Dock Fishing is Fun for Everyone


Sometimes you just want to catch a fish.

Kids call it fishing. Tournament anglers call it “fun fishing.” As in, “I went fun fishing today and caught this catfish on a spinnerbait. LOL, good thing it wasn’t a bass tournament!”

I thought fishing was supposed to always be fun, so I don’t really know what those tournament guys are talking about. Maybe I’m just a big kid.

I grew up fishing off a dock on Pistakee Lake, in northern Illinois. Old Man Dozer let me fish off his pier, and I would catch bluegills, crappies, catfish and carp. I’d set out poles with chicken livers on treble hooks the night before. Then at daybreak, I’d reel in a bunch of catfish and drop them in the keep basket.

Next came bluegills and crappies, right under the dock on top of the Christmas tree pile. For dessert, it was tackle-busting carp as big as my leg. After breakfast, we’d hop in the Sears Gamefisher 12-foot boat with the 9.9 Ted Williams motor and off we’d go—to fish other peoples docks!

Dock fishing still produces today, but sometimes we anglers get a little off track of the true fun you can derive from simple dock fishing. Let’s take a look at how to maximize fish catching next time you go “fun fishing.”

Take it easy

Using the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) principle of angling is best. Two rods with two setups are all you need to catch every fish under the dock! You don’t need a $600 rod and reel combo and 74 tackle boxes full of lures.

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A tungsten ice jig fished on ultralight rod is the way to start your day (I like Custom Jigs & Spins 4.5mm Chekai jig). This is simple fishing, my friend; no bobber. The tungsten jig has enough weight when cast, tossed or pitched up under the pier, and the right fall speed to attract bluegills, crappies, bass, catfish… you get the picture.

You can tip the jig with a red worm (messiest), a few wax worms or spikes (cleaner), or a Berkley Gulp wax worm (cleanest). Then it’s just a matter of pulling the boat up and holding close to the pier and pitching under, around and near the pier. If there are a lot of weeds, you’ll need to reel in a little quicker than if you have a sandy of gravel bottom.

The next option is a simple jig and ’crawler. Because of all the obstructions under and around piers, I use a weedless jig. B-Fish-N Tackle’s 1/16-ounce Draggin’ Jig is light, bright, weedless, and has a wire keeper that holds the ’crawler tight to the jighead.

I’ll use a half ’crawler, which seems to work best. A light-action spinning rod loaded with 6-pound test is all you need for a walleyes, bass, catfish or whatever else is hiding in ambush under the pier. The technique is the same as with the tungsten ice jig. Cast, toss or pitch that jig right up under and around the pier to see what’s down there to give you a tug!

After you fish enough piers, a pattern will develop; this is the moment of clarity that every angler wants to achieve. A Zen-like moment where you and the pier are one!

At this moment, you can call your shot, just like Babe Ruth. Sometimes it’s the shady side of the dock where the crappies are hiding. Sometimes it’s the back side that holds the perch, sometimes it’s under the boat lift and not the dock where Mr. Bigmouth is waiting, sometimes it’s in the open next to the dock (bluegill apartment complex). You get the idea.

And once you figure it out, you’ll be “fun fishing.”