|Finding bass on any given lake can often be a challenging task. With so
many places to occupy in a body of water, anglers may spend more time looking for fish
than actually fishing for them. Dock fishing is a sure-fire tactic to locate fish that can
produce bass of braggin' proportions. Knowing which are the best docks to look
for and what to throw under them will be the only knowledge necessary to prosper on these
man-made structures. Give docks a try this year and capitalize on these lunker bass
This Dock or That?
Searching out productive looking docks that attract bass is the most
important key to dock success. Docks are not created equally, although there are certain
characteristics that will create an ideal habitat and lure fish in. The most important
factor is lead-in cover. Finding a dock with weeds leading up to it, or surrounding it in
some way, will create an optimum ambush point, cover and safety. Floating weeds that have
blown into the dock are also a tremendous asset as they cut down on light penetration and
attract bait fish - which in turn attract hungry bass. My most consistent area that I
concentrate on are docks with a sand/weed bottom, with a mixture of wood and weeds in and
around the dock itself. Find an area like this and get ready for superb action.
Another consideration when searching for docks is the material they are
made of. Wooden docks that are old and weathered are the number one choice as these are as
close to a "natural" structure that bass will find. Docks in this state will
usually have a build-up of algae on them, which is extremely attractive to plankton and
small organisms, which in turn will draw the baitfish and bass in. Look for docks of this
kind as low to the waters surface as possible as they will be your best bet. Metal and
aluminum docks may hold fish on occasion but will not be as consistent at holding bass as
a wooden one will. If there is a boat tied up to the dock, all the more better, as this
will provide an added area for largemouth to congregate under and will offer more shade
and security for the light-sensitive bass.
When To Hit Them
Knowing when to fish docks is quite a simple formula for the angler. I
usually turn to docks during periods of bright sunlight and hot temperatures. In most
instances, a quick check of docks around 11 am is a good starting point - if the fish are
present then you are on the right pattern. If the action is slow under these prime
conditions then the fish are probably in a transition mode and your best bet is to try
back in an hours time to see if they have moved up by then. Docks are an easy and quick
structure to check for action - finding, or not finding fish, will often clue you in to
where they will be.
Another prime time to fish docks is during cold front conditions, or
when the bass are inactive. During these days that a fisherman dreads, fish will push
tight into docks and stay stationary. Repeated casts with precise presentations will
trigger these sluggish fish to hit.
Boat control will also be key to fishing docks. Use the wind to your
advantage and slowly drift up to docks, paying careful attention not to bump into them. I
try not to use the electric motor too much if I am close to the structure as I have found
that the noise and vibration will spook these shy fish. If you must use your electric,
make sure it is on the lowest setting you can get by with. Casting a shadow across the
area you intend to fish should be avoided, as should making loud noises or clattering
around in the boat.
Tools of the Trade
Flipping gear is the route to go for most dock situations. Use stout rods
and heavy lines in order to horse the fish out of this heavy cover quickly. The one time I
scale down my equipment is under severe cold fronts. During these tough times I prefer to
use spinning gear with light line to trigger these negative fish.
The baits to use for docks are universal and common. My preference
is to throw flipping jigs, lizards or tubes for most applications. If the fish are
aggressive then I choose heavier baits with a faster drop and lighten up for the more
finicky fish. Small twister tails and grubs have been my "go to" bait for
severely inactive fish for the past few years.
Try knocking on docks this year for big old bass. The technique is simple
and the fish are plentiful - what better way to put a smile on an anglers face?