dock shoting/lake kinkaid

Russ Bailey admires crappie caught in the marina at Lake Kinkaid using technique called dock shooting.

Other than an occasional ice-fishing trip, most fishing gear is stored at the beginning of hunting season.  It is does not come out until time to prepare for spring.

South of St. Louis, occasionally crappie anglers appear on open water in winter.

Illinois average crappies reach a weight of about a quarter pound by their third year of life.  By the fifth year they are one half to three quarters of a pound.  The average creel contains fish that are three years of age.  Larger fish are older and usually seem to come from further south due to milder temperatures and longer feeding periods.

Maneuvering the boat just off a dock housing pontoon boats, Russ Bailey explains how the metal of the tubes can warm the surrounding water by a degree or two.  This is as important in cold weather as are sunny areas between docks and piers.  An expert in dock shooting, Russ begins to probe the areas between boat and dock.

Dock shooting is a finesse technique that allows one to place a small jig or Road Runner under tight structure where crappies seek refuge from the sun and find warmer water in winter.

It requires a 100% graphite rod with a solid backbone.  The rod must have the right flexibility.  Bailey’s 5 1/2 foot Sharpshooter rod from BnM Fishing has the ability to move the cork handle to a position most comfortable for him.  In case the guides begin to ice up in very cold weather, he sprays a little Reel Magic on them.  Bailey uses six-pound Hi Vis line.

Finding a comfortable stance, Russ points the rod at the spot he believes fish to be lurking.  Then holding the lure in one hand he bends the rod down in an arc before letting go.  Sounds simple but it takes a special rod and practice to master the technique.

In winter, Russ seeks pontoon boats moored in marinas.  The aluminum of a pontoon boat warms faster than other materials such as fiberglass.

“I have found different size fish under each of the tubes of the same pontoon boat,” exclaims Russ.  One tube might attract small fish while the other tube might have lunker crappie residing beneath it.  Bailey stresses that you never know until you catch a couple exactly what size fish are lurking under a specific tube.

As a tip, Russ points out the cobwebs between boat and dock are a location where no one has fished recently.  He also uses a float when fishing a jig but not when using the Road Runner.  The Road Runner drops down with the blade fluttering like a wounded minnow.

The float Russ uses is an ice fishing one.   It must be small but barely able to suspend the jig at a depth desired.  The type of float that is large at the top and tapers toward the end of the line is Bailey’s preference.

As the float to settles into position, Bailey watches for any sudden change in its position as an indication of a bite.  The float sink beneath the surface or it might just tip over.  The first indicates a fish is taking it to the bottom while the second tells you that a fish took it and is moving toward the surface.  Any side movement also indicates it is time to set the hook on a fish.



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