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 reservoir.
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.
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 little shade.
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 "catching" potential:
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 fishing.
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:
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.
By: Alan Paczkowski