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Docks, Rocks and Bass

A question that faces the most anglers is the hide and seek game of bass. All the possibilities create a complex puzzle for the fish and fisherman. Conscious decisions can lead you to more fish and maybe a trophy. One of the keys to a successful day on the water is a pre-trip game plan and making adjustments. Experience, experimentation and a large dose of common sense can lead you to a tournament win, a trophy bass or a couple of fish for the skillet. (Yes, selective harvest is acceptable, the smallest legal fish and no more than you can consume in a meal are my recommendations)

Docks, Rocks and Bass | Kayak Fishing
Three likely areas are boat docks and rock are two of my favorites. All types of cover offer potential hideouts for bass and bait. With the weather and water changes you are likely to face, a couple of minor adjustments could make a major difference in your day. In some bodies of water boat docks have the potential to harbor seasonally resident fish. If there are baitfish, insect, frogs crawfish and small gamefish available bass have no reason to leave. Food, cover and possibly a deep water escape route pretty much ensures a fish or two. As for rock, multiple factors make rocks a great target for casting your fishing lures. Rock radiates heat for comfort and fish egg incubation during spawning seasons, it is also a good home for crawfish.

Docks, Rocks and Bass | Kayak Fishing
Work boat docks and fishing piers from all angles. Practice tossing baits under the piers and posts. Don’t be surprised if you develop a mini pattern such as three feet of water on the shady side. You might also find bass on docks with wooden piers. Wood grows algae which in turn draws bait who eat the algae and so the cycle begins. Fish of other sizes come in and bass feast on both the smaller bait fish and the larger forage. In the winter docks with concrete piers warm up faster, retain and radiate heat. This fact is important to the comfort of the bass and also again pulls food sources to the immediate area. Rock is spread by people around lake sites to battle erosion. It is also found naturally in many places. Early spring warmer water temperatures around rock are bass and bait magnets. Couple places frequented by bass with the ever changing weather and water conditions and you could be in for a memorable day. Add current flow and predictable patterns emerge. Normally downstream from cover is critical. The stronger the current the more likely the position of the fish on the downside of the docks or rocks.

Docks, Rocks and Bass | Kayak Fishing
A key comment to catching bass in neutral or even negative feeding moods is deflection. Armed with this knowledge consider the crankbait. Don’t forget everything you knew previously about cranking lures. Do consider the performance of the bait. While they can be cast and retrieved with some sporadic success they also are tools for certain situations. Square billed crankbaits are super successful for bass in and around cover. The shape of the bill will cause the bait to hit and deflect with infrequent hang ups. The collision with the cover, deflection and start up draws many, many hits from fish of all sizes. Yes you’ll lose some baits but the results will offset the cost of reloading your crankbait box. A 6 ½ to 7 foot rod with some “give” in the tip, a bait casting reel spooled with 12-16 pound test monofilament is my choice of set up. The softer tip lets the fish take the bait and sink the hook as they move off.
Another favorite deflection lure is the jig. A weed guard makes the jig a likely lure for pitching around docks and rocks. The ability of the angler to mimic the look of a crawfish with a jig makes it even more deadly around any size rock. Crawfish are notorious for retreating to rocky cover. Flat water or moving waters, rivers and creeks, might call for a different approach. In zero current conditions I go as light as 5/16th ounce models, in current I top out at a ½ ounce. I always use a soft plastic crawfish imitator shaped bait as my trailer. Braided line (20-30 pound test) spooled to a 6.3:1 retrieve ratio baitcasting reel affixed to a 7 foot medium heavy rod is highly recommended. Work the jig all around cover and again be especially aware of the feel of the bait. As soon as anything feels “different” set the hook with authority.

Docks and any manmade structures can be loaded with largemouth bass, rocks, rock points and boulder rock are natural environments for all species of bass and will almost always yield a fish or two. Of course any time you are casting you might get caught between a dock and a hard place.