Darrell Baker: Tales From The Dark Side
Phillip Gentry
Weiss Lake crappie guide Darrell Baker looks forward to late spring when post spawn crappie retreat to the darkest corners of Weiss boat docks.
B’n’M’s Sharpshooter rod is the weapon of choice for shooting jigs far back under boat docks where crappie hide.
Shooting docks takes practice to learn but is very effective when crappie hold tight to boat docks.
When approaching a dock, look at where the sun hits the dock and start on the shady side to reach hiding fish.

Question: Darrell, the crappie bite on Lake Weiss must be really good to pull you off of bluegill and shellcracker beds this time of year. What makes the crappie fishing so good?


Baker: Crappie have been on the bed and that takes a lot out of them. Initially they retreat to the boat docks to just hide in the darkest corners they can find. Pretty soon they get hungry and with fish congregated in tight quarters, they start getting more aggressive. The water temperatures are very comfortable so the fish will be holding just below the surface.


Question: How are you going to reach fish that are hiding under docks?


Baker: Naturally, we’re going to shoot the docks. The best docks are those that have the most surface area and are low to the water. The docks with open boat slips will hold a few fish here and there but they let too much light into the water. To congregate crappie, it needs to be dark – the darker the better. I’m pretty familiar with most of the docks on Weiss but here’s a suggestion for fishing new docks. When you pull up to the dock, look at the position of the sun and how it’s hitting the dock. Look for the darkest area of the dock. If it’s high noon, the darkest spot will be right in the middle of the dock platform, late afternoon it will be on one side.  First thing in the morning or on cloudy days when the sun is partially blocked, fish may move out in front of a dock, especially if the dock owner has planted brush in front of it.


Question: What kind of water do you look for around these docks?


Baker: On average there needs to be at least 6 feet on the front of the dock and around 3 on the back. Docks that straddle a sharp drop-off are even better. To find out what kind of drop exists. Use you’re trolling motor and ease up on either side of the dock while watching your depth finder. A steep drop on both sides will mean it extends under the dock.


Question: What kind of tackle do you like for shooting docks?


Baker: The B’n’M Sharpshooter is a great dock shooting rod. I like the 5 ½ foot model. It’s paired with a B’n’M West Point spinning reel spooled with 6 pound Vicious high-vis line. This time of year I’m shooting a 1/32 ounce jighead paired with either a Southern Pro Stinger Shad body or a Crème Lit’l Fishie. Both of those bodies catch a lot of fish when shooting docks. My normal jig is a 1/24 oz jig but these crappie are holding right under the surface under the dock so it’s shoot and reel. They’ll hit it that quick.


Question: So you don’t use any type of float or strike indicator when you shoot docks?


Baker: No, the anglers who use a float do that to suspend the jig at a certain depth. I have another technique for keeping the jig at the depth I want to fish. I’ll shoot the jig and count – 1001, 1002, 1003 – as it falls. A 1/24 oz jig will fall about a foot per second. I shoot and reel 3 times at different corners of the dock. If I don’t get a bite after 3 shots I repeat the process with a 1002 or 1004 count, before I start reeling. If no bites, I’ll go to a 1005 or 1006 count. Each shot I’m letting the jig sink a little deeper with a longer count before reeling back in. That’s how I find suspended fish. If I get a hit on a 1005 count, I know the fish are holding about 5 foot deep and I’ll keep repeating a 5-count on the fall and retrieve the jig at that depth.


Another thing you can count on to help you catch more crappie is B’n’M Poles. We make a rod for every application, from shooting docks to jigging brush tops to spider rigging deep water ledges. For more on our awesome Sharpshooter rod, take a look at our 2011 catalog. Wherever fishing takes you, B’n’M has been there.