How to Cash in on Summer Boat Docks (Part 1)
In this two part series, the B’n’M pros will tell you all you need to know about catching summer crappie around boat docks
By Phillip Gentry
With the summer season in full swing across most of the country, crappie anglers often find themselves at a loss on where to find and how to catch crappie. It’s no secret that crappie are a structure loving fishing, but unless you already have a list of deep water locations mapped out, finding them may prove difficult.
One of the easiest ways to locate and catch crappie during the heat of summer is to fish boat docks. When the B’n’M pros say “fish” boat docks, they’re not talking about fishing around the structure or near the structure, they’re talking about fishing under it.
The best way to do this is to put your bait where the sun don’t shine. It’s often referred to as shooting docks.
In order to catch crappie while shooting docks, you first have to learn the technique, including what rods, reels, line and baits to use, then you need to know how to pick the right boat docks that will hold summer fish.
In part 1 of this series, the pros will discuss how the technique works and what tackle you need to be successful. In part 2, they’ll discuss how to find and locate good docks that hold summer crappie.
This is the hardest part of the entire technique but is a skill that’s easily learned and with some practice, can be mastered. Shooting refers to holding the bait, typically a small crappie jig, in one hand while holding the line tight to the spool of an open bail spinning reel with the other.
“It takes a bit of practice,” said B’n’M Pro staffer Brad Whitehead. “You bend the rod over and hold the jig between your thumb and fore finger under the reel. Release the jig and simultaneously release the line, which sling shots the bait forward, parallel to the water, causing it to skip up under the boat or dock or whatever you’re shooting at.”
This gets the bait deep under the structure and then the angler intently watches the line as it slowly descends under the dock. Any twitch, movement, or piling up of the line is a singnal that a fish has taken the jig.
The backbone of dock shooting is the B’n’M Sharp Shooter 6 rod.
This is the easy part. After years of asking the best crappie anglers what they wanted and needed in a dock shooting rod, B’n’M designed it and made it. It’s called the Sharp Shooter 6.
The Sharp Shooter 6 is a specially made dock shooting rod that combines a one-piece blank is made of extra stiff 98% graphite that provides longer and more accurate “shooting” of jigs as small as 1/64. The micro tip eyelet reduces line wiggle. The handle is made of Portuguese cork and has a fixed reel seat and touch system to provide superior feel for the lightest of bites. Dyna Flo guides provide for smooth line flow to get maximum distance from each shot. As a bonus the rod also has a hook keeper, for keeping things tidy when storing the rod.
The type reel used for shooting docks is also important to provide a smooth release of line during the shot.
The reel is not as important as the rod, but still plays a critical role in dock shooting.
“I want a smooth reel with a medium or larger sized spool so the line doesn’t kink up and peels off smoothly,” said pro staffer Mike Parrott. “You also want a good drag system because sometimes you might have to horse a big crappie out from under there.”
The drag system becomes especially important when paired with lower pound test fishing line.
Believe it or not, the hands down favorite of the majority of B’n’M pro staffers is 4 pound test monofilament line. It seems incredible to use such light line in such heavy cover, but according to Brush Pile Fishing TV show host Russ Bailey, there is a method to the madness.
“Dock shooting is all about seeing the bite,” he said. “If you wait till you feel it, you’ll miss a lot of fish so that 4-pound high vis line makes a big difference in seeing bites.”
Bailey said he’s never had a problem spooking fish when using high vis line even in clear, shallow water.
“It’s just one of those little adjustments that I make in my crappie fishing the more I fish with guys and see what they’re doing and for me, the jump down to 4-pound was a big deal.”
Slab crappie gravitate to boat docks in the summer and shooting a jig under one is the best way to catch them.
Compact crappie jigs top the list for the best dock shooting baits. Pro staffer Kent Driscoll divides that selection even further into solid body and hair jigs
“The two types of jigs that I primarily use are solid body jigs and hair jigs,” said Driscoll. “Solid body jigs skip and, especially in a tight spot where maybe you’ve got a low ceiling, you can aim the jig, hit the water and skip it an additional 15 or 20 feet. Hair jigs do not skip like a solid body. A Bobby Garland Baby Shad is a killer for skipping.”
“Now, the flip side of that is hair. Black crappie love a hair jig,” said Driscoll. “It’s got a little bit more action. It breaths as it falls. You get the flutter effect, which is important, but hair won’t skip. You’ve just got to figure the pattern out. Every day is a little bit different. I tell everybody you need to have both. It’s really just trial and error.”
Stay tuned for part 2 of How to Cash In On Summer Boat Docks when the B’n’M pros will discuss how to pick the best boat docks to shoot. Visit our website at bnmpoles.com
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