Whether it is a lake or river, there is a common piece of fish holding cover that lines the shorelines…yes, boat docks. These man-made fish holding creations offer bass many things, which is why bass in habit them frequently. Most bass anglers have targeted bass underneath or around these structures, but there are some boat dock myths and tricks I can share with you.
Many times an angler fishing boat docks will cruise by the front side of the docks and make casts to the openings most accessible, sometimes they will slow down and fish the sides of that dock. One area that should always be fished on a boat dock is the area located directly beneath the walk way of the dock.
The reason for this is that this area doesn’t get targeted by anglers as frequently as the other areas of the dock, thus resulting in less pressured bass. These areas are also productive for holding bass because the surface area located above the bass’s head is greatest, providing them a great deal of shade, giving them cooler water temperatures and prime opportunities to ambush its prey.
To fish these walk way areas you’ll need to rely on your equipment heavily to not disrupt those bass, along with not disturbing the lake owner’s property. I will keep my Minn Kota Ultrex trolling motor on a low speed to sneak up on the bass and keep me in complete control of my boat, then once I’m within good casting distance and have the angle I want, I’ll deploy my dual Minn Kota Talon’s. By doing this my boat will stay in one spot, allowing me to focus on making precise casts and keeping my boat from coming in contact with the boat docks surrounding me.
The water depth around and underneath a boat dock plays a huge role if bass will inhabit a boat dock and yes, many times boat docks that have deeper water under them are usually more productive than docks with little to no water underneath them. But this isn’t always true, sometimes bass only need a mere inches of water to live and with the overhead cover a boat dock provides, shallow water underneath boat docks isn’t a bad thing.
If you do determine that bass are using boat docks that are located in shallow water, you want to use a presentation that makes minimal disturbance as it enters the water. To me this is when a wacky rigged stick bait is a great option, which I’ll skip on a 1/0 or 2/0 Eagle Claw TroKar TK137 Pro-V Bend Finesse Hook.
Anglers need to understand that revisiting a productive dock run or single dock throughout the day isn’t a bad idea. This is because if a dock is holding bass, there is a reason for that and bass will repopulate under that dock, or the other bass that were under that dock when you caught your initial bass there got spooked off when you caught that one and lastly depending on the time of day, bass will use docks more or less depending on the sunlight, water temperatures and boat traffic on that lake.
To aid in the ability to better skip your jig underneath a boat dock and get it way back there, you need to select a jig that has a flat spot on its head. Another item that will eliminate the drag your lure has on the water and increasing the distance you can put it underneath the dock is to use a smaller size trailer that has few appendages.
My go to dock fishing jig is a 3/8 oz Skip-N’ Jig from All-Terrain Tackle, either black/blue or green pumpkin with a small plastic trailer. What I like about this jig is that its head design lets the jig skip across the water’s surface easily and slide way up underneath a boat dock.
The majority of the time when I’m fishing boat docks, I’m flipping a jig, so I have a set up just for that as it allows me to make accurate flips and skips into the openings of the dock. But equally as important is the rods ability to detect a light bite from a bass and then get a solid hook into the bass’s mouth, followed by turning their head so they don’t have the ability to wrap themselves around the dock poles or supports.
For me the rod I use is the Witch Doctor Tackle Shaman (SII610HX) 6’10” Extra Fast Action/Heavy Power rod to get the job done. I pair this rod with a Wright & McGill Victory II high speed reel, spooled up with Seaguar TATSU Fluorocarbon 15 lb test.
Besides targeting bass underneath the boat docks with a soft plastic stickbait or a jig, many times bass will be positioned with their head right on the edge of the dock or shade casted down on the water from the dock, just waiting to ambush an unsuspecting meal.
Some productive ways to target these bass include with moving baits that mimic the food bass are feeding around the docks and many times this is bluegill or small baitfish. Early in the morning or late in the day is prime time to retrieve a walk-the-dog plug or buzzbait parallel to the dock’s perimeter, as a big bass will explode on it thinking it’s a distressed bluegill on the water’s surface. Now just because it is high noon doesn’t mean you need to put down that topwater, as if there is a good amount of shade along that dock, a topwater bite is still a good possibility! I like to go with a buzzbait if there are overhanging trees located around the docks as I can skip a 3/8 oz War Eagle Buzz Toad with ease since it has a soft plastic frog on the back of it.
As summer approaches the time to chase bass under and around boat docks is upon bass anglers, so be sure to scout them out using your electronics and mapping chip, so you can identify the docks with deeper water on them. For me relying on my Humminbird HELIX units and LakeMaster mapping chip is just as important dock fishing, as it is when I’m fishing offshore!
To follow Glenn throughout the season or for more helpful information check out glennwalkerfishing.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/glennwalkerfishing.