Now that the weather is transitioning into fall, shad are moving out of the open water and into coves – especially coves with creeks. I like to fish docks this time of year because bass will gang up under them and pick off bigger shad and other prey fish such as bluegills that feed on the smaller young-of-the-year shad. This is especially true of some of the older, deeper highland lakes where there isn’t a lot of good cover except for docks and other manmade cover. A swimming jig is a good go-to bait, but you’ve got to be able to skip it as far under the dock as you can. I’ve taught myself how to skip a bait with kind of an underhand pitch. I use a medium-heavy, 7-foot, 3-inch rod with a tip that’s got some flex to it to help skip the bait.
I usually avoid the docks that are in the main lake or over really deep water – over 20 feet or so – just because the shad seem to favor the flats and shallower water. Start looking for bass at the docks on the lower ends of the coves and creek mouths, then move up as the weather gets cooler. You might find fish of any size anywhere on a dock, but the better ones seem to follow a seasonal progression up the cove. When I’m not skipping the jig, I’m casting a square-bill crankbait to the corners of a dock or the areas between docks. Swimming jigs and square-bills are a good combination for fall dock-fishing.
---- Dr. Pepper TEN pro Glenn Browne, Ocala, Fla.