February 17th, 2016
The common thing to do when you pull up to fish a set of boat docks is to pull out a flipping jig, a Texas rigged Senko or creature bait. Don’t get me wrong, these are great techniques and work most of the time. However, on a pressured lake, the fish can get conditioned to having the same thing dropped on their head day in day out, and become very hard to catch. What about the days when there are waves crashing in and it’s almost impossible to skip a bait under a dock? It’s under these conditions that I’ll pick up my crankbait.
The two best applications that I’ve found to use this technique are first thing in the morning and when you’re fishing a windblown shore in the heat of the day. Early in the morning, the Bass are typically holding near docks, but not necessarily using them for shade just yet. Bass are a structure oriented fish, so even if they’re not right under the dock, they won’t be too far away. On windblown shores, the waves and increased water movement typically bring cooler, oxygenated water in, and therefore being held up in the deepest, darkest part of the dock probably isn’t as important to the fish. Also, if there’s a soft bottom, the waves will stir it up, attracting baitfish which can ignite the Bass into a feeding mood.
The key to this technique is to not try to cast the crankbait directly under the dock like you would a jig, not only because it’s really hard, but you’ll probably end up hitting the dock and breaking your crankbait. It’s important to make short, accurate and strategically placed casts towards the dock. When I’m approaching a dock, I’ll point my boat parallel to the shoreline and even with the face of the dock. This allows me to make my first cast across the outer face of the dock. I’ll then repeat this cast a few times, trying to get the crankbait to swim as close to the dock as possible. I’ll then use my trolling motor to move out in front of the dock so my boat is facing it, and proceed to make short, repetitive casts along each side of the dock. This is a reaction technique, so if you haven’t gotten hit after 3 or 4 good casts on each side, move on to the next dock.
My favourite rods for this technique are a 6’10” Shimano Compre or Cumara baitcasting rod. These rods are a bit shorter than what I would normally crank with. Having a shorter rod is critical when trying to make short, accurate casts. I find 6’10” is perfect because it allows me to make pinpoint casts but is still long enough that I can control the fish and steer it around the docks. I use 12 lb. Trilene 100% fluorocarbon because of its low stretch and abrasion resistance if the Bass ever happens to get wrapped up.
By far my favourite crankbait is a Strike King Series 4s. The colour doesn’t seem to matter too much, as long as it resembles some sort of forage. The “Tennessee Shad” colour resembles a bluegill or rock bass quite well. The “Sexy Blueback Herring” colour is my personal favourite. It really has no negative cues, so you can throw it pretty much anywhere, anytime and get bit. As for rattle/no rattle, in windy conditions I would definitely use a crankbait with sound, but other than that, I don’t have a preference either way. It’s just matter of figuring out what the fish want.
Next time you’re out on the water and normal dock techniques aren’t working for you, try picking up a crankbait and you might just turn a tough day into one of your best. Good luck fishin!
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Steve is a talented multi-species tournament angler, based in Orillia Ontario. When Steve isn't on the water, writing articles or editing YouTube fishing videos, he's an Environmental Studies student at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario. Steve plans to pursue a career following his passion for the outdoors and in particular fishing.More by Steve Rowswell