The sun warms my face as my eyes narrow to focus on my sighter. With a temperature in the fifties, I was hoping for a midge or blue winged olive hatch. No such luck. Thankfully, a few willing takers for pheasant tail nymphs made it to my net. As the sun ascended, a cold breeze made me wish I had worn another layer. I fished for another thirty minutes, until I interpreted a wicked tangle and increased bursts of wind as a sign to call it a day. A cold front was coming. 

Morning Glare

Common adages are exactly that in fly fishing. Here are a few examples.

  • Fishing is best the last warm day before a cold front.
  • Immediately after a light storm fishing can be great.
  • Fishing is best at twilight.
  • Large fish only feed at night.
  • Cloudy days are best for trout fishing.
  • Large fish only eat other fish.

Adages are defined as old sayings that have obtained credit by long use. They can be repeated observations, rules of “thumb” or sayings repeated until they are taken as fact. How many have you heard? Are they true?

A Beautiful Day

I have repeated adages and nod along as others have said them. With my time on the river, I observe and try to stack what I learn into actions and strategies to improve my fishing. But I lack confidence to be certain about any of the old adages. I trust others who have spent many hours on the water and I’m typically open to advice. But I’ve had good days fishing and slow days fishing in all sorts of weather and light conditions. My preference for fishing in cold and rainy water is primarily due to less anglers being on the water at those times.

Numerous books and podcasts weigh in on the topics described in adages. In Gary Borger’s book Presentation, he states barometric pressure changes have not created observed changes in fishing conditions, refuting the claim that cold fronts can stymie feeding fish. A recent Troutbitten blog describes methods to improve fishing in dirty or turbid water but stresses the difficulty in fishing in muddy water. Most of the writings are suggestions based on the author’s time on the water and not on scientific studies or empirical data.  

Conflicting information is seemingly a way of life now. Changing a channel on a television can show you opposite viewpoints on the same exact situation. Opinions on fly fishing tactics can be as polarizing as politics. However, simple sayings that sound like metaphors can be accepted by most. Why is that? 

Philosophically, I believe anglers are looking to simplify the complications of fishing and they want to sound like they know something, even when they do not. We are looking for reasons that back up our experiences or ideas. When a repeated saying is close to matching my observations, it feels validating. 

Advice and instruction from thoughtful anglers who spend many hours fishing over different seasons and many years can help advance any anglers’ knowledge and skill. Sometimes those lessons can boil down to a simple talking point. Sometimes, those talking points disregard the intricacy of a situation that could be limiting for making new discoveries. Trust the adages, or test them, or maybe just get out on the river and fish.

Keep Mending…

One Reply to “A Cold Front Coming – Does it Mean Anything?”

  1. Yes, just get out there when you can!
    Are there any sayings that refer to the phases of the moon?
    Farmers are famous for those!

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