Chalk Talk: How Wiggins fishes floating docks

(Editor’s note: The following is the latest installment in a series of fishing tips presented by The Bass University. Check back each Friday for a new tip.)

Smith Lake expert and Bass Pro Tour competitor Jesse Wiggins knows that during the prespawn and postspawn on highland lakes, one of the best places to find numbers of big bass is under floating docks. They may have just been super-shallow, or may be about to go there, but when they’re on this pattern deep water can be your friend.

“It’s kind of going to blow your mind a little bit, but sometimes your boat is sitting in one hundred foot, 80 foot or 40 foot and you’re trying to catch fish that are suspended under floating docks.”

When this pattern is in play, he relies heavily on his Lowrance Active Target technology, but when it comes to lures he typically keeps things remarkably simple. In fact, he often has only two rods ready to go. The first features a 2.8-inch soft swimbait like a Jackall Rhythm wave. He’ll fish it on a 1/8-ounce Owner Sled Head when the fish are closer to the surface, and on a 3/16-ounce model when the fish are 8 to 10 feet or deeper. He uses a Size 30 spinning reel, a 7′ or 7’6” medium-action St. Croix Legend Extreme rod, and 30-pound Seaguar Smackdown braid tied to a leader of 8-pound Tatsu fluorocarbon.

His second choice is a Senko-style bait, almost always green pumpkin, fished on the same set-up as the first option. He wacky rigs the lure on a No. 1 Owner Finesse Sniper hook.

He strongly recommends that anglers learn to skip before they get on the water. “The fish are going to get where they feel the most protected or out of the sunshine,” he said, so it’s critical to be able to place the lure where the sun doesn’t shine. Or, as he phrased it, “You’ve got to get to where those cobwebs are.” That will enable you to fish effectively behind other, less skilled casters. The key is to hit the lure right where the dock hits the water, so that you can maximize the distance that it skips. There may be some trial and error, but “You’ve only got to get it in there one time,” he explained.

He’ll start with the docks on the main lake points, and then progress to those on the “creek swings,” albeit still in or with access to deeper water. If they’re not there, “start easing to the back.” He’s seen situations where the last dock in a pocket will have up to 10 bass holding on it, ready to chow down on his offerings.

One other piece of advice he offers is to look for pockets that don’t have many docks at all, so that the resident fish are forced to concentrate on the limited overhead cover.

If you want to learn some of the other ways that Wiggins makes the most of his approach to floating docks, including when he goes to soft stickbaits in baitfish colors like natural shad and baby bass, check out his full on-the-water video, available only by subscribing to The Bass University TV.

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