"Spring is a tough season for docks because the fish are in transition due to the spawn," Brauer says.
On a big reservoir like Lake of the Ozarks, Brauer claims the bass could be in the prespawn, spawn and postspawn mode simultaneously in different parts of the lake. For example, in one section of the lake you might need to fish for prespawn bass relating to docks over chunk rock bottoms that drop at a 45-degree angle.
Elsewhere, the bass may be near docks in the backs of spawning pockets that have pea gravel banks.
To determine what the bass are doing, Brauer starts at the mouth of a large cove and fishes the docks all the way to the back of the cove. He works each dock thoroughly from front to back. After he fishes two or three coves in this manner, the bass should tell him which section of docks to fish in other coves.
Brauer's workhorse bait in the spring is a 1/2-ounce jig, brown or green pumpkin in clear water and black and blue in dirty water. He stays with the jig until the bass start bedding. Then he switches to a tube and works it slowly through beds he can see, or, in dirty water, near the backs of docks where the beds should be.
"I'll also have a big topwater bait tied on, like a Zara Spook," Brauer says. A big female will often be just outside of a bed waiting to move up.
Many docks that yield bass to Brauer in the winter also produce for him in the summertime. In both seasons, bass like deep water under or near the dock, such as a creek channel drop, along with planted brush.
The bass are more active in the summertime and tend to hug the bottom, rather than suspend. Brauer goes down after them with the same jig he uses in the winter, but steps up from 3/8 to 1/2 ounce and often dresses the jig with Strike King's bigger Denny Brauer Magnum Chunk. His other primary summer dock fishing baits include a 10-inch worm and a 4 1/2-inch tube, both rigged with a 3/8-ounce sinker. He fishes these baits with a more aggressive hopping action than in the winter, and to depths of 30 feet on clear waters such as Lake of the Ozarks.