My take on dock fishing

I love to fish docks. They produce bass for me from the prespawn through the postspawn and right on through the summer months. Docks are a high priority for me regardless of where I’m competing in a tournament. It doesn’t matter if I’m fishing in the North, South, East or West, I’m sure to find bass under docks.

There is no single right way to fish a dock. I just know what works for me. And, I change tactics depending on what the bass are up to.

The first step to successful dock fishing is to determine where the bass are. Once you figure that out, you can concentrate on docks in those specific areas and bypass the rest of them. It doesn’t matter if the docks are floating or stationary. The bass will relate to whatever types of docks happen to be there.

When the bass are in their prespawn phase, I look in creeks for docks near channel swing banks and on secondary points. That’s where the bass will stop and stage before moving up to spawn.

There are many different ways to catch dock bass at this time. I have my best luck with baits I can leave in there awhile because the bass are not as active as they will be later. A jig, a shaky head and a weightless 5-inch Bizz Baits Sassy Stick sinking worm are my go-tos.

I cast the Sassy Stick and the shaky head on spinning tackle so I can skip them under the docks and walkways. A 7-foot, Medium Soul 7 ALX Ikos Series rod is perfect for this. I pair the rod with 15-pound P-Line Braid that I knot to a 10-pound P-Line Tactical Fluorocarbon leader.

Once the water warms enough for the bass to begin spawning, I target the last few docks I find way back in spawning pockets. A jig is still good. But there’s something about the slow-sinking Sassy Stick that bass can’t resist just before they spawn and when they are actually spawning. A weightless swimbait skipped under a dock and slowly swum out also works well.

A lot of people fish the outer edges of docks and boat slips and overlook the walkways. It takes extra effort to position your boat to fish a walkway properly, but it’s worth the trouble. A lot of big bass spawn there. The Sassy Stick is a killer bait under walkways.

As the bass transition into their postspawn phase, they begin feeding on shad, bluegill and other baitfish. The Sassy Stick, jig and shaky head will catch them, but this is when I really like to start using moving baits like spinnerbaits, white swim jigs and Flukes. A hard plastic 6-inch swimbait is another bait that gets bites for me.

I continue to target docks in the backs of creeks and pockets during the postspawn phase. When summer rolls around, I start looking more to deeper docks closer to the main lake in major creeks.

In summertime the bass use docks for shade as well as a source of food. Certain bass will live under a specific dock and never leave it. In the summer, you shouldn’t go back to docks where you caught a bass the day or two before in a tournament. It will be awhile before another bass takes up residence there.

When I’m competing in the summer, I fish new docks every day and hit as many of them as I can. That doesn’t mean I fish every dock I come to. It is still imperative that you find where the bass are and concentrate on docks in that area.

You can also pattern docks, which works well in any season. If you’re catching bass on, say, docks near a deep channel in a creek, run docks that fit that pattern and skip the rest.

Summer is when you need to cast or skip your baits into the darkest, hardest to reach shadows under a dock. Casting accuracy is paramount. Getting backlashes on your baitcasting reel is inevitable. That’s just part of it. I’d be lying if I said I never cussed a dock.

The shaky head and Sassy Stick work well in the summer, but I spend more time with a baitcaster in my hand, skipping jigs and other moving baits. A lot of people like to use a short casting rod for skipping jigs. ALX makes a 6-foot, 9-inch Zolo Skipper rod just for this tactic.

As good as that rod is, I prefer a 7-foot, 2-inch, ALX Zolo Series Toadface rod for skipping. That’s just what works for me. I rig it with 15- or 17-pound P-Line Tactical Fluorocarbon. You have to decide what rod length works best for you and roll with it.

Fishing docks can be frustrating at times, but with practice and patience it can be a very rewarding tactic.