Dock Fishing
By Dan Galusha

Those of us who fish mainly from a boat have caught many fish around docks. This same thing can apply when fishing from shore.

Fish like any cover, and docks are some of the best. They provide shade and some underwater attraction if there are pilings. Some docks have brush piles around, under and/or near the structure. They will hold all species, especially bluegill, crappie and bass. This is why it is a great place to start kids and other beginners.

Docks are found in many sizes and designs. Some have boats, while others are for fishing or temporary docking of boats. The best ones have at least three to five feet of water under them, and get deeper towards the outer end.

The first thing to do before fishing any dock, whether on private or public water, is to see if it is allowable. Some docks are only for boat ramp areas, while others in these same areas allow fishing, but ask dock anglers to yield to boaters. Commercial docks, with rental boat slips, many times will not allow fishing on or around their complex.

When approaching a dock, fish it from shore first. Don’t go out on the dock, and make a lot of noise.

Work the line along the edge of the dock, selecting the shady side first. If possible make some casts under the dock. If there are boats, fish small areas between the dock and boat. Any bends on a dock area, such as an “L” shape, are good target areas. If the previously mentioned brush piles are around, fish them as well. As with any fish-holding structure, if there is anything slightly different, give that spot a try—there is a good chance it is holding fish.

Once this is tried, slowly work out on the dock, and towards the end. Fish the outer edge, and again, any brush piles. This is usually the deeper point of the dock, and where the bottom is starting to taper downward.

A dock can also be used to fish the other parts of the shoreline. Parallel fishing a shore is an excellent technique from a boat, and can be equally productive from a dock. Using crankbaits, spinnerbaits and plastic worms, in this manner can produce bass. Paralleling small jigs under a float is an excellent method of catching panfish. This is very helpful in smaller lakes where weed and moss lines are coming out from shore. Fishing from the dock can avoid the problem of fishing over the top of these areas, as is normal from shore.

Vertical jigging techniques work well when on the dock. Small jigs worked up and down, at different depths, are one of the best ways to have a great day for panfish. Keep the line close to the dock, and be ready for a slight tap and line movement towards the dock. Remember, unless there is a brush pile out from the dock, these fish are not going to move far from their safe area and ambush point.

Never pass up a dock. Use the right approach, fish all areas possible, and use these basic techniques. The combination should produce a good day of fishing.

If there are any questions I can be contacted through the Dan’s Fish ‘N’ Tales® website at
which also provides a link to the Fishing Facts website.

Until next time, get out on the water, and have a great day of fishing.