Probably the most universal form of fishing cover found North to South and East to West are boat docks.
I’ve seen tournaments won all over the country by fishermen keying on docks. For example, at the 2004 FLW Championship at Lake Logan Martin in Alabama — the winner collected $500,000 by targeting bass under docks!
Learning how to catch bass near docks will allow you to catch bass just about anywhere you go. Here are a few tips that I have learned over the years I’ve spent dock fishing.
Fish Them After Cold Fronts
Key on docks after a cold front passes. When the skies clear after the passage of a cold front, docks are tough to beat. During the stormy, turbulent passage of the front, the bass are on the hunt for food and often stray from heavy cover. Some bass will remain under docks, but many disperse under the cloak of cloudy skies and wavy conditions. But when the skies clear, bass move back to the docks in strong numbers and hold there in good numbers for a couple days. I’ve had excellent success under these conditions throughout the year — even during the spawn. When nesting bass are driven from their nests during a cold front; often you can just fish the docks around these spawning areas and find the bass there.
Can Hold Many Fish
One dock can hold an entire school of fish! I’ve seen this on several occasions. Much of dock fishing can be limited to just picking off a fish here and there. But it is possible to encounter a single dock that can provide an entire limit of big bass! And it doesn’t have to be a really deep dock either. I’ve won tournaments thanks to finding one of these special treasures.
Best When Cover Is Limited
Docks are the best place to fish when other cover is limited. In lakes lacking aquatic vegetation or woody cover, docks are the only option available to the bass. I see this happen every year in my home state of Minnesota. Certain types of aquatic vegetation proliferate in May, June, July, and you’ll find the bass scattered around the lake in this cover. However, by the end of August, many of these weeds will have died and disappeared (most notable is a weed called curlyleaf pondweed). With these weeds gone, now the bass gang up under the docks, making it very easy to tap into some awesome fish! A lake offering just average fishing in June, can become unbelievably good later in the season.
Bottom is Important
Pay attention to the bottom around and under the dock. Bass can be choosy about their docks, and may prefer one type of bottom substratum to another. They may also prefer a certain depth to another. Don’t rule out really shallow docks either; especially post-spawn through early fall.
Zero in on Location
Try to determine their holding position on the dock. Often times, after catching a couple bass, you’ll realize that it’s the same part of each dock that keeps producing the bass. For example, I was fishing a reservoir in Alabama containing permanent docks where many of them had staircases leading from the bottom of the lake up to the top of the dock. These staircases produced almost all of my fish!
Precise Casting Key
Precision casts are a must! Good dock fishermen are good with their sticks. You’ll often have to get your lure into precise little spots to draw strikes. A lot of bass fishermen avoid dock fishing because they are not skilled enough to put the lure where it needs to be and may end up snagged all too often. Learning how to skip lures under the docks will multiply your catch several times over. This is often the only way to reach some bass.
These are just a few tips to help you with catching bass from docks. Like any other type of fishing, obviously you’ll get better at it with experience.
Shop Sportsman’s Guide NOW for a great selection of Fishing Gear!
Jim Moynagh writes a twice-monthly bass fishing column on sportsmansguide.com. Visit Jim on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sportsmansguide?v=app_6009294086&ref=ts#!/pages/Jim-Moynagh/167413610047622?fref=ts
Jim’s sponsors include All-Terrain Tackle, Ranger Boats and m-ywedge.