Whenever I’m asked about why I fish docks my answer is always the same: Docks are some of the most reliable places on any body of water to find bass. They’re somewhat shallow, provide cover and the algae and other stuff growing on them attracts baitfish. That’s as close to a perfect combination as you’re going to get. And, all of what I just said is good all year-round.
In my experience the best producing docks are the ones that sit on poles — wooden ones are the best. Bass will hang back under them in surprisingly shallow water, but they’ll also relate to the vertical poles and sometimes hang out in front of them.
Floating docks can be good, but they’re tough to fish. Bass have a tendency to suspend up high under them. Lure placement can be a man-size job.
My favorite depth is somewhere between 3 and 8 feet. That depth range is good pretty much all the time. That’s enough water for them to be able to move up or down but still stay in the same area. Sometimes, especially in the spring and fall, shallower water will produce but even then a little more water is usually better.
In the early spring, fall and winter I look for docks on the north side of the water. They get a little more sun so they’re usually a little warmer. During the spawn I target those way at the back end of coves or other protected areas. During the shad spawn, or any other baitfish spawn, I’m looking for docks that are close to rock of some kind.
I usually fish everything under and around a dock until I find out where the bass are holding at the time I’m fishing them. But, whatever pattern I discover I always keep in mind that it may not hold very long. It’s not unusual for bass to move around a dock during the day with the wind and the sun. I never leave a dock without checking everything out. You never know.
If I had to pick one lure for all of my dock fishing, it would be a Yamamoto, 5-inch Senko fished wacky style. That bait is pretty much universal. You can cast it, skip it, pitch it or flip it. And, a shaky head is good almost all the time.
Recently, however, I’ve been on the Neko rig bandwagon, and I have to say that I’m impressed with what I’m discovering. It’s a different kind of worm presentation that’s touted as a finesse approach. That’s right, I suppose, but it doesn’t catch finesse bass. I’ve been getting really nice keeper bass on it.
During the postspawn topwater lures will catch them, especially anything you can get back underneath them and bring out towards the front or the side. I especially like the Yo-Zuri 3DB Series Pencil. It’s heavy so it’ll cast a mile, and you can make a lot of noise with it if you want.
In the winter jerkbaits can be good, too, as well as jigs.
Changing lures is a must with docks. I’m not the only angler who knows they’re good places to fish. You can bet that every dock on every lake is pressured. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be successful fishing them if you take the right approach.
Check out some of the docks on your lake this year. It’ll make a difference in your catch.