Skip to content
Karl's Fishing & Outdoors Logo
How To Effectively Fish Docks During The Bass Spawn

How To Effectively Fish Docks During The Bass Spawn

Bass spawn every spring and knowing where to find fish during this time is key. One good place to locate spawning bass is near fishing docks. Many bass seek shelter in flooded timber or next to laydowns or big rocks, but on my home waters of Lake of the Ozarks numerous bass build their nests behind boat docks.

The docks offer plenty of protection for bass from wind and intruders because the nesting fish can seek shelter behind cables, next to pillars, under walkways and in sunken brush piles. The thousands of docks on my lake gives spawning bass plenty of options but choosing which docks to target during the spawn could be like trying to find a needle in a haystack for a novice angler.

Finding The Right Dock

Finding the right dock and then recognizing a pattern is essential in staying consistent.

The best way to find docks harboring spawning bass is keying on location. I have found most of the spawning bass on my lake prefer building nest behind docks in the backs of coves or in pea gravel pockets. Some spotted bass will build their nests behind large community docks on the main lake or docks situated in the small pockets of bluffs.

The most dilapidated dock you can find in a cove usually attracts spawning bass. There are usually broken pieces of the walkway or other debris from the dock hanging down in the water that bass use as shelter for their nests. Docks with pillars are prime spawning spots for bass because the fish will build nests next to the supports.

Big Fish In Hard To Reach Places

Bass seek shelter during the spawn, hard to reach areas are known for holding fish.

Floating docks held in place by a series of cables are dominant on my home lake. Any docks with two or three sets of cables extending from the pier to the bank are prime nesting spots for bass. If a dock has multiple cables making it difficult to cast behind it, bass will flock to this floating structure for security. I have seen some bass build their nest right under the cables because they seem to know most anglers won’t throw into the metal cables. I have also seen bass fry hang under cables after the spawn so I wonder if it is ingrained into a bass’ brain that dock cables are their security blanket.
When checking a row of docks for spawning fish, it’s best to skip any docks where you don’t see around, shiny spot on the bottom, which is the telltale sign of a bass nest. Usually, the biggest bass are on the nest you can barely see in deeper water.

They May Be Deeper Than You Think

Bass spawn at various depths so start off fishing deep and work you way shallow.

Bass often build multiple nests behind bigger docks, so make sure you fish the deepest area behind the dock first rather than any nest you can see close to the bank. If you fish the visible shallow beds first, you will probably have your boat almost sitting over a big bass on a nest in deeper water. That fish will probably spook off its nest and you missed out on the chance to catch the biggest bass behind the dock.

The height of the cables determines where you should position your boat to catch nesting fish behind a dock. If the cables droop down into the water, you can move your boat up next to the moorings and flip your lure to the rear of the dock. If the cables hang above the water’s surface, you should keep your boat 5 feet or more away from the cables so you can skip your lure under the dock supports.

Baitcaster Vs Spinning?

Using a Casting vs Spinning rod can depend on water clarity, nearby cover, and the mood of the fish.

Even though you will be fishing around menacing metal and wood objects that can easily cut your line, you can use either heavy baitcast tackle or lightweight spinning gear to catch spawning bass behind docks. When fishing murky water I use line as heavy as 25-pound test fluorocarbon, but in the clearest sections of my lake I drop drown to 12-pound test for my baitcasting tackle and 8-or 10-pound line for my spinning gear.

Once I find some nesting bass behind docks, I have about five or six rods with various lures attached on the deck of my boat for tempting the fish. I either pitch over the cables to the nests or skip my lures beneath the overhanging cables and walkways.

Best Baits For The Bass Spawn

A Mystery Tackle Box subscription will help prep you for the spawn.

Some of my favorite lures to pitch on baitcasting tackle are jigs with plastic craw trailers, Zara Spooks, double-tail plastic grubs, shaky head plastic worms and Texas-rigged plastic creature baits or plastic lizards. My lure choices for skipping behind docks with spinning gear include soft plastic jerkbaits, tube baits and wacky-rigged Senkos and floating worms.

The real challenge for catching spawning bass behind a dock occurs when the fish bites and you set the hook. Trying to coax a stubborn bass through pillars and around cables can be a hair-raising ordeal. However, with your drag set right so the bass can make some short runs without breaking your line and some patience you can eventually wear down the fish and lead it to the boat.

Updated May 3rd, 2019 at 8:12 AM CT