Fall Dock Bass Fishing

Fall Dock Tactics with Greg Bohannan

Boat docks become prime cover for bass in the fall when shoreline cover disappears due to winter drawdown on reservoirs.
Boat docks become a prime cover for bass in the fall when shoreline cover disappears due to winter drawdown on reservoirs.

The disappearing shallow cover prompts Greg Bohannan to look for new bass hideouts in the fall.

“A lot of times in the fall, the water is falling from winter or fall drawdown, and the fish kind of pull out to the docks because a lot of the cover on the bank is gone,” Bohannan said. “A lot of bushes aren’t in the water anymore, so docks become a prime habitat because those are a lot of what is left in the water.”

The FLW Tour star discloses he has a two-prong approach to dock fishing in the fall. “For the big largemouth, I like the shallowest, flattest docks in the backs of the pockets or the small pockets off the main rivers,” he says. “Then I look for deep docks out over the main channel for spotted bass. It is a perfect spotted bass pattern for the fall.”

The Arkansas pro describes the ideal dock for largemouth as a shallow boat house with old Styrofoam floats rather than the new black encapsulated foam. The dock is usually so shallow that its front end is floating over a depth of 5 feet, and the back end is sitting on dry land due to the drawdown. “Sometimes some of the shallowest docks are the best ones,” he says.

Bohannan’s favorite docks for spotted bass are the more extensive marina or community docks with multiple boat slips sitting over creek or river channels. “I have caught some big spotted bass from those in the fall,” he says.

The backs and shady sides of docks are Bohannan’s prime targets when fishing for largemouth. Wind also plays a crucial role in determining where the hot spots are on docks. “Any time you have the wind blowing on the front corners, that makes those front corners better,” he says. Bohannan suggests the prime spot on a dock would be the shady side with wind blowing into it.

FLW Tour pro Greg Bohannan favors cranking a square bill crankbait around docks to catch bass in the fall.
FLW Tour pro Greg Bohannan favors cranking a square bill crankbait around docks to catch bass in the fall.

Docks are excellent cover for bass on sunny days when the sun positions bass in the shade of the dock. However, cloudy weather causes Bohannan to change his location slightly. “Normally, if I am fishing docks on cloudy days, I am looking for the clearest water, usually on the lower end of a lake,” he says. “Normally, if it is dark-colored or stained water on a cloudy day, bass don’t bite as good around the docks, but if it is a clear-water situation, they certainly will.”

Bohannan rates the back corners and foam under the walkways as the sweet spots of docks during the fall. He notices bass forage tends to gather in those spots on the Ozarks lakes he frequently fishes in autumn. “I have noticed at Table Rock, Beaver, and Bull Shoals a lot of bluegill are on those walkways in the fall,” Bohannan says.

Two lures produce best when Bohannan targets docks in the fall. He cranks the corners and sides of the dock with a Strike King KVD 1.5 Square Bill Crankbait in the sexy shad color or flips a Texas-rigged blue craw Strike King Rage Bug matched with a 3/8-ounce sinker and a 4/0 Mustad EWG hook.

The tournament veteran retrieves the square bill at a quick clip around the docks. “It is a reaction bite,” he says. “Usually, reeling something pretty fast is a big key in the fall. You don’t want to give the fish a really good look at it. You can also cover a bunch of water and make one cast down the side, one cast along the face of the dock, and then a cast down the next side of the dock and then move on. It becomes a game of covering as many docks as possible in the fall.”

Running the lure as close as possible to the dock’s foam is a key to trigging strikes. Bohannan also keeps his lure running rather than pausing it when the crankbait reaches the end of the dock. “If they are on that front corner, they will eat it. If I hit something like a bar on the corner or a cable, I will pause it.”

The Rage Bug works best for Bohannan when he targets the back ends of docks. His primary targets are the back corners, the corner connecting the dock to the walkway, and any walkway supports. He makes a soft pitch to the cover and lets the Rage Bug sink to the bottom. If a bass fails to hit the lure on the initial fall, Bohannan hops the Rage Bug once or twice and then quickly reels it in to pitch to another target.

The six-time FLW Cup qualifier notices the dock pattern changes throughout autumn. In early fall, he finds bass more concentrated on the front corners of the docks, and the fish focus on the back sides of the docks by late fall.

The dock pattern has been productive for Bohannan in fall tournaments. Cranking the square bill around docks produced a five-bass limit weighing 17 pounds, 11 ounces for Bohannan at the Costa FLW Series Central Division season finale at Lake of the Ozarks. Flipping the Rage Bug to docks helped Bohannan amass a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 33 pounds, 1 ounce, to finish fourth in the November Costa FLW Series Championship at Table Rock Lake.

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