Lake Front property has become the way to “keep up with the Jones'”. Seems like everyone is in the hunt for lake front property, and why not as a bass fisherman I would be in heaven to live on a lake! Well with all these folks moving to the lake, that brings along with it a great opportunity to find bass, Boat Docks!
Boat docks are the perfect structure for bass; they provide shade (the platform), ambush points (all the pylons), and a travel route from deeper water to shallow water (walk ways). Docks will also sustain a food chain all by their selves; algae will grow on the structure, which is the beginning of any substantial food chain. Basically a bass could live on a dock year round and have everything they need.
Ok, So, bass live on docks, which ones? With the hundreds of docks on some of our lakes how do you know which ones to fish? Where to start? When I have determined that bass should be on docks. I look for a few different things as I am trying to find the next one that will hold fish.
First I take the given time of year and try to determine where the fish should be if the docks were not there. If it is spring, I will be looking for shallow flats or drop offs near possible spawning grounds on the North side of the lake or bays. Docks in these locations are great pre spawn staging points and then after the spawn a bass can pull back out to the deeper end of the dock and rest during the post spawn stage. If I am fishing in the summer time I like to find the deepest docks in the lake. Bass will use the length of the dock to move shallow and feed early and late but suspend in the deeper water during the day. In the summer a dock is more of a travel route. During the fall, I look for docks in the backs of major creek channels. Baitfish will be on the move to these areas and the bass will follow them and use the docks as cover along the way. And during the winter months I again look for the deepest docks I can find. Brush makes it Better.
Once I have found docks that fit my time of year, I start looking for the ones that the owners have put brush under. During low water conditions that can be easy to find. Keep an eye out for limbs sticking out of the water or ropes and wire that the owner might have used to tie the brush to the dock or pylons. When the lake is full, you may not be able to readily see this brush, but there are other clues you can watch for. Fishing lights attached to the dock are a very good indicator that the owner is a fisherman and any fisherman knows the value of having a good brush pile. When you pull up to a dock look at the docks surface or platform for hinges or cut away planks. This is an indication that the owner has put a brush pile under the dock and has created and access hole to be able to fish it. Another good indication that a dock might have a brush pile, is if you see hog or chicken wire around the outside edge, the owner is trying to keep boat fisherman out for a reason, but the wire will deteriorate and soon there will be holes large enough for you to get a bait threw. Lawn chairs and rod holders are an indication that the owners cast out from the dock to fish. If you see these things use your electronics or fan cast search baits in the direction of the pole holders. You just might find a brush pile out away from the dock! These types of brush piles are usually fished very little because boats travel over them and many fishermen never know they are there! And finally, at least here in Louisiana, dock owners that regularly fish from there docks will put up fish feeders, and if they have taken the time to bait the fish they more than likely have put out a couple brush piles to hold the fish there as well.
What’s it made of? Concrete docks or docks with concrete pylons will warm faster in the winter months from the suns heat, making them a great place for bass to stage in the very early pre spawn. Also, you will find bass sunning their selves near these heat magnets. Concrete is more porous than wood and will have more algae on it than wood dock, hence usually have a better food chain around them. Concrete docks are usually less common than wood ones and if you can get a pattern going with them you can really narrow your pattern down to some very specific areas. Now wood docks, are much more common and will be the material 90 percent of the dock in a given lake or made out of. They have their advantages. Wood docks will have a lot more structure supports on them, more pylons and more cross members, both make great ambush points. Because of the extra structure wood docks can hold more fish. Styrofoam or Floating docks, the big disadvantage with these docks is obviously there are no pylons or structure. But again there is an advantage! Usually these types of docks have a cable system from the edges to the bank, making it very difficult to fish them. Because of this difficulty, most anglers will avoid them like the plague; hence the fish around them are not near as pressured as the other docks.
So with some patience on your part you might have a completely untapped resource at your disposal. Another advantage is that they absorb noise very well and fish are less spooky around them. Next time you hit the water and you are looking at the hundreds of docks, take a few minutes and pay attention to where they are, what they are made of and look for the clues to find the brush piles, put all this together and you will find the bass.
Get the Net it’s a Hawg