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Dock Fishing is a technique that can be done all year long. Andy Montgomery gives us his Dock Fishing 101 breakdown.
There are all kinds of cover that bass live in or around. There is one that is an underrated fishing area. I am referring to docks. Many people overlook docks because they take too long to break down, or they just do not know how to fish a dock properly. Anglers who skip over docks could be missing some golden opportunities to put a few more fish in the boat.
Docks can have many characteristics that cause bass to hang around. There are a lot of panfish that live under docks. “There is always a lot of bream,” says Andy. Bass aren’t going to turn down that meal, so you can usually count on them being around. Another great thing about docks is that “a lot of homeowners put out brush,” explains Montgomery. This just adds another layer of cover. This is simply why dock fishing can be so great. There are so many different things to attract bass.
Fish can be caught under or around docks all year long. In the winter “you’ll really need to slow down and there needs to be some extra type of cover involved,” states Andy. The fish are a little more inactive in the cold water so that bonus cover around the dock could give them extra warmth or hide them better to make their ambush more profitable.
In the spring there are pretty much three stages to fishing, especially dock fishing. These are the pre-spawn, spawn, and post-spawn. During the pre-spawn, “they really like to get under them floats, especially shallow floats,” says Montgomery. The fish are able to suspend under the floats and get warmth from them while they are staging up. In the spawn, Andy likes to pitch baits to and around the dock poles. He says that “poles on docks can be good because the fish are going to be spawning around them.” Fish need a hard bottom to spawn, and those dock poles will be planted into a hard bottom to keep them secure. In the post-spawn the bass will move back out to the dock floats because the shad will be spawning around them. When the summer rolls around, bass will be feeding on bream. “Bream are going to be in the shade of the dock,” explains Andy. The bass will be in the same place trying to target them. Going into the fall the bass will be around the floats and poles of the dock, but they will be on docks closer to the backs of the creeks.
Montgomery has narrowed down his lure and lure color choices for dock fishing to a minimum. Andy states that the “spawn is the only time of year that I almost exclusively flip plastics.” Flipping a bottom bait, like the Strike King Game Hawg or Rage Bug, gives him a better chance of dragging his bait across a fish’s bed and getting a bite. The rest of the year he will be dock fishing with a Strike King Thunder Cricket and Tour Grade Skipping Jig. “If I can catch them on the Thunder Cricket, then that’s the way I’m going to do it,” says Montgomery. This bait is a moving bait, so it allows him to cover more water, and put his lure in front of more fish. He likes the Thunder Cricket in white or white/chartreuse if the bass are eating shad. If they are eating bream, he will use the green pumpkin color. If the Thunder Cricket is not getting results, then he will switch to the jig. Andy explains that “I like to fish the jig shallow. If there’s brush present you can fish it a little deeper, but most of the time I like the jig on super shallow docks.” The reason for this is that if docks are deeper and there is no brush then the fish will likely be suspended. Dragging a jig around suspended fish will probably not get bit. Green pumpkin-orange is Montgomery’s main jig color. “It can imitate a bream and a crawdad at the same time,” states Andy. This allows him to target bass eating different things without having to switch rods or lures.
When making precise skips under docks, equipment is a key factor. Montgomery uses his Lew's Signature Series Skipping Rods paired with the Lew's Skipping-Pitching Reel. “They really help you be efficient, and dock fishing is all about being efficient,” explains Andy. They allow efficiency because they are designed just for dock fishing. The rods are the perfect lengths and powers to provide great casts and fight the fish out of that dock. Montgomery uses a slower gear ratio version of the reel when using the Thunder Cricket, but the quicker version with the jig. Even if you know already know the basics on dock fishing, Andy can’t emphasize more that “casting and making the right cast is the number one thing to catch more bass on a dock.” In order to make sure that those casts are perfect, you really need the right equipment.
Next time you go to pass up a dock, remember that there are fish living there all year. If you decide to sit the boat down and fish a dock, do not forget that the fish are on different parts of it during different times of the year. Keep in mind that you want your bait to match what the are eating at the time. Although these are all important things to remember, always know that your equipment is key.