Bass Fishing Tips
Fishing boat docks is a good early spring technique that also works at other times of the year. It is a post-spawn pattern. Joe Thomas, professional bass angler is an expert with the pattern. Sitting on a dock at Lake Fork in Texas, he explained the following.
The Ohio-based Thomas offered this advice to those wanting to fish manmade structures. “There are two primary dock structures: floating docks for lakes and rivers where water fluctuates and the permanent platform docks that have permanent piers,” explains Thomas. “Both are productive but that they require different fishing methods to catch fish.”
Beginning with floating docks, Joe sees two things happening. In deep cool lakes, especially those with spotted bass, many of the fish will hold on the structures under the dock. These are cables and weights that actually secure the dock in place. In that situation, his favorite technique is to take a small jig or shaking worm (a glass bead and a little finesse worm) and shake it up under the dock. He throws it up under the dock along the side of the floating dock. When it comes through and across the cables during the retrieve, spotted bass will position to attack it. His other pattern for catching fish on floating docks is when the fish are in that spawn to post-spawn mode. They will suspend, largemouth especially, right under the floats of the dock. Joe then takes a lure that dives 12 to 18 inches and works the perimeter of the floats.
The bass will position themselves in the shade and come out to attack the bait. In this situation, his favorite bait is a jerkbait. Joe recommends using a minnow imitating color and jerking the bait along the perimeter of the dock trying to get the bass to come out. If the fish are not active, Thomas recommends trying a wacky worm or floating worm. He works that around the perimeters of the docks. “A lot of times they will follow the bait out from under the dock,” says Joe. He is quick to point out that they will not eat it. If it is stopped and allowed to fall, fish will go down and get it.
When it comes to stationary platforms, Thomas likes to stay more with a flipping method. He prefers to use a jig, Texas-rigged plastic worm or crawfish bait. He tries to get up to the actual structures of the pier. Thomas explains that “most piers have concrete on the bottom and they can vary in depth from 10 to 15 feet in depth.” To Joe, the key is to find the depth where the fish are located. Once you locate that depth, you can then locate all the docks that are in that depth range and fish them all.
Joe explains that many people just fish docks and they do not think about the depth those poles are in and where to locate the fish. He believes that if you find the fish are in 3 foot of water you can run the wake and work that pattern in 3 foot of water. The key is to find where the fish are and then use a subtle presentation. He recommends pitching or flipping and heavy enough tackle so that when a fish is hooked and he tries to get out the backside of the pier you can haul in the fish.
Concrete docks are unique according to Thomas. The vertical concrete is usually in reservoirs and consists of such structures as pump houses, docks and bridge pilings. They are not as good at harboring bass but at certain times, they are worth exploring. When the shad hang around the bass will follow them to the concrete structures.
Thomas believes that it is a good winter structure because it is vertical. In winter many lakes are drawn down, the fish will gravitate to vertical structure because they can move straight up and down with the bait and they do not have to travel great distances. That is when concrete is effective. Thomas catches bass with a jerk bait or spoon at this time. His key is to find the depth of the baitfish and then to key on it.
Every dock is different and has its own personality according to Thomas. Joe tries to develop a pattern within a pattern on docks. His theory is that if you realize that the majority of fish are coming on the first two to three docks in a cove, that is something you should register. Within that pattern, you want to know; are they under the catwalks, inside poles or outside poles? Is the dock and isolated dock? Are there groups of docks? More often than not Joe gravitates toward isolated docks because he has less to fish. The fish in that area are going to gravitate toward that one dock. He has found that day in and day out the isolated docks are going to be more productive.
Joe likes wooden ladders that go down into the water. The bass will hold on them and you can step a jig down the steps just as you would ledges. He has also found that people throw brush off catwalks and it attracts fish. On the docks themselves, he looks for rod holders and lights indicating that people fish there.
It is important to not only fish docks but also the structure that property holders place in the water along side of them.
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