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Finding a Fall Fishing Day

Fall Weather can Play Havoc with our Fishing


Photo © Ron Brooks

Fall Fishing for Sheepshead

Photo © Ron Brooks

Weather Changes

Fall weather can be good one day and bad the next. For fishermen, that means picking the right day to head out. Some of us can’t pick and choose any day, so we end up taking what we can get. But if you can pick your day, pick it wisely.

Winds in the fall are constantly shifting in a clockwise direction as fronts come and go. A prevailing southeast wind will shift to south and southwest as a cold front approaches. Then it will shift o west and northwest as the front passes. After the front passes, the wind will usually pick up and blow hard out of the northeast.

Finding the right day to fish from a weather standpoint means catching a day between the fronts. That’s when the winds will shift back to the normal prevailing direction, in the case of the east coast of the US that means southeast.

Tide Times

Tides change in a predictable timeframe. Depending on your location, that can be anywhere from four to up to seven hours between high and low tide. In my area, it is roughly every six and a half hours. If the tide is high today at noon, it will be high again tomorrow about an hour later.

There are numerous tide prediction sites on the web that can provide you with tides up to a year in advance. I use them, but I also pay attention to what I actually find, add an hour and know what the tides will be tomorrow.

Tides are important in my fishing world. I have areas that I fish only on an incoming tide, because the fish only feed there on that tides, and areas I fish only on an outgoing tide for the same reason. I need the right tide and the right day.

Cold Front Passage

One particular piece of weather is more important to fishing than almost any other. That one thing is a cold front passage. Cold fronts are preceded by a low pressure area and followed immediately by high pressure. The lateral line on a fish is what senses pressure changes, and when the pressure starts to drop ahead of a cold front, the fish will normally be feeding. After the front passes and high pressure sets in, the fish normally turn off. Of course there are exceptions to everything, but normally you just don’t catch many fish on the backside of a cold front in all that high pressure.

Biologist have told me that fish feed on a falling barometer because that fall usually means wind and disturbed water is coming. They don’t feed on that high barometer because they are all full from feeding ahead of the front. Whatever the reason, high and low pressure play a big part in the success or lack thereof in fishing.

The bottom line here is to find the right weather, on the right tide on a day that just precedes a cold front. There aren’t many days like that in the fall, but that three way combination can turn out to be one of the best fishing days of the year.

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