Going fishing when I can has given me insight I otherwise wouldn't have if I were a fair-weather fisherman.
Fishing on days with tough conditions has taught me a lot.
I learned cold fronts are not all the same.
Some are weaker. Others are stronger.
One particular trip stands out in my memory. I went fishing the day after a cold front hit:
The winds were weak and the water was pristine. I immediately smoked the trout first thing in the morning and this was in December.
These conditions happened because it was a weak cold front.
Judging Their Strength
The strength of cold fronts can be judged by the magnitude of temperature change and wind shift they bring. The wind shift is most important, as it will be wind that dirties the water.
Kicking a Dead Horse
Once I again I revisit the Shell Beach Buoy (click on the "Water Level" link to see conditions in graphical form).
Man, do I kick this thing to death!
I do so because it is such a valuable tool. I go in-depth on how to interpret the buoy's data in this article.
Anyways, check out this weak cold front from the first week of October this year.
So in essence this cold front barely shifted the winds to the north. In fact, it was so weak that it blew hard out of the northeast, pumping more water into the marsh, NOT draining water out like conventional thought typically dictates. (At least in Lake Borgne)
Keep this weak cold front in mind as I show you the next set of data.
This is the Mike Tyson of cold fronts I am looking for.
This thing drained the marsh and turned the winds around to a deadly northwest direction.
One can see how the "three-day rule" can be faithfully implemented here.
The Three Day Rule
This is a rule that one will not see good fishing conditions until three days after a cold front.
Experience has shown me this only applies to strong cold fronts.
Note the steady climb in air pressure and very sharp decline in water temperature. This is the strong cold front that pushes speckled trout inside the marsh for incredible fishing action during fall.
Understanding that each cold front is different (and my advice that you should fish conditions regardless) earns bonus points when you incorporate this information in your fishing reports.
In fact, I do with mine. I use screenshots like the ones above in most of my fishing reports.
One More Note
You can judge how strong a cold front will be before it hits by watching the NOAA Marine Forecast.
Check out my Fishing Trip Planning tab and you can see a detailed link for that resource.
You are looking for (you guessed it) strong changes in wind velocity.
Also, look at your weather forecast and if you don't see a drastic temperature change you can bet it is a weak cold front.