boat docks anything that provides a roof.
For these areas, I will rig the Breen-colored 5 1/2-inch HollowBelly Tube Texas style on a 4/0 offset worm hook with a 1/4-ounce tungsten slip sinker.
If I am punching through heavy grass, I will upsize the sinker weight. Then I'll tie it to 15- or 17-pound Trilene ® 100% Fluorocarbon line spooled on a high-speed (7.1:1) Abu Garcia ® REVO ® STX mounted on a 7-foot, 6-inch Fenwick ® Elite Tech Flippin' Stik.
I position the boat 25-30 feet from the target areas just close enough that I can make an accurate pitch. I don't want a lot of splash or disturbance in the water when the bait lands and accuracy is key. I let the bait fall to the bottom, and if there are no strikes I will hop the bait on the bottom a few times and reel it back in and recast.
The high-speed reel helps me save time when making so many casts. You have to really cover these areas thoroughly, because the cold weather will make these bass unlikely to chase a bait, so you really have to get it right where they live.
In northern or upland fisheries where there isn't much cover in the water, bass will retreat to deeper confines after a cold front. To target these fish, I will use the smaller (4-inch) HollowBelly Tube rigged with an open hook on a 1/8- or 3/16-ounce tube head that has a 2/0 or 3/0 light-wire hook (the deeper the water, the heavier the tube head).
Using the bluegill pattern tube tied to 8- or 10-pound Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon line spooled on an Abu Garcia Soron reel that's mounted on a Fenwick Elite Tech Shaky Stik, I will target deeper pockets of water surrounding secondary points and rock banks. For this application, I cast the bait into these deeper areas (10 feet deep or more), letting the tube head spiral the bait toward the bottom.
If the bait lands without a strike, I will hop the tube and retrieve. I am using this bait to target these specific areas, not to cover water, so I don't want to drag the tube.
Fish get cranky after a cold front especially the really cold ones in February. Make your presentation subtle with a tube and put the bait right in front of these opportunistic feeders and you can spend a cold day boating big bass after big bass.