THREE slip bobbers were dancing across big waves over a patch of weeds when one of them tipped sideways and then plummeted downward, out of sight in the blink of an eye.

It was one of those nasty cold fronts last weekend that all anglers seem to despise, for they can change patterns and shut down the bite for just about every species of fish.

But not all species.

When the northwest or northeast winds howl, the mercury drops and the whitecapped waves start crashing into a weed bar or weedy shoreline, it’s time to chase northern pike.

I was certain that is what screamed down the slip bobber that was suspending a golden shiner minnow over the weeds on an outing last weekend.

Only a few seconds passed before the scribbler took up the slack and set the hook rather aggressively, knowing that heavy weeds can make it difficult to get direct contact on a hookset. Fish on!

It took seconds to get that fish to the boat but more than a minute to get a net under it, because it took several good runs away from the boat and net. And that was just a 26-inch northern, not really a big one.

Because I was using 20-pound braid and a steel leader, there’s no chance of getting cut off. So there’s no reason to hold back on what I call the windmill hookset, which means, keep pulling over your head as far as it takes, until you are certain you’ve made direct contact.

Then you can back off, adjust a drag and enjoy the fight. And when you are using a walleye rod and reel, the fight of a big northern can be quite intense.

I’ve never heard a reasonable explanation on why, but for some reason northerns get really active during cold fronts. So I get out the right equipment and right bait, and target them.

Slip bobber rigs floated over weeds or along weed edges work best. But it is also effective to put a heavier jig on a steel leader, tip it with a large rainbow or redtailed chub, and flash the bait high over the weeds.

The beauty of this setup is feeling that initial northern hit on a direct line, with no bobber in the way. It is incredible how these big predator fish hit so hard that with a decent graphite rod, you feel it right in the palm of your hand.

Since my son Steve taught me about jerk baits and swim jigs, we’ve developed some steel leader systems that are light, strong and don’t kink on the first big fish you catch.

It even works to attach that leader material directly to an eighth-ounce jig. And if you want northern action, a tied jig with some red and yellow in the pattern is a real killer. Pink and white works as well.

I recall a cold front day years ago on the Three Lakes Chain, when Editor Gary Ridderbusch and I had planned a walleye outing. The weather sort of interrupted the plan, yet everywhere we went, the northerns were going crazy.

He had a tacklebox full of jigs with a red head and a yellow marabou tail that his dad had made over the years, often selling them commercially to sport shops. They were quarter-ounce jigs, a little heavy for what we needed, but we just pinched off some lead on the front side and created eighth-ounce jigs.

We cleaned up on northerns, flashing oversized chubs and dace minnows above the weeds. We lost quite a few jigs to those toothy critters because we didn’t have any steel leaders along, but it sure was fun.

Over the years, I’ve also discovered that walleyes don’t stop feeding just because a cold front moves in. They might not feed as aggressively, but we’ve caught a lot of nice walleyes on the same slip bobbers that we were using to target northerns.

The thing about cold fronts is that they really don’t have a major impact on fish during the first day, because the water temperatures take time to change.

Especially when there is wind and overcast skies associated with the cold front, you’ll find walleyes feeding in the same haunts as the day before the front moved in. Day two and day three of a cold front are a different story.

From the perspective of a walleye angler, the worst cold fronts are those that involve clear skies and lots of sunshine, but little wind. That makes for tough fishing conditions.

When that happens, I’m looking for a south-facing bay where the crappies might be staging to spawn. Or I’m suspending big minnows over weeds for northerns, because they’ll hit even when the lake is glass.

The point of this piece is, when Mother Nature throws you a lemon of a cold front, make lemonade. Switch up the gear and go for northern pike, which fight hard and taste great.

You’ve read this before here, but once you get past the slime and the bones, the flesh of a northern is some of the tastiest fish you will ever eat.

And it is also the most versatile when it comes to how it is prepared. You can deep-fry, pan-fry, bake, broil, pickle or boil it for poorman’s lobster. There is no wrong way to eat a northern.

I’ve got a new way of looking at cold fronts. They don’t ruin fishing. They just change up the game.