Crappie and docks go together like peanut butter and jelly or hot dogs and baseball. Docks offer crappie, also referred to as slabs because they are the perfect pan-fish, a great mix of forage and cover. Many anglers over look docks and their potential as far as crappie fishing, especially when the temperatures begin to soar. We’ll look at how to catch crappie from a dock and also how to attract crappie to your dock if you own one.
Many docks have crappie taking cover from the sun as fish move to spawning season and throughout the summer. The key is finding the best places and structures on your favorite lake. One Minnesota angler says that the docks that extend into the water at 4+ feet deep are ideal for catching crappie.
Getting crappie from the dock doesn’t really require any special tackle or techniques. Most anglers prefer spinning gear and say that is is hard to beat. To be successful at docking, I try to find the most active crappie first.
On cloudy days, crappie will swim out into open water. When this happens you will want to toss out a jig and bobber along the edge of the dock. The best casting targets should include dock corners inside and out. Try casting around cement blocks that are anchoring the dock, old posts or other structures that attract crappie. Just try not to get your line tangled on the old mans boat. It makes them kind of grouchy.
On sunny days, the crappie will hide in the shady places located inside the perimeter of swimming platforms or fixed docks. The best way to reach fish in these situations is to use a side-arm cast. This will ensure your rig gets under the dock. Plus your friends will think you’re cool.
Here are 5 top ways to attract crappie at your dock:
1. live minnows: one of the main food sources of crappie, combine the minnow beneath a cork. This method is simple and very effective.
3. Experience with colored jigs: colored jigs will help you navigate various water conditions. Depending on the depth of the water, certain colors are going to work better than others. So when you stock your tackle box, make sure you have a wide variety of colors on hand.
4. Use lots of lures; if your live minnows and jigs are not working you have one more option, lures. A spinner-bait is one of the best choices of lure if you are casting further distance. If you are fishing for crappie in winter or summer try a jigging spoon. These will submerge very quickly so you can better catch the crappie that are deep in the water.
5. Upgrade your pole: the classic option for crappie fishing is the cane pole. These could work against you though, due to the fact that the crappie have a very soft bite. For increased sensitivity, choose a pole made of graphite or carbon-fibre. You will catch more crappie than you think.
Some of the ways to attract crappie to your dock are
Use Fish Lights
Fish lights are fun and affordable and they will attract bait-fish to your dock. Green and white are the best and preferred colors by anglers (and crappie). Aeration benefits the lake environment and the well-being of the fish. Depending on the area size, there are a few aeration products that you are able to choose from. Do thorough research to find the best aeration system for your needs.
Provide Them Cover
Use an old tree, place in your lake/pond to crate a home for the crappie. A spruce style tree is your best option for your dock area. Crappie will use these for sanctuary. What better use for that Christmas tree that you need to get hauled out of the house? Keeping your dock/shoreline clean makes perfect sense. This creates a thriving environment for the crappie (and other fish species).
Melt the Ice
Use lake rakes when you can. In the winter months you want to keep your dock free of ice. This will allow any gases trapped under the water to be released, saving your crappie from an untimely death. Research different de-icers that are available to keep an open area around your dock thawed out. Here’s a popular brand. Kasco Deicer
Floating docks and piers are normally man-made and a favorite fishing spot for crappie anglers. But be careful, some docks offer great fishing, while other docks will have very few to no fish using it for shelter. The best indication that it is a great dock; forage!
There will not only be an abundance of forage but there will also be a great deal of shade, protection and deep water. Crustaceans, grass shrimp, and minnows will feed on the plankton and then the crappie will feed on them. If it is an older dock, it will have a lot of algae growing on it. The algae attracts bait-fish and bait-fish attract crappie.
Attract The Feeder Fish
Here’s an idea for you if you want to keep the crappie around your dock. Go get a battery-operated fish food dispenser. ( Here’s the Grand-daddy of fish feeders)You know like the one for aquariums. Fill it full of cornmeal and set it to feed two times a day. This will keep the shad or minnows around because they know every day there’s going to be food. We all know what happens when there are shad and minnows around our dock. That brings in the crappie. Your neighbors will wonder why you’re always getting all the fish off of your dock and they can’t get any from theirs. Here’s one thats not too expensive. KUIENSI Automatic Fish Feeder
Provide Shade In Summer
The most critical element is shade and protection. A wooden dock just about a foot above the water is ideal. The bright sun forces the crappie to go deeper or under the docks to find shade. The cross-members and posts fro the old wooden docks provide protection ad shade for the crappie.
Deeper water will hold fish year round, while shallow water is best in certain seasons. The water needs to be at lease 6 feet deep to attract crappie. Brush, stakes, trees and other man-made structures will usually be found at the end or under the docks. This provides cover for the crappie and can usually hold a larger concentration of fish.
If you are going to fish from a boat, close to the docks, be mindful. If there is any kind of current it can result in the boat bumping the dock and the fish being scared/scattered away. The owner won’t be too impressed either.
The recommended way to fish close to a dock from a boat; start fishing near the bank. When it is cloudy or there is low light start at the end of the dock. Work your way slowly around the dock. Be sure to work each cross-member and post diligently as you go.
If you follow all of the tips and tricks, mentioned above, when crappie fishing from a dock you will be successful. Just do a little research on the area to make sure the dock isn’t going to be a dud and will have a productive day and a great dinner.
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