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Dock Fishing 101
you are fishing new water or your favorite waters, it is always worth
spending a little time hunting for bass around docks. With the rate of
development on our lakes and rivers these days, it is hard to go
anywhere without a few docks that are worth fishing. But, this does
not mean that all docks are created equally. There are many factors
that will influence how good a dock can be. In this article I will
discuss a few of these factors, as well as how I like to attack docks
on the waters I fish.
Anatomy of Docks
What makes a dock worth fishing? I have found that there are a few
things that all of the best docks have a few of the following things
in common. These factors may change due to the body of water you are
fishing, and the time of the year, so make sure that while you are
looking at different docks, you still must pay attention to what the
fish are trying to tell you.
One of the first things to look for when locating docks to fish is
their relation to deeper water. Docks that are in, or right next to
deeper water will give bass a place to escape to if there is a drastic
weather change, or another stressor. Docks will many times give you
clues to how drastic the depth change is in relation to the shore.
This can be seen when you have some docks that are much longer than
others. Most docks are constructed to give the homeowner better access
to deep water for use of their boats and swimming activities. When
there is a shallow flat, the docks will tend to be longer and may
indicate that this stretch of water may have vegetation on the inner
stretches of the dock.
I said before, there are times when fish will not always follow set
guidelines, cold water periods and the spawn are such times when you
may want to probe the shallows around docks more carefully. Bass are
drawn to these shallower areas due to the warmer water and sunlight
that their young will need to survive.
One thing that will drastically improve the quality of a dock is if
there is additional cover such as weeds, rock, or wood around. By
having additional types of cover, it gives more ambush points for the
bass, and will draw in prey to that area. Don’t just rely on the
visible cover, many times there will be additional cover located out
of view from the recreational fisherman that may be a major factor in
holding fish to a particular dock. Whether it is natural structure
such as submerged weeds, a rock pile/bar, or a man-made structure such
as tires, old trees, or other garbage that has been discarded into the
lake. These man made attractors can sometime be given away by the
appearance of the property the pier is located on. If it is in
disarray, it may mean that there could be additional objects in the
water. If the property owner has garbage/junk on land, it will many
times find its way into the water.
This factor can really be a big factor in which docks you will
concentrate on. I have found that by really keying on a dock
construction, you can more, or less, predetermine where fish will be
are a couple of major features that I like to focus on when I am
dissection a new dock. The first is what material the dock is made of.
I have found over the years the best material for holding bass would
be wood. An added bonus to this would be if there is any carpet lining
the edge of the dock. Many times carpet is used as a bumper for
protecting boats at the dock’s edge. The reason these two materials
are attractive to bass is because algae and other microscopic
organisms can easily adhere the surface of these materials. These
microbes then feed the small aquatic animals that the bass themselves
feed on. Metal is the other material that many docks are made of.
Metal will still hold fish, but tend to not have as much algae growing
on the support pilings.
major factor while looking at docks is the distance they are located
above the water level. Docks that are constructed close to the
water’s surface offer two major things to bass. The first benefit of
a low dock is that it offers more protection from the sun. The higher
it is, the less protection from the sun there will be. The other major
benefit that low docks offer is protection from the average fisherman.
The lower docks offer less of a target for the less accurate
fisherman. Many of these low docks are more, or less “protected”
To Fish Docks
I like to fish docks in a progression. I will usually start by trying
to provoke a reaction strike around the edges of the docks looking for
more active fish. After working those types of lures, I will slow down
and really work each dock over to locate the less active fish, always
paying attention to were each fish is relating to a particular portion
of the dock. What follows are some of the different tactics that I
will employ on the docks that I encounter.
The first thing I will tend to throw around docks is a swim jig. I
prefer to throw one of the Brovarney Baits in the 1/4 ounce. I like to
throw their bluegill patterns, such as Blue Devil and BC’s Gil, in
the spring as well as craw patterns if there is a strong crawfish
forage base. In the late summer, through the fall, I will switch more
to the shad patterns such as Brovarney’s Gringo color, or my
personal favorite Glory. I will mainly work these jigs around the
edges of the docks as I stated before, but may work it in a little
closer to the docks and even under, if I feel that is the best way to
draw the bass out.
After I work the perimeter of the docks I will come back around and
switch to a flipping technique. For this I will use one of the
following lures: Brovarney’s Thumper line of jig, or their ball head
jigs. I prefer these two jigs to other lines because they are hand
tied and this allows me to make modifications to the jigs and I will
not loose strands due to the common rubber bands that are used to hold
the skirts on other brands of jigs. When flipping, I will work each
dock pole while keeping mental notes to see where the fish are
positioning themselves on the docks. I tend to use heavier tackle for
this presentation because I am working around “heavier cover”.
I am not flipping jigs to docks, I will work them with salt series
tubes by Venom Lures. These tubes are enhanced with Mega Strike fish
attractant, which I feel gives me an advantage over ordinary salt
impregnated tubes. Depending on the conditions, I will also dip the
tubes in a dye, like spike-it to give the tube a little extra flare.
When conditions call for it, I will downsize and slow down. For this
type of fishing, I have a couple of favorites. The first would be
rigging a 4” creature bait onto a Venom super do jig head. I have
found this to work very well for skipping docks. The weed guard is an
added benefit if there are weeds, or any submerged wood around the
docks. A 4” ringworm will also work well for this presentation.
the fish are in a negative mood, I will skip a salty sling, made by
Venom lures under the docks. At times like this, I will dead stick
these baits. For both of these presentations, I will use a 6’6”
Med Heavy rod with 8-10 pound test line depending on the conditions.
Final Thought on Fishing Docks
While you are venturing into the world of dock fishing, I hope that
you are able to use some of this information. I would encourage you to
remember to pay attention to what the fish are telling you. Although
these suggestions may work most of the time, bass like anything, will
adjust to what the environment is doing, and that includes fishing
pressure and other human activities.
feel free to take a look at any of the lures I have mentioned at the
you have any questions on this article, please feel free to contact me
using a pm through his sight.
Tight Lines and God bless
Future Bass Pro Staff
Brovarney Baits Pro Staff