"Then I'd barely move the bait 3 to 5 inches and let it sit again," Brauer says. "About five seconds after that a bass would eat it, and I'd see the line pop."
At that event, Brauer's line popped to the tune of 83 pounds of bass. The super-slow jerkbait presentation is just one of many dock fishing methods Brauer taught himself at Lake of the Ozarks and applied to other waters.
Brauer explains that the key to dock fishing in any season is to concentrate on where the bass would be if there were no docks. Yes, big docks that provide abundant shade are more appealing to bass than smaller docks, but what's under a dock is more important than the dock itself.
In the winter, Brauer focuses on docks along steep bluff banks. These can be on the main lake or in deep creeks. A dock that has at least 20 feet of water beneath it can hold bass during the coldest months. Planted brush near or under such a dock is a big plus.
If the water is 48 degrees or colder and has at least 2 feet of visibility, Brauer opts for a suspending jerkbait in a shad pattern, such as clown or chrome with a blue or black back. He fishes painfully slow, as at Guntersville, because he wants the jerkbait to mimic a dying shad.
"You have shad die-offs when the water temperature drops to the mid 40s," Brauer says. "The bass suspend five to 10 feet below the docks and feed on the dying baitfish."
By working a jerkbait like a listless shad near death, Brauer consistently catches big bass during the winter from boat docks. He fishes the jerkbait on 10- or 12-pound fluorocarbon line. The line sinks, which gets the jerkbait deeper, and its low visibility doesn't put off bass in clear water.
When he thinks wintertime bass are hanging deep or around brushpiles, Brauer bumps the bottom with a 3/8-ounce brown or green pumpkin Strike King Pro-Model Jig. He dresses the jig with a Strike King Denny Brauer Chunk and fishes the bait in slow motion.
"The jig works well on sunny days when the bass are holding in the shady areas under a dock," he says.
An advantage in winter dock fishing is that you often can catch more than one bass from one location. For example, during the Guntersville tournament, one dock produced at least two big bass for Brauer on all four days of the tournament. He hit the dock three times each day, and it gave up bass on almost every visit.
"It's not unusual for a big dock to hold a lot of fish in the winter and summer," Brauer says. "But that normally doesn't happen in the spring and fall because the bass are more spread out then."