You have done your homework and everything you have researched has told you that there is a strong largemouth bass dock bite going on this new lake you are fishing. You launch the boat to find there are 100’s and 100’s of docks to choose from? Where do you start?
You have done your homework and everything you have researched has told you that there is a strong largemouth bass dock bite going on this new lake you are fishing. You launch the boat to find there are 100’s and 100’s of docks to choose from? Where do you start? Don’t feel alone this is a feeling that has plagued all bass fisherman from time to time. I want to give you some simple pointers that will make your day on the water a little less stressful when picking which docks to fish and how to fish them.
First, get out the map and look for structure features that you would fish without the docks there. Look for places the channel swings in close to the shore. Drainage ditches intersecting deep water close to shore. Bends and swings in the creek channels. These are the places you want to start looking.
When you pull up to the bank you think should be holding fish, look for wooden docks. They will usually be the most prolific. Look for docks with rod holders and lights down on the water, trap doors and small rope hanging in the water. These are the most likely docks to be baited with brush. There may be other docks in the area that hold fish but this will greatly reduce the number of docks you are trying to fish.
Docks are a bass gold mine. There are edges everywhere and bass live on edges. Each row of pilings is an edge, every corner and even each piling has its own edge. Then there is cover. The dock itself is cover and a lot of dock will have years of brush piles lying around the perimeter.
OK, now you have selected your most likely docks to hold fish. So how do you approach and actually fishing them? It can be a difficult thing to make a one approach fit all, but while the baits will change the fundamentals will stay the same. First, fish the edges with a power fishing technique, such as spinnerbaits or crankbaits. This will allow you to pick off the aggressive fish. Then skip a fluke minnow or senko type bait under the walkways, floors, boat cradles and any where else there is shade. Then pull out the texas rigged soft plastics or jigs and probe the dock for brush piles. When you have the brush piles located, make multiple casts to them. Pay particular attention to swim ladders as they will often provide the only horizontal structure on the dock. Also fish the back 30% of the dock very well because most average anglers will only hit the front 50% before moving on.
I try to avoid floating docks if I have a choice, but on some lakes this is all you will find. In the late spring docks floating on Styrofoam can be a fish magnet because shad love to spawn on the Styrofoam. Again you want to work all the edges. During the shad spawn I tend to use a spinnerbait and vibrashock a lot around floating docks. You want to have your bait just ticking the edge of the Styrofoam. Fishing under the dock is a little bit different but there are a few ways to do it effectively. My favorite way is to texas rig a fat IKA weightless and upside down with the shaggy end up. Pitch it up to the edge of the dock and it will fall away from you and glide deep under the dock. Another way to get under the edges of a Floating dock is to tune your crank baits to run far left or right. Make long cast parallel to the edges of the dock and let it swim up under the edge.
This should get you well on your way to figuring out docks. But keep in mind these are just basic methods and you will have to fine tune them to your situation on the water.
See you on the water!