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Image by Keith Misner

the hunter's lane:
freshwater fishing
[the best lures for
dock fishing


Docks are an easy and quick structure to check for action. Finding, or not finding, fish will often clue you in to where they will be. Another prime time to fish docks is during cold front conditions. Inactive fish will tuck under these structures and hold tight, waiting for the passage of the front.


The Hunter's Lane is here to support your success with this brief guide

Freshwater Fishing [The Best Lures For Dock Fishing].


1.) Frog Lures: 

Frogs and toads imitate their namesakes. But fish them around laydowns, rip-rap, or docks in early summer, and they imitate spawning shad flicking their way across the surface. And through summer, they can imitate bluegill, which spawn on every full moon. While these lures resemble an easy meal for bass, their true worth is in their ability to reach the deepest, darkest corners of docks. Skipping these and other lures requires three things. First, you must be patient and practice the underhand roll cast that puts your lure at the perfect angle to the water. You’ll need a casting reel whose brakes are released just enough that only your lure’s weight is needed to pull line from its spool slowly. And you’ll need a medium-action rod, which flexes through the top third of the blank, easily generating enough lure speed to ensure far-reaching skips. While braided line is standard equipment when fishing frogs and toads across thick aquatic vegetation, switch to monofilament — 15- to 20-pound test — when fishing them around docks. Its stiffness will keep it from catching, wrapping, and wedging into crevices. And unlike fluorocarbon line, it floats, keeping your topwater lure on the surface.


2.) Spinner Baits: 

Vibrating jigs like Chatterbaits catch their fair share of dock bass. But spinnerbaits, especially those rigged with willow-leaf blades, can be retrieved faster in clear water, pulling strikes when run parallel with docks, covering plenty of water in the process. They are also easier to fish, allowing you to slow roll them along the base of deep dock posts, where brush piles are often sunk in Southern reservoirs. You may not see this productive cover, but your spinnerbait will find it while its frame and blades keep your hook from hanging up.

Vary your casting angles. While straight down the sides of a dock will get bites, bass under plenty of fishing pressure need something different to bite. Try coming across the corners at a 45-degree angle, or bring your spinnerbait from deep to shallow water. Keep experimenting until you get a few bites, then stick with it.

Regardless of which direction you fish your spinnerbait, make sure bass can access it. This is particularly important when fishing floating docks. Tow it too shallow, and the dock hides it. So, keep your spinnerbait deeper than the float, so bass underneath it can see and strike it. Keeping it there can be done in three ways: switch to a slightly heavier spinnerbait, switch to smaller blades, or slow your retrieve.

Your casts need to be short and accurate. While you can pitch these lures to spots on a dock, an underarm roll cast will get you a bit more distance. So, switch to a rod slightly shorter than today’s norm. A 6-foot casting rod, for example, is easier to cast underhand and has enough leverage to wrestle big bass from underneath docks.
















3.) Stick Worms: 

It’s almost impossible to find a bass angler who doesn’t have a stick worm in their boat. Led by Yamamoto’s Senko, these soft-plastic lures catch bass year-round, especially from shallow water. They mimic the prey dock bass eat and are easy to skip into the tightest spots. Stick worms can be rigged wacky — hooked once through the middle — or Texas-style. Both skip well, so let the amount of cover dictate which one you use. Wacky-rigged ones have slightly more action, a slower fall, and are more attractive to pressured bass. But with an exposed hook, they’re best around docks without aquatic vegetation. So, switch to a Texas rig when you fish ones with vegetation. Fish stick worms slowly. They have inherent action, so you don’t have to move them much. Pitch them to each target and let them settle to the bottom, resting for as long as you can stand. Bites can be subtle, so use braided line, which is extremely sensitive.

4.) Tubes: Some days bass only bite finesse baits. And while small worms, jigs, and even crankbaits can fill that role, tube jigs do it best when fishing docks. That’s not to say they won’t work when the bite is on. They will, and they do. Tube jigs mimic the baitfish and crawfish that hide around docks. They skip exceptionally well, allowing you to put them far under docks or moored boats. Several retrieves work. They can be made to swim with constant rhythmic twitches of your rod tip. They can be hopped along the bottom. And they can be dragged along the bottom, creating a wandering path that mimics a scooting crawfish, kicking up silt that attracts bass. Take care in how you rig your tube jig. They can be Texas rigged, though that approach kills much of their random movement, which is key to generating bites. So, the traditional rigging — jig head inserted into the tube — is the best way. But be careful with its exposed hook around mooring lines, boat covers and seats, and other sticky situations. A better way may be the Stupid Rig, whose specially designed jig head goes into the tube, and its unique hook allows weedless rigging, protecting the hook point.

5.) Jigs: 

If you’re looking for an all-around lure for fishing docks, then look no further than the jig. Shallow or deep, sparse or thick cover, skipped or pitched, you’ll be hard pressed to find a lure that catches more or bigger bass from docks than this one. The best jigs for fishing docks have a hook with a large gap and fiber weed guard. The hook offers plenty of room for a trailer and a bass. And these weed guards can be thinned — not shortened — making them slightly softer, ensuring easier hook sets while maintaining a functional level of snag protection. Jig weight is an important consideration, too. Skipping and pitching accuracy increases with the weight of your lure. It’s easier to put a 1/2-ounce jig on a specific spot, for example, than it is a 1/4-ounce model. While a heavy jig sinks fast, which can generate reaction strikes from bass in clear water, they can be slowed for cold or shallow water. If you’re tying your own jigs, skirts made with more or thicker strands of material will put on the brakes. Adding a bulky soft-plastic trailer has the same effect.

Image by Jeff Vanderspank
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