Dock fishing for bass is one of the best ways to catch fish during the hot summer months. With water temperatures nearly topped out for the year, the dense shade of a dock offers some of the best refuge for bass and baitfish alike. And though you can catch fish around docks with several different baits, there are two techniques in particular that can be used to catch bass under docks of all depths, anytime of the day. Let’s talk topwaters and skipping now.
Targeting dock bass with a topwater -
Remember, we’re talking techniques here, not specific baits. The term topwater comprises a wide range of different individual lures. Everything from a Spook to a hollow body frog is considered a topwater, and both work well around docks. So do poppers, buzzbaits, wakebaits, toads, reeling prop baits like Whopper Plopper and double-prop twitch baits like a Brian’s Bee.
All of these baits can be used to target bass relating to docks. The key is often where you throw them. Again, the main appeal of a dock to a bass is that it provides shade. There’s also the added benefit that bream, minnows, shad and other baitfish are also seeking out the shade, so there’s often a plentiful food source to draw bass to docks as well.
A topwater works well on the front, back or either side of a dock at daybreak and dusk, as the bass are likely aggressive in these major feeding windows and willing to venture out from under the dock and bite a passing topwater. But, as the sun starts to bare down, it’s pivotal to pay attention to the shade lines created by a dock, and keep your bait inside them.
If you throw a topwater out on the sunny side of a dock in the bright sunshine, a bass may come out and take a swipe at it, but turn off at the last second and not get it. Throwing on the shady side however, the bass is far more likely to come out and commit to the bait, getting the hook and not simply boiling on the lure.
The walkways leading out to docks and the backsides of docks are particularly productive in the summer on fisheries with a good bream population. Numerous bream species like bluegill spawn in the shallows throughout the summer. Big bass know this and will position themselves underneath the shady and shallow walkways where they can attack passing and bedding bream.
Skipping docks for bass -
The second half of this combo convo is skipping. Skipping, like topwater fishing, is a technique that can be implemented with a wide variety of baits, even some topwaters. Being able to skip a bait provides you with the ability to present your lure deep into the shadiest areas of a dock. This is a particularly useful skill to master, as it allows you to put a bait where many anglers can’t and thus target less pressured fish.
Skipping can be done with both spinning gear as well as baitcasters. Anglers new to skipping tend to have an easier time learning to skip light-weight baits like wacky rigs with spinning reels, though these can be skipped on baitcasters as well. You’ll definitely want to level up to a baitcaster whenever you start to skip baits that are heavier than 1/4 ounce, like jigs, swimbaits and topwaters.
Jigs and wacky rigs are among the most popular baits to skip under docks. The jig has a faster fall and better swimming action, which gives the angler one bait he or she can do two things with well: either fish the bait along the bottom under the dock or swim the bait higher in the water column, closer to the dock over head. Since bass often sit in brush or suspend under docks, a dual purpose skipping jig is a great selection.
The wacky rig has a much more subtle skip, and a slow falling finesse action. These baits work really well for the bass that are suspended just beneath the docks and for fish that are a little more finicky or heavily pressured.
It’s important to emphasize that the hooksets are totally different depending on which of these two baits you use. You can drop your rod tip and lay into a fish pretty good with a jig on a baitcaster. But you’ll want to do a reeling hookset with the wacky rig, allowing the loading up of your rod to set the hook.
Whether you decide to fish a topwater down a dock, skip a bait under a dock or even skip a topwater, dock fishing is a great way to catch bass in the summer. Anytime there’s a combination of cover and a dock, like a brush pile beneath a dock or a grass patch beside it, these are often the highest percentage points and should be attacked first.
Focus on the shade, making sure to keep your topwaters in the shade as much as possible and skipping your jigs, worms and other baits back into the thickest shade you can reach. Bass will sometimes hang in the edge of the shade too, so skipping all the way under a dock isn’t always necessary. You’ll need to pay attention to where your bites are coming from to fine-tune this pattern on a particular day.
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