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 Wood has been replaced by man made synthetics which take a little longer to build up a algae covering depending on lake water clarity and purity.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.
The suns beating down, we have mile high sky's and once again it's just plain old HOT! When I take my dogs outside to do their business where do you think I stand? If you guessed under a shade tree you would be absolutely correct! It may still be hot "But" it is several degrees "Cooler" than just standing out in the direct sunlight. The same principle applies to docks. Look at the picture here to the right.This picture was taken on a bright sunny day last month. Look at the shaded areas under the dock.
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.
The picture to the above is a side view of this dock. The key areas to concentrate on are the right and left hand corners of the dock and the shaded open areas between the floatation blocks. If you will notice that the height of the dock roof and the height of the boat is casting a shaded area toward you. This will be the angle that provides the most shade. If the bass are active it is not unusual for them to chase the bait out several feet into this shaded area. You will want to "skip" your bait into these open areas between the floatation as far back under the dock as possible. You corner cast should be several feet past the corners to allow you to work the bait correctly.
The picture to the above is a portion of a different dock. The key areas would be the entire length of the right side of the dock, the right hand corner and all of the water under the boat lift including the left and right corners of the slip opening. Once again it is very important to skip the bait as far as possible under the boat and the make your right side cast as close as possible to the dock.
The picture to the above is the back left hand corner of this dock which is nearest the bank. They key areas are the open portion between the floatation (hidden behind the 2007 date) the back corner, the length of the back side and the entire area between the bank and the dock. If you will notice in the picture to the right that this lake is very low this summer due to the drought that we are experiencing. All the wood decking you see would normally be in the water at this time of the year. This is a "MUST FISH" area when the water is up. The best way that I have found is to position by boat against the cable that is running from the corner of the dock to the bank and actually fish over the cable pitching and skipping my lures into and around as much of the wood as possible. I will work one side of the structure at a time. When I reach the other side I will fish the other side. Another thing to notice in these pictures is the walkway from the dock to the shore. This will also provide shade to one degree or the other and that shade will increase the closer you get to the dock. I have caught and lost some "big" fish in this type of areas.
The picture on the above is a different dock looking at it from from the opposite side from the ones above. The key areas remain the same. Opening floatation areas, back corner, entire length of back side and the open area between the dock and the shore. The picture on the right of another entire side view which affords us some additional opportunities. The key area here would be the right and left hand corners of the dock, the open areas between the flotation, the white PVC hose pipe hanging down and the back of the pontoon boat parked in front of the dock. Once again it is important to get you bait as far under the dock as possible.
The picture above is a close up of the one above right. You can see the additional shade the exists under the pontoon boat. The picture on the right gives us some different opportunities. Not only do we have the opening between the dock floatation and the area between the dock and bank but the big float tube and slide as well. Have you noticed something different about this dock? Yes? No? Take a closer look-the dock isn't covered. It has been my experience that this type of dock will produce less during this time of the year than a covered dock, but big shaded areas like the one under the tube should be checked out. Just please don't stick the tube...remember our dock owner conversation? These two pictures are of the same covered dock and gives us evenmore possibilities. This covered dock has jet ski platforms attached in two different areas of the dock. So we have the corner of the dock, the entire length of the front of the dock, the open flotation area, the side and corners of the jet ski platform and the crack between them. Don't ever discount the crack between the platform. I have caught a lot of good fish that was suspended directly under them. We also have the back side of the dock which is not visible to us in this picture.
These are the key areas that I concentrate on when fishing deep water covered docks during the hot weather months. With a little bit of a learning curve these will work for you as well.
PART ONE: http://www.fishin.com/forums2/conten...and-Smallmouth
PART TWO: http://www.fishin.com/forums2/conten...mouth-PART-TWO