Catching bass around docks is one of the most productive ways to fish the Ozark lakes this time of year. There are a couple of techniques that seem to work year in and year out for bass that are relating to this man made cover.

During the fall you will have fish relating from the main lake to the very backs. Usually it is most productive to fish the main lake docks at the mouths of the creeks and then the ones all the way back. The in betweeners don’t seem to produce as much unless they are on a secondary point or on some type of transition.

One of my favorite ways to fish this time of year is with a swim jig. The bass really start to key in on shad this time of the year and a jig swimming overhead mimics a bait fish perfectly because of it’s free swimming motion. When I’m throwing a swim jig towards the docks I really try to key in on the front and the sides of the docks. The first cast I make is going to be straight across the front of the dock. On most docks there is a cross beam under the water in the front that the bass use it as a hiding spot to ambush their prey. The next casts are going to be down the sides of the docks. Usually if the sun is out the shady sides are a lot more productive. Sometimes you will get a bass to chase after your jig and you can see them following it. Don’t slow down your jig just start reeling it faster to make them commit. A fast steady retrieve
with some rod twitching usually works but you can also catch some fish by killing your jig retrieve when it gets around posts and letting it fall on a semi slack line. For my swim jig fishing I like to use an OMEGA Revelation swim jig in the 3/8 oz size because I can burn it really quick and still keep it under the surface.

If the swim jig bite is a little off another way to go about catching fish this time of year around the docks is to throw a buzzbait, popper, or a walking stick bait. You can catch a lot of fish by throwing it across the fronts of the docks and down the sides and up into the slips. A lot of times the Ozark bass want a really quick retrieve to the point where it is like the bait is skipping across the water back to the boat. Speed can really kill this time of the year. A lot of times with your poppers and walkers you need to work the baits as fast as you can. A good fisherman told me once that if the bass are missing your bait and your getting blowups without hooking up it is a sign that there is something a little off in the way your bait looks or how your retrieving it. Bass don’t miss the baits that they really want. Sometimes with the
walker type baits you just need to give it long slow twitches. Fishing these baits takes some experimentation. For buzzbaits the ones with the smaller blades are better if there is little wind and if there is some chop on the water then go with ones with a bigger blade to get attention of the bass.

If the fish are in more of a negative mood sometimes you have to go for reaction strikes with crankbaits. A real good pattern on the Ozarks this time of year is cranking with a shallow square bill. You can catch them on a shallow runner even if the docks floating over 20 feet of water because the fish often sit just  under the docks feeding on baitfish. Take the crank and bump the sides of the docks on the retrieve just like you would if you were fishing a laydown. Make sure you hit the posts on the docks on the retrieve.

A deep diving crankbait like a DD22 or a Smack Tackle Gizz 4 can be great for finding brush around the docks. The key to fishing this deeper cranks is to run them into the brush. Stop the crank to let it float back up and then crash it through the brush again. When the bait comes through the brush and out is usually when you get your
bites. You can really catch some hogs on a big crankbait this time of the year.

If fishing fast isn’t working one last thing to do is pick up your flipping stick and your shakeyhead rod. When it comes to flipping boat docks you want to be sure to flip to all the posts, flip up under the docks, and hit that cross bar on the fronts of the slips. If you can find brush around the docks all the better. Some of my favorite baits to flip are a OMEGA 7/16 oz jig and a sweet beaver. If you have to downsize or just want to get some bites it is hard to be a shakeyhead rigged with a small worm or a senko. These baits will save your day if you just want to get a some bites. I like to throw The Savior shakeyhead from OMEGA because the screw in the head keeps my plastic worm rigged perfectly all day which saves me time and because the jig has a extremely sharp hook so I can still hook big fish on lighter line.

Spencer Clark
Bass East Editor