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Landing dock fish


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Taught myself how to skip earlier this year (large thank you to Diawa's SV spool) and been hitting docks hard this year trying to learn the jig better. I've had decent success hooking up with fish under docks but my struggle is now landing them. I do my best to muscle them out and I've yet to have any line breaks but they will 9/10 run the line over a dock support and it gives them enough to come undone. 

 

Cant decide if this is just something to expect, if I'm not pulling hard enough (drag slips, have it set to 4lbs, cant muscle much more unless I go braid and nearly lock it), my hooksets arent enough (reel up slack and sweep hard) or if there is something I'm missing.

 

Any input would be appreciated. Skipping has opened up quite a few more fish for me but its getting frustrating not being able to land even 50%. 

 

EDIT: If it matters I've primarily used a 7'2 MHF Expride A with 17lb defier Armilo on a Diawa Tatula SV 7.1

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A couple of well known fisherman, Charlie Brewer from TN, and Guido Hibdon from Missouri talked and wrote about " leading " a bass from under docks and other cover. Get a solid  hookset and keep steady pressure on the fish. Many times, they were able to get the fish to swim out away from the dock, where they could be landed more easily. I've had mixed results with this. Some fish are determined to stay under the docks. Some will swim out easier.

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25 lb big game.  Lock the drag down.  Winch em out.  Pray the line holds.  Re-tie.

 

To me there isn't much choice in the matter with fishing docks.  They're gonna pull you through rusty metal cables and nails and rocks every time so speed and power are essential.

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There are two different methods to try, going beast mode to get the fish out from under as quick as possible. It might be worth moving to a heavy powered rod to aid in that one, but it can be done with a MH rod too. I'm not sure on what actual poundage to set the drag at, but if you're using 17 lb. line you should be able to have it pretty tight. 

 

The other option may seem counterintuitive, but when you hook them only apply slight pressure on the fish and slowly work them out from under the dock. Generally the harder you pull the harder they'll fight so if you don't pull very hard, you can somewhat coax them out from under the dock without as much resistance. 

 

Try both and see what works best for you. I feel either would let you land far better than 50%. 

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I go with the brute force method. Braided line and a tight drag. Works most of the time. Jigs take a pretty good hookset to begin with, so that's what I do. You'll always have one get caught up under docks occasionally.

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8 hours ago, WIGuide said:

The other option may seem counterintuitive, but when you hook them only apply slight pressure on the fish and slowly work them out from under the dock. Generally the harder you pull the harder they'll fight so if you don't pull very hard, you can somewhat coax them out from under the dock without as much resistance. 

 

Last Winter my PB spotted bass(4 lb, 15 oz) got herself tangled in a falling down dock.   I was using a Seibert Jig....... super sharp single hook bait.  I got a good hookset so I wasn't worried about a big one coming off.   I took my boat to the other side of the dock and "led" her out.   When she saw the boat she went crazy, but I was far enough away from the dock to be OK by then.   

 

 

I'll have a BUNCH of BIG bass come unhooked for saying this, but most of the bass I have come unhooked are small.  A good hookset just jerks them through the water.  A big bass has enough resistance, due to it's mass/weight to allow the hook to sink deeply.   

 

Treble hook baits are an entirely different story.  Many times bass are skin hooked with them.  Sometimes I believe they're just going to come off, especially if you hoss them.   

 

I don't use a scale to set my drag.  However, I do leave it fairly loose.  I thumb my reel on hooksets, and anytime I need to pull a little harder.   I usually fish with 12 or 14 pound mono.   Good undamaged line, with a good knot is amazingly strong.   

 

Added: I'm not an expert, and I'm not intending to act like one.  I rarely lose a bass that's over 3 pounds.   I can't remember that last time a fish broke my line.   Obviously in really heavy cover results, and probably the tackle I use would be different.   

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I just pull them up to the surface with the rod and then once up wind them in.  Use the rod to sweep and pull at the fish instead of freezing and winding.

20 hours ago, WIGuide said:

There are two different methods to try, going beast mode to get the fish out from under as quick as possible. It might be worth moving to a heavy powered rod to aid in that one, but it can be done with a MH rod too. I'm not sure on what actual poundage to set the drag at, but if you're using 17 lb. line you should be able to have it pretty tight. 

 

The other option may seem counterintuitive, but when you hook them only apply slight pressure on the fish and slowly work them out from under the dock. Generally the harder you pull the harder they'll fight so if you don't pull very hard, you can somewhat coax them out from under the dock without as much resistance. 

 

Try both and see what works best for you. I feel either would let you land far better than 50%. 

This is what I do and I use 10 lbs flouro with finesse baits. Just pull at the fish with the rod and they naturally will work themselves out.  My hooksets aren't violent either since I am using light line and thin gage wire hooks. The fish don't seem to even know they are hooked until they are out of the dock and spaz out by the boat.  

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On 5/25/2023 at 9:16 AM, Mobasser said:

A couple of well known fisherman, Charlie Brewer from TN, and Guido Hibdon from Missouri talked and wrote about " leading " a bass from under docks and other cover. Get a solid  hookset and keep steady pressure on the fish. Many times, they were able to get the fish to swim out away from the dock, where they could be landed more easily. I've had mixed results with this. Some fish are determined to stay under the docks. Some will swim out easier.

 

Guido Hibdon, haven't heard that name in a while. Thanks.

 

RIP, 10Mar18.

 

Thanks,

Keith

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17lb line with 4lb drag?  I think you've already identified the problem.   You're probably pulling drag on the hookset and not actually getting the hook into the fish.  Tighten the drag some.  I use 15lb braid on a spinning rod and have no problem horsing dock fish out without breaking line, but I have the drag set tight enough that the line digs into the spool as it starts pulling drag - maybe 12lbs?

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On 5/25/2023 at 6:29 PM, Jleebesaw said:

I go with the brute force method. Braided line and a tight drag.

Same.  MH rod, braided line, and brute force.  Get 'em out from under or around the dock so you can fight them more in "open" water away from all those sharp edges.  I exclusively use unweighted soft plastics nowadays when I'm skipping docks.  Any hard baits or lead is a no-go for me anymore because of the noise they make when bumping something.

 

Sometimes they do come off though.  Just part of doing business around docks.  8 out of 10 I'm able to land, even the sizable ones.

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I don't use casting gear to skip but will skip senkos under docks and pontoon boats on finesse tackle, like other posters have also said my advice is to always make sure you have good drag and set the hook and start reeling, most of the time for me it seems like the initial hookset will "bring the fish out" from the dock and in open water. I have the same approach when punching heavy grass, that fish needs to get back to me as quick as possible so it can't dig in the weeds. 

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