Boat Dock Bluegills by Ken McBroom
There are times when the fishing is slow especially during the dog days of summer. Lucky for us who try our luck every chance we get, even at 103 degrees, there is the Bluegill. I can remember as a kid running up and down the dock where my Grandfather resided on his houseboat on Percy Priest Lake in Tennessee. My target was the hundreds of Bluegills readily visible suspended in the shade of the dock and the boats tied up to them. Another attractant around boat docks are the many brush piles created by used up Christmas trees and other brush often times set there by the boat owners who create themselves a great place to fish when the weather is a bit rough or rainy.
My memories of those days come into play many times throughout the year as I search for a boat dock when the fishing is less than good on the main lake. Again the target is Bluegills and it seems as though there are always a few that are ready and willing to step in and turn an otherwise mundane scorcher into loads of fun that at times lets you forget the heat or the reluctance of the other fish to bite.
My favorite technique is using a bobber and a cricket or worm. Sometimes the Gills are lying up against the pillars and the sides of the boats. I tend to move in close to the outside of the dock and pitch my presentation up into the shadiest part of the slip. Between the boat and the dock is a great place but my favorite is the empty slip with a boat on either side of that slip which creates a dark shady hole for the Bluegills to hide. I have found that these open slips give the angler many more feet of fishable dock and less chance of hanging a tie up rope on one of the boats which usually means physically unhooking your rig from the rope and possibly running the Gills out of that slip for several minutes.
You can catch several Bluegills from the same slip but after two or three you will find that the bite has slowed. Move on to the next slip and rest that one as the commotion of catching those fish will tend to send the remaining fish scampering for more relaxing domains. Remember to return to that spot later as there was a reason that the fish were there and they will be back. You can conceivably fish a relatively small dock all day with great success and fun.
Bass love to hang around the docks too so don’t be surprised if upon setting the hook you find yourself battling a huge Largemouth or better yet One of those huge Largemouth bass engulf your cute little Bluegill as you play it to the boat. Many bass cruise these docks for the cover as well as the food and a big bass will find a struggling Bluegill hard to resist. The excitement that is sure to ensue is unfortunately short lived more times than not as you are not A.] Prepared as far as equipment goes and B.] More importantly you are not prepared mentally after playing Bluegills all day to suddenly being attacked by some monster from the shadows. If this hasn’t happened to you yet just keep chasing those Bluegill around the docks and someday it will and when it does don’t be surprised if you are tying up the old bass rod with a little bigger hook and a little bigger bobber and well you get the idea but that will be for another article.
The next time you find yourself on the lake and find that the bite is slow take a cruise to your favorite dock or pull out the map if you are on an unfamiliar lake and locate a marina. You can also search for a road near the lake, which oftentimes will lead you to some private docks that could produce. One other thing before I end this article. I mentioned that my favorite technique is to use a worm or cricket with a bobber. If you want to seriously target some monster Gills try removing the bobber and maybe replacing the worm or cricket with a fat minnow. A Rooster Tail also tends to bring on the big boys; however, a word of caution. When fishing docks without a bobber, be prepared for many hang-ups. Vertical fishing is the best way to combat this problem but often times it can spook some fish. Give it a try but if it doesn’t work you will have to back off and toss your presentation up alongside the structures and allow the bait to slowly fall. This is a great way to catch fillet size Bluegills and as my Momma says the best tasting fish on earth.