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Dock Shooting: How To Fish Docks For Late Fall & Winter Crappie

Expert tips for crappie anglers of all skill levels. If you like crappie fishing, you need to try dock shooting.

World-class dock shooter and expert crappie angler Terry Blankenship (Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri) displays a dock shot crappie from his local lake. 

When water and air temperatures force pleasure boaters, water sports participants and beach goers off the water, lake docks become available for “easy” dock shooting.

Make no mistake: Dock shooting isn’t easy.  But now is the best time of year to practice, perfect or try it for the first time.

Terry Blankenship is one of the best dock shooting crappie anglers alive today and on a recent fishing outing on his home lake, Lake of the Ozarks, he showcased his skill and shared his tips to help us all catch more crappie dock shooting.

Rod, Line & Jig Options

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Dock Shooting: How To Fish Docks For Late Fall & Winter Crappie 1

Odds are the fishing gear you already own is suited for dock shooting, but like any precision skill, there are tools that make the job easier, safer and more efficient.

These tips will help you avoid some early-stage user trial and error at a time of year when most crappie anglers are fishing open water around the main lake channel.

“Your rod type will affect shot trajectory, and your line’s make/test will affect fall rate and bite detection,” Blankenship explained. “Your fishing rod’s flexibility is key.”

If you’ve ever shot a bow or seen a bow shot, dock shooting equipment can be compared simply as such: the fishing rod is the bow, the line is the arrow, and the jig is the broadhead/field point. When paired correctly, the results are lethal for the pursuit.

Medium-Light action spinning rods are best for consistency, aim and distance. Light action spinning rods offer maximum torque for flight and skip speed but will hinder consistency and hook sets. Medium action spinning rods typically lack the flexibility needed for consistency.

Fishing rod length should fall between 5 and 8 feet. The shorter the fishing rod, the higher the launch trajectory. There’s no one size fits all. Just like in golf, each angler will have a unique swing.

“Hi-vis light line with little to no memory is going to put a lot more fish in boat,” Blankenship emphasized.

4-pound to 8-pound fluorocarbon or copolymer line are ideal. Monofilament line holds too much memory, which will significantly decrease bite sensitivity, compounded exponentially with variables like wind, waves, current and visibility.

“Sixteenth-ounce jigheads are perfect for where I fish, but you can shoot ‘em up to 1/8 and all the way down to 1/32,” Blankenship said. “Flat jigs like the Live Roam’R and Crappie Shooter skip best, but you can shoot any body style of jig. The Minnow Mind’R does a lot of damage for me at this time of year.”

Jigheads with snug bait keeper collars will help extend a jig’s life expectancy. You can add a dab of super glue to the bait keeper collar before affixing the jig to get added durability. Dock shooting puts a quick toll on poorly shot jigs. Snug bait keepers and glue will help ensure the jig is fish ready on all those well-placed shots.

Bobby Garland Crappie Baits offers three jigheads designed to hold up against the strains of dock shooting.

Forage transition from fry to fingerlings during this time of year allows for a wide range of jig size and body styles.

Bobby Garland’s Itty Bit Series excels during cold fronts and full moons when crappie are finnicky, well-fed or both. “That Itty Bit Slab Hunt’R in the new color Hummingbird has been my go-to,” Blankenship said. “I’ve also been tearing ‘em up big ones with the Live Roam’R in Pecan Cream.”

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