Dock Fishing 101
By Richard Sims
Over the years I have fished virtually every type of bass structure imaginable-weeds, rocks, logs, and brush. There's one similarity between all of those-they're all natural structure. As fun as these are to fish, and as much bass as they hold, I missed out possibly my favorite type of bass-holding structure, and it didn't fall into the water because of weather. This, of course, is man-made wooden docks. But some docks aren't productive, and some are. Why is this? Which ones are best to fish?? Hopefully this article will answer those questions and more about dock fishing for bass!
Which Docks To Fish
Let's get this out of the way-I can't tell you what to do, I can just tell you what I do from personal experience. If there is a metal dock, or a dock that is floating by big blue jugs, etc. avoid it. Bass like their docks natural-looking. Also, metal legs on the dock usually don't hold fish as much as wooden ones, but this can be stretched if the legs are dark or brown (wood colored).
Also, you may want to avoid docks with boats on them if you aren't an A+ caster. Cottagers or boat owners do not want hooks stuck in their valuable investments. Chances are pretty good they won't appreciate that free lure as much as you would.
If there are people on the docks (this is a given) also skip them. The people will probably spook fish away. Besides, they're trying to enjoy the lake, and they don't want people fishing at their ankles. Leave the dock and come back later when it's vacant.
Where To Fish When You Find The Right Dock
The general rule for me is, always fish the shadow side of the dock first. But there's more narrowing down than that! On the shadow side, fish the wooden legs of the dock first, because those are ambush points for bass. If there are weeds under or next to the dock, pads, or tree limbs or brush, those are also good spots to try.
Do not avoid the sunny side of the dock, but try the shadow side first because your shadow won't be cast on the dock to spook the bass. Also try to stay a good distance away from the dock so as not to spook the fish.
Dock Fishing Lures/Strategies
It all depends on time of day when you're planning to fish docks. In early morning, your best bet would be the quietest approach, then probably throwing a topwater like a dark buzzbait or popper worked as slow as possible. As daybreak moves on, you'll probably want to switch to a spinnerbait. First work the spinnerbait parallel to the dock legs, and if that doesn't entice a strike, try bumping it off of the dock legs or other structure.
The problem with doing this is, often it can completely destroy your spinnerbait after several casts. Terminator Lures has solved this problem with their titanium spinnerbait line, which are made to absorb punishment over a long usage.
If the bass still will not bite, or it is exceptionally hot out, you'll probably want to drop a flippin' jig with some sort of trailer. Make sure the jig is as light as possible to make the jig fall slowly. The trailer will add buoyancy and even scent (in the case or pork or scented plastics).
Terminator also has a line of finesse jigs out with titanium brush guards, which will keep your jig away from those pesky snags better than normal jigs. An alternative to these would be a soft plastic, but I prefer a jig & pork trailer in any situation that involves wood.
It is up to you what you use. Just be careful not to hook the dock or any of the property around it. If you're not a great caster, then maybe docks aren't the best choice for you.
Hopefully these tips will help you to catch bass from one of the greatest places to catch them from, docks! Be respectful of people's property, and be safe on the water... but most of all, have a good time!
Good luck and tight lines!
-"Big Bass" Rich