big. Some are small. Some float. Some do not. They
come in many different sizes and shapes. Depth is an important
factor; but do not assume that a deep one is better than a
by Alan Paczkowski
If you think I am talking about baits then guess again. Give
up? Okay, what I am referring to are docks; the one predominant
man-made feature which is common to just about every lake or
Ideal cover. To a bass angler
docks represent an ideal form of cover. Why? Because they provide
overhead cover, shade, and structure. Even more importantly they
attract bluegills, crappies and other natural forage. Given those
attributes it would be unnatural for bass not to live around
them. So as not to confuse you; when I use the term docks I am
referring to the family of man-made structures which include
boatdocks, boathouses, and piers.
No doubt docks provide
excellent ambush sites for bass to operate from. Yet all docks do
not attract or hold bass. Why? Because all are not created equal!
The secret is...SHADE. Many hours
of on the water trial and error, have taught me that one factor
is predominant in selecting which man-made features attract and
hold bass better than others. That factor is SHADE. Little doubt,
shade is the key to locating bass around man-made features.
Simply put, good docks provide ample shade; poor docks offer
Additionally, prime docks for bass fishing lie close to the
water and cast dark shadows which give bass a distinct visibility
advantage over prey which swim by them in the unshaded water. I
have also found that the best docks extend from the shore to
depths of 4 to 6 feet; depths which are heavily used by bass
while feeding. Furthermore, docks which lie adjacent to weed
flats or weed lines tend to be more productive. Bass love to move
in from nearby weed-beds at prime times, usually around mid-day,
and use docks as a major part of their feeding ritual.
The ideal dock. Sure you say, but
with so many "ideal" docks to choose from, how does one
go about deciding which docks to fish and which one's not to
bother with. A valid question and one not easily answered since
even docks with similar characteristics do not always attract and
hold bass. So here are a few simple guidelines I use to help
identify what I believe are the docks with the most bass
- Docks with wood pilings are better than those with metal
- Fixed docks are better than floating docks in that they
provide both vertical and horizontal structure.
- Docks which are low to the water offer better overhead cover
than docks which are high off the water.
- Big docks are better than small docks.
- Irregular shaped docks ("T" or "L") are
better than symmetrical ones.
- Docks with tight decking are better than those with wide
cracks or openings in-between the decking.
- Lastly, docks located near weeds are usually better than
those located in clear areas, sand, or shallow vegetation.
Although the above characteristics hold true more often than
not, there are times when the least likely looking dock will
attract and hold good quantities of bass. Make no mistake about
it, dock fishing is a special technique which takes time, lots of
patience, experience, and practice to perfect. Sure anyone can
casually throw a bait next to a dock and occasionally catch a
bass. But those anglers who truly understand the bass catching
potential docks represent do not hesitate to invest the time and
effort to learn and fine-tune the "how to's" of dock
Suffice it to say, if dock fishing is not part of your
repertoire, it should be. Here are a few simple approaches you
can use to get started:
- Run the outside edges. Remember
that aggressive bass will be out on the outside edges of docks
poised and ready to give chase to unsuspecting forage. To catch
these bass, approach docks cautiously and throw a spinnerbait,
topwater bait, stickbait, or crankbait right along the dock edge;
especially on the shady side.
- Flip the pilings and corners. Less
aggressive bass present more of a challenge since they are
reluctant to give chase to forage (or your bait). To entice these
bass flipping is the preferred technique. With some practice you
will soon be able to place a jig or soft plastic bait with
pinpoint accuracy along dock pilings and in corners where bass
prefer to hold.
- Skip well under the dock. Lastly,
and probably one of the most effective ways to work docks is by
"skipping" lightly weighted worms, lizards, grubs,
flukes, or tube jigs well under a dock. I prefer a spinning
outfit when "skipping" since it is less likely to
back-lash and allows the bait to fall straight down when it
enters the water. Effective "skipping" requires a lot
of practice and patience. The cast must be flat and powerful
enough to "skip" your bait across the water several
times and achieve the required distance under the dock. I find a
slight upswing at the moment of release tends to help. Just like
learning to cleanly skip a rock across the water took time so
will learning to perfect this technique.
Those are the BASICS of dock fishing based on my many years of
professional experience. I hope you give the docks a try.
Till next time, have fun fishing, be safe and courteous on the
water, and please practice catch and release so we all can enjoy
bass fishing for many years to come.
Hi. Alan Paczkowski here. If you have any questions give me a
call. Better yet let's get together and put the basics of bass
know-how to the test out on beautiful Lake Gaston where I operate
a professional guide service. Just give me a call to
reserve your bass fishing date or to order a Gift Certificate for
the special bass angler in your life.
Give Alan a call at (252)
Visit Alan's web site at Alan's Guide Service
Email Alan at email@example.com