My fascination with docks started early in life. From the time I was a baby up until only a few years ago my parents had a trailer on Balsam Lake in the Kawarthas. As a kid one my true joys was going down to the docks to fish. Sometimes my grandfather took us, sometimes my Dad and as we got older us kids just went down together.
Many years later as an adult I still love spending time on a dock. Swimming, reading, launching a boat or just enjoying a beverage sitting in a chair. My true jam however is fishing off the dock.
After spending many years fishing off docks all over the world (or at least all over Ontario) I like to think I have learned a few things which I will try to pass on - brotherhood of the dock so to speak.
In most cases you are stuck with the dock you are on and there isn't the option to choose but if I had to describe my perfect dock it would be: Fairly long, water over 15 feet deep off the end, surrounded by a mixture of sand, rock and weeds and have a boat on only one side.
If panfish and bass are the main species I can easily choose my top 2 baits: worm on a number 2 baitholder hook with a red and white bobber and a watermelon red flake senko style worm hooked wacky on a finesse wide gap hook. If other species like walleye, pike or musky are lurking nearby I would add in a hothead X rap and a number 3 Mepps Black Fury. I am also a big fan of using a small snap swivel when dock fishing. I think switching baits up a lot when figuring out the bite is critical and the swivel helps overcome my natural laziness.
Dock fishing is about covering the water. Long casts at multiliple angles, short pitches to a specific weed clump or rock are good tactics. One of our best tactics is to drop a wacky rig right off the end of the dock with a open bailing arm, let it sink and sit. Not in my top lures but certainly one of the more entertaining ways to catch fish of the dock is to fire a long cast out parallel to the end of the dock (left or right, whatever feels lucky) with a jitterbug. Nothing is more invigorating than having a small mouth blow up on the lures as it skitters back to you. Even better if the sun is going down.
To truly maximize your success fishing as the sun rises and just before it sets definitely improves your odds. I have spent lots of time and money fishing for walleye and pike over the last few years. 2 of the biggest I have ever caught were taken off the dock during peak times at the family cottage near Orillia. Plus there is no better place on earth in my opinion to have your first coffee or after dinner beer than on the dock at sunrise or sunset.
Next time you happen to be lakeside don't rush out in the boat or the kayak. Slow down, pull up a Muskoka chair and enjoy the pleasure of dock fishing. Who know's you might just hook into a monster.