Mention summer bass fishing and a lot of minds turn to offshore pursuits. No doubt, those ledges, humps and rock piles in deep water hold loads of fish; but not all bass spend their summers off the bank.
Fact is, many bass just prefer to stake out some shady shoreline structure with quick access to deep water and docks fit that bill nicely. Just about any structure will do, but Bassmaster Elite Series pro Jason Christie likes a few particular features.
First and foremost, shade is that essential ingredient for dock appeal—particularly during summer’s dog days.
Good point here from Christie: “In the morning, the dock will be throwing long shadows, so those fish might be out roaming the edges. But at midday, when the sun is just about right overhead, those fish will tighten up to the cover of that dock.”
Of course, the afternoon will find long shadows returning (on the dock’s opposite side) so adjust accordingly. Christie notes that this point often brings him back to the same dock two or three times during the day. Fishing a good piece of cover during various shade stages can offer multiple opportunities.
Same goes for wind. Calm conditions facilitate skipping jigs or swimbaits back under a dock, while wind-driven waves position baitfish and the bass that seek them. Essentially, it’s about fishing the conditions and doing your best to minimize intrusions.
Some anglers like to ease in close to a dock and actually reach over, across and around whatever maybe blocking their presentation to fish that rarely see baits.
Christie advises hyper stealth when fishing docks. Sonar sounds will spook fish, so shut off the electronics. Also, avoid blowing out a dock with sudden trolling motor bursts and, by all means, don’t bump the dock.
Minimize the noise, approach from cast-friendly angles and you expect to catch dock fish throughout the summer. Best part about this deal is that, unlike the often tedious searching of offshore structure, locating the next dock is just a matter of looking up and saying “There’s one.”