Long gone are the days of iced over lakes and freezing temperatures. The spawn is long gone. Water temperatures are soaring up to 90 degrees in many places. The bass are either lethargic or the bite is as hot as the day with not much in between. Dog Day Dock Fishing…
Some of the most obvious targets for summer bassin’ are docks. More specifically, shallow docks. They get hammered day in and day out by weekend warriors, tournament pros, and novice anglers alike. Still, despite all this pressure, docks can still provide excellent action if you know how to fish them.
Not all docks are created equal. Some will always produce, some will never produce. During the summer, I prefer two kinds of docks; those that are over deep water, and those that have access to deep water. A dock that is in the middle of a never ending, two foot deep flat is probably not going to provide as much action as one sitting in 7-8 feet with a drop to 15 right in front. In the summer, deeper water provides more comfort as it is cooler. Couple this with the shade a dock provides and you have a match made in heaven! A dock with brush, vegetation, or chunk rock under or directly in front is prime territory for a big bass to hunker down around during the summer.
Another thing to consider is if the dock is a floating dock or if it is a fixed dock. A standard wooden dock is often more consistent, but with all the pilings and supports can make it difficult to pinpoint a spot were the fish are holding. Bass are not going to just be suspended under a dock most of the time. They will be relating to a certain part of the dock. It might be the cross supports or downstream side of the pilings, or it might be at the very back of the dock. Spotted bass seem to have a soft spot in their heart for a metal pole on a dock or ladder. Newer docks often do not hold fish, I believe because of the chemicals used in treated lumber.
On a floating dock, target the posts that keep the dock anchored and are used for the dock to slide on as the water rises and drops. Since they provide constant shade with no gaps, fish will often stack up on the bottom under the dock or right under the surface feeding on the bream and baitfish (who are in turn feeding on the algae on bottom of the dock). Skipping or flipping/pitching a bait into the gaps between floats can also be extremely productive.
In the early morning I like to start out with topwaters. Docks that have wood structure and are close to shallow water are a prime choice. I typically start with a Torpedo or Pop-R type bait and bring it parallel to every side of the dock I can. Cast the bait 10-20 feet past the dock and work it towards the dock as normal. The closer to the dock you can get, the better.
Once the sun gets up the bass usually move a little farther back under the dock. Jigs, Senko type baits, spinnerbaits, softplastics and even frogs (skipped WAY under the dock) are top choices. Jigs and texas rigged soft plastics I mainly pitch under the dock as far as I can, making sure my line hits the dock about a foot above the bait so it will make the bait go even farther under the dock. Senkos I texas rig and skip under the dock letting them drift with the current past the pilings down to the bottom. Frogs I also skip and work out slowly along with “beaver” style baits. When rigged with a pegged weight they skip great. Spinnerbaits are mainly worked parallel to the dock and also burned past the corner of the dock.
When the fish are not biting under the dock, move out. Often, mainly when under extreme pressure, fish will pull away from the dock and suspend or hug bottom in structure. Crankbaits are a good choice along with a carolina rig, jig and pig, and a texas rig. Work them all slow and methodically.
There is no sure-fire pattern that will always produce anytime, anywhere, under any conditions for any of the 3 main species of bass (Largemouth, Smallmouth, Spotted bass) but fishing a dock is about as close as it comes.