Summer Boat Dock Shootout
By Phillip Gentry
Among the variety of crappie fishing patterns that produce fish during the summer, shooting boat docks is probably one of the most fun. Just like humans, crappie yearn for relief from the hot summer sun and a wide boat dock provides an ideal, cool, habitat for fish to live in.
B’n’M Poles is one of the modern pioneers of dock shooting for crappie. Our pros got together to design the Sharp Shooter 6, 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 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.
Before heading out to shoot boat docks, the angler needs to understand that not all boat docks are created equal.
Boat docks come in two basic styles – floating docks and piers or pier docks. The big difference is a floating dock has little or no support structure attached to the bottom. A pier dock has vertical, and more often than not supplemental diagonal and horizontal supports, for stability. The two styles of docks fish differently.
“I really like a floating dock because there’s nothing under it to get hung up on,” said B’n’M pro staffer Scott Williams. “If the fish are under there, and you feel any kind of catch or tension on your line after you shoot the jig up under there, you’ll know pretty well it’s a fish. Pier docks are a little more aggravating because cross bars and vertical supports will snag your jig. The floating docks are a little easier to shoot just because they can be a little bit higher off the water sometimes.”
Williams also recommends at least 10 feet of water or more under a good summertime dock.
Learning how to load and shoot a dock shooting rod requires a practiced skillset. South Carolina B’n’M pro Rod Wall gives some advice on how to properly shoot a jig.
One secret to accuracy in using a shooting rod is to pay close attention to where your thumb is pointing.
“It takes a bit of practice,” said Wall. “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.”
Wall said the placement of the thumb on the handle of the rod is a big indicator of where the jig will end up.
“I lay my thumb out straight along the cork handle,” he said. “Where my thumb is pointing is where that jig is going. If it’s pointing up too high, that jig is doing to hit the dock or somewhere higher than the water. Too low and it’s going to fall short of the target.”
TV Show Host Russ Bailey said his catch rate skyrocketed once he dropped down to 4 pound test line.
Brushpile Fishing TV Show Host Russ Bailey has been shooting docks for many years and always used 6 pound test line. Just last year he made the jump to 4 pound test and was amazed at his results
“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 the 4 pound high vis Gamma line I started using this year made a big difference in seeing bites. It’s simply amazing how much more action the lighter line telegraphs.”
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.”
Choosing the right boat dock and shooting a jig that mimics a falling baitfish will increase your success rates.
Choosing the right jig to tie on is another large piece of the puzzle. Crappie jigs come in all sizes, shapes and configurations. Basic aerodynamics dictates the need for a jig that will skip across the surface of the water once it has been shot. Ball or round head jigs are best suited for this need. The weight of the jig head, combined with the buoyancy of the body is also important.
“In the summer, crappie will move up and down with the sun, sometimes they will be right up under the dock and others they will be down almost on the bottom holding in structure and still others, they may just be suspended in the water column,” said Alabama crappie guide Brad Whitehead.
Action jigs are typically not a popular choice because the action of the jig occurs during the fall. Bodies that shimmy, wiggle, or otherwise move in place on a slow fall through the water column are usually the best all-round choice.
Wherever fishing takes you, B’n’M has been there. Check out our huge selection of crappie rods by visiting our website at bnmpoles.com.
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