Fishing Deep Water Covered Floating Docks
Written By Rick McFerrin
Full Time Guide/Owner
Tennessee Bass Guides LLC.
This article is intended to help the Beginning Fisherman better understand the makeup of deep water (15 ft or more) covered floating docks and what techniques work best for me during the hot weather months when water temperatures reach the 80's and above. Let me say that this is not the only way to catch bass out from under and around docks. But the techniques that I will be sharing fits my fishing style perfectly and has proven over the years to be very effective. There are several other articles aimed at the Beginner that you can view by going to www.tennesseebassguides.com and clicking on the Tips Archive Tab on the left hand side of the home page.
Before We Catch A Bass
Before we catch a bass we need to cover this first. It is always important to remember that the dock and everything either sitting on it or attached to it is someone's private property and should be treated as such. I have never had a dock owner run me off in all the years I have been fishing them. Why? Because I respect the other persons property and their privacy if they are on the dock. But I have witnessed others being asked to leave the dock area because of not using their heads and doing something stupid! The water is public but the docks are private!
Why Deep Water Covered Docks?
Truthfully this question could be why covered docks period! The answer is very simple, boat docks offer Smallmouth, Largemouth and Spots several important things that attract them such as.
(1) Natural Forage: Many docks will support a variety of small bait fish, blue gill and other smaller species of fish and sometimes crawfish that bass just love to munch on. To a bass some docks are like going to an all you can eat restaurant. The key is to find those particular docks, which we will talk about later. It's also important to remember that Older Docks will have a tendency to have more algae on the areas below water level, simply because they have been in the water longer. Why is this important? Because the algae is one component that helps create oxygen and attracts the smaller species that I just mentioned. Bait fish, Blue gill and others will feed on the algae and small aquatic bugs and set up a homestead under the dock, which in turn attracts lager predator fish.
Many States here in the U.S. have changed their construction codes to where any type of real wood cannot be used in the building of docks for environmental and safety reasons. Wood has been replaced by man made synthetics which take a little longer to build up a algae covering depending on lake water clarity and purity. To help you find docks that potentially will have more of this algae buildup look for older docks that still have the wood construction, boats moored at them and jet sky platforms which have visible algae buildup on the areas below water level. Let me stress that Algae Alone is not the only factor that makes a good producing dock. But it certainly gets one started out in the right direction.
(2) Shade: I don't know where you live, but here in middle Tennessee it's HOT! Daytime temperatures haveconsistently hovered in the mid to upper 90's and this week we will break the 100 degree mark several days.
To a bass it's like walking his favorite shad out in the yard letting him swim around while he gets under a shade tree. It may still be hot but the water temperature under the dock can range as much as 8-10 degrees cooler (sometimes more) depending on the density and square footage of the dock. Some of the docks I fish on my favorite lake are 600 square feet and larger. Some are one story tall and other two stories tall. The larger square footage of the dock the greater the shade.
Without getting to technical you have to remember that all fish including bass "breathe" by absorbing dissolved oxygen through their gills. Oxygen enters the water in several different ways such as, directly from the atmosphere, absorption directly from aquatic plants and algae photosynthesis. The cooler the water under the dock the more oxygen can be dissolved in the water. That's why under normal conditions oxygen levels are usually higher in the winter than the summer. Shade provided by docks tend to lower the average summer water temperature and increase the oxygen levels.
(3) Accessibility to deep water: Even though bass are predators they still want a sense of safety. The docks I concentrate on during hot weather sit in water anywhere from 15 feet to 35 feet deep. One big advantage to the deeper water (verses shallow water) is bass on these docks tend to move up and down in the water column instead of out and away from the dock when frightened or reacting to weather changes. Another factor that help hold bass is submerged timber and other structure under the dock. Many dock owner have sunk brush and PVC trees as fish attractors which just adds another plus to that particular dock. Any time you see lights and rod holders on a dock always probe around and chances are you will find some type of structure that has been planted. When bass are moving up and down in the water column and they aren't as aggressive you have to experiment with your presentation. Size/weights of lures, rate of fall of your lures and even the type of lures that they want can change from trip to trip. We will discuss this in a minute.
To me these three things are very important when fishing this time of the year. Dog days of summer drive many bass fisherman in one of two directions. The first would be to their recliners and air conditioning awaiting cooler temperatures or to the lake at night. "BOTH" of these have their own distinct advantages for sure. But I can tell you that you can catch good quality fish during the day from the right docks on your lake. It just takes a little trial and error, effort and practice mixed with a whole lot of patience. But when you find those key docks the fish will consistently be there.
What Areas Of The Dock Do I Fish?
It would be very simple for me to say "All Of The Areas" and I would be telling you the truth. However that won't help you and that is what this article is all about. Helping the beginner learn new techniques and short that learning curve a bit. I'm going to show you several pictures in this section and try to help you see the great potential that docks have. So lets get started.
What About Using Dyes?
About 3 years ago I was introduced to JJ's Magic and man am I ever glad that I was. I use JJ's on everything except under my arms and on my toothbrush. This dye comes in Chartreuse, Blue, and Myth lade. And there is also a Clear that will not change the color of your baits but still leaves that heavy garlic scent that just won't come off cast after cast. Soft Plastics, Spinner Bait Skirt, Swim Baits and Jigs. This product is phenomenal for giving you that extra several seconds to set the hook because the fish just don't want to let go of the bait. I like to dip the Soft Shads tail in the Chartreuse (let it dry) then dip the whole body in the clear. You will NOT find me on the lake without JJ's on my baits....end of subject. www.jjsmagic.com
What About Hooks And Line?
I have to admit that the older I get I get a little more cranky and much more particular about everything I fish with from rods-reels-line-hooks-snaps-baits-dyes you name it. It absolutely drives me nut's to have "Product Failure" due to manufacturing error. Where am I going with this? I have been a avid user of Pline for the past several years. On a early spring trip with my youngest son Daniel to Louisiana a rep gave me some line made by another big name manufacturer ands asked me just to try it. To make a long story short after breaking off 3 "GOOOD" fish in the cypress trees I respooled immediately back to what I should have had on in the first place Pline CX. Problem solved! Is Pline infallible? NO, but I will tell you this, as long as I watch what I'm doing and check my line as I should I have almost "ZERO" problems with Pline. I use it in different pound test for every technique that I use. I like the 12lb test CX Florescent for fishing docks because it is invisible under the water but highly visible above so you can watch your line for those very subtle hits that happens many times fishing docks. It comes off the reel very smoothly and has a very low memory rating but yet is very strong. Just good stuff.
Lets talk about hooks for a minute. There is an old saying that go's the chain is only as strong as the weakest link. Same is true with the fishing equipment we use. I guess I have bought about every brand hook manufactured. Some have been good some haven't. The biggest problem that I have isn't the strength of a hook as much as having a razor sharp point that will stay that way. I started using Mustad Ultra Point hooks about 8 months ago and I can tell you that I'm impressed/ These hooks are needle sharp. Mustad uses a new technology that is called "Opti-Angle" that creates a true needle point that is stronger and "Much More" durable than any other hooks that I have used. Under normal conditions I use a #5 Mustad Wide Gap Ultra Lock Hook fishing the Soft Shad. I also use a #4 and a #2 for smaller baits. Now there are times while fishing docks I want my baits to fall a little faster "But" I don't want to make them nose dive by adding a sinker to the front. When this happens I use the Mustad Ultra Point Power Lock Plus Hooks that you see on the right side of the picture above. The round piece that you see on the shank of the hook is a weight that slides up and down the hook but will stay put where you want it. I use these in 2 different weights 1/8oz and 1/16oz depending on how fast I want the bait to fall. If I move the weight forward the bait fall head first. If I move the weight to the back the bait falls tail first and if I place it in the middle the bait will fall at more of a level angle. This allows me to effectively fish the docks using the right size bait at the right of fall.
What About Rods And Reels?
Let's start with reels first. I have been a Shimano fan for years. I use 2 different size Stradics on my spinning rods. St4000FH for 10 & 12 lb test line and the ST2500FH for 6 & 8lb test. Why? They hold up like no other reels I have ever used, and when you fish as many days a year with as many people that I do you come to appreciate the quality that is built into these reels.
I hope that the information above will be beneficial to you, and help you put several more fish in the boat fishing deep water covered docks. If you have any questions concerning this article, our guide service or web site don't hesitate to contact me at 615-765-7303 or email@example.com Thank you for taking time to read this article. Rick Mcferrin Owner/Full Time Guide Tennessee Bass Guides LLC