Why Shoot Docks During A Drought?

with Darrell Baker by John Phillips

Editor’s note: Darrell Baker of Centre, Alabama, has been fishing and guiding on Weiss Lake for 40 years. The state of Alabama had one of the worst droughts that we’ve ever seen this past year. When we went fishing in the middle of November with the lake 6 feet below normal pool, I was surprised when Baker said, “The first thing we’re going to do is shoot docks.”


As Darrel Baker’s boat went down almost to the end of the boat ramp, all I could see, except for the small stream of water near the boat ramp, were docks out of water. Shooting docks is a technique that crappie fishermen use to force their jigs to travel from 10 yards to often 30 yards underneath the dock. To give the jig energy to travel that far low to the water, a right-handed angler will hold his rod in his right hand, and let out about two to three feet of line with a jig attached to the end of the line. Then hold the jig between his thumb and his index finger on this left hand, and pull the rod tip down as he pulls the jig back. When the rod is almost at its breaking point, he releases the jig at almost the same time he straightens his index finger on his right hand, which is holding the line. This action causes the jig to fly from the angler’s fingertips far back under the dock where crappie are often hiding. Using a slow, steady retrieve, he catches the crappie under the dock where many other anglers don’t fish.

tip1-bI asked Baker, “Are there any docks that are not going to be out of the water?” He said, “John, I’ve got one dock that sits right on the edge of a deep water drop-off. There’s about two or three feet of water under this dock, and the crappie will come out of the deep water, move under the dock and wait for bait fish to come by. Then they feed on them. The real secret to shooting docks, when you have a winter draw down or a drought, is to find the docks that are sitting right on the edge of deep water. Some of the docks that I shoot, at this time of the year, will have three to eight feet of water in front of the dock and partially back under the dock. The water temperature is in the mid-60s. So, the crappie know they have to feed-up for the cold weather that is fast approaching. If you can locate docks like this, you’ll often find good numbers of crappie holding under them.

Baker’s equipment includes: 1.5-inch Crème Lit’l Fishie; Southern Pro Stinger Shad; 6-pound Gamma Hi-Vis line; BnM 5.5-foot BnM Sharp Shooter rod. To contact Baker: weisslakecrappieguides.com; 256-557-0129; Darrell@weisslakeguides.com.

To learn more about how to fish for crappie: http://johninthewild.com/books/#crappie