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View Full Version : One detail about docks.



no1son
09-10-2012, 07:31 PM
Our Mn DNR docks have solid floors and float on solid foam pads and are some 8' wide or so. It is every easy to overlook one aspect of them, and that is current. There is generally flow one way or another under the leg that goes out to the cross T at the end. It pays to fish on the side where the water flows in under that arm. Very often one side of the dock arm will produce fish and the other side will not.

That does two things. It carries your bait or offering back under the dock into the dock shadow where crappies will often lay up, even on bright days. It also presents your offering into the face of fish laying there, fish that if not actually cruising will be laying face into the very slight current. I am not talking about much of a flow, but if one pays attention one will usually see some, very often a deeper current counter to the direction of the breeze, sort of an undertow. The fish seem to face into it and it helps reaching crappies laying back in the shade the dock casts from overhead.

Last Thursday evening there was enough current to carry my 64th oz jig on 2# test line well under the dock and deep into the shadow, enough so that the line was running about 30 degrees off vertical at times over 15-20 ft of water. That made finding bottom a bit difficult, but that was still possible. The retrieve was a settle to the bottom a slow reel in and that was about all. Most hits happened as the jig came up past the fish. We took a respectable number of crappies from down under our feet, fish that actually bit behind us.

The current out from under the dock on the other side of the leg did not allow us to get in under and into the dock shadow and produced no fish, until later when the resting crappies came active and came out cruising. A 32nd oz jig on 4 pound test did not get in deep enough in under the dock to reach the resting fish, either, being just a bit too heavy.

There is also a break between the surface layer moving with the breeze and the edge where it meets the undertow. Quite a number of our crappies came from that edge. The break up of the surface movement by the floating dock complicates that a bit, providing a pretty much stationary interface between the current directions, if the breeze is not too strong.

They will not be all along the dock arm either normally, you have to find the right spot for the day you are out at least until they go active and move out from under the shade. If the crappies are not active, that can be pretty small, too, and can vary some from outing to outing both in regard to depth and where along the dock arm you will find them.

split handle
09-11-2012, 06:52 PM
Interesting! Thanks.

Bluegill buddy
09-11-2012, 06:57 PM
Thanks for the info no1son. I do alot of fishing from docks/shore (dont have a boat) in the south east south dakota area and always enjoy good pointers. The crappie are a little difficult to find in alot of the lakes here and most people are looking for walleye, so its hard to find information about them. Heck I even get a little bit of crap from some of the bait shops for even looking for the crappie and panfish. Thanks to all who share their wisdom on this site!

Eager Beaver
09-12-2012, 01:22 PM
I fish whatever side the shade is on. I cast to the bank and run my bait as close to the dock as I can get and then will move in and cast up under the dock. I work from the outside in. I can get more fish off of each dock this way. EB

no1son
09-12-2012, 04:54 PM
I also tend to work from the deep to the shallow. I will often make a few casts first to check if the crappies are out and cruising, but unless it is really cloudy, I don't spend much time at it, unless I find them there. The docks I like best don't have any headroom above the water to enable casting under them, but any undertow current will help.

You are definitely correct to concentrate on the shadier side though, in my experience.

I will also cast along a dock leg on the up current side. That carries my offering deeper into the dock shadow. That also helps me determine what part of the dock arm they are using. It also helps determine whether they want vertical movement or are looking for some horizontal movement.

I prefer to fish vertical if I can, but there are variations like casting along the dock and allowing a settle either on slack line or tight line, they give a bit different angle of movement or doing a slow crappie version of the figure 8. Sometimes only a little lateral movement is all it takes, once you find the right depth.

no1son
09-12-2012, 05:28 PM
Thanks for the info no1son. I do alot of fishing from docks/shore (dont have a boat) in the south east south dakota area and always enjoy good pointers. The crappie are a little difficult to find in alot of the lakes here and most people are looking for walleye, so its hard to find information about them. Heck I even get a little bit of crap from some of the bait shops for even looking for the crappie and panfish. Thanks to all who share their wisdom on this site!

How far SE? In the Sioux Falls area try Lake Alvin on the SD side of the border or go across to Pahoja just over the border on the Iowa side. Alvin is said to have crappies and I know Pahoja does. About an hour and a half east there are lots of crappies in the Okoboji/Spirit lake area and both shoreline and fishing dock access around if you take the time to search it out. Or farther south have a look at Storm Lake.

Stock tanks are a little small, but there are also farm ponds in that area with some real nice crappies. If you know of any of those see, if you can get permission to fish them. I grew up just on the Iowa side down there and many of my relatives live there, and I know of a few, but will not identify them by agreement with the landowners. Just one caution those who have the best ponds, are very careful who they let in and how many fish of what kind they let you harvest. Getting permission is one thing, but keeping requires that you be very courteous and follow their rules, and they will watch you until they trust you.

One other thing: you also have crappies in the rivers down there. I know that from personal experience. You will just have to find them and that is a whole other ballgame. Look for oxbows and pools where the current is broken, such as on the downstream side of major bridge supports. In the process you will stumble onto walleyes, pike, catfish (including possibly some very large flatheads), smallmouth, goldeneye and/or mooneyes, and perhaps some other fish like carp, all of which will at times take crappie offerings and are all present in most of those waters, except possibly the Big Sewer in and below Sioux Falls. Down stream the Big Sioux becomes pretty decent fishing water, although I still wouldn't recommend eating fish out of it. Don't overlook respectable sized ponds or holes in smaller streams and criks either although bigger flows are more likely to produce. You have a number of smaller prairie rivers in that area on both sides of the South Dakota/Iowa border. They are surprisingly fishy for those that learn how to fish them.

I would have to say that if you are getting the silent treatment in the baitshops that sell crappie minnows, you are close. I would be willing to bet that some of their local friends are taking them some place close by and they are protecting "privileged" information. In that, for all that they are generally pretty friendly folks, if you are an outsider you won't get the whole story and in a lot of cases not any of it, until you get accepted as trustworthy. That is generally small water country, that does not welcome being overrun from the outside.

Whatever you find, however successful, you should not post locations or identifying landmarks here for all the lurkers in the world to read.