Put a bull’s eye on docks
Getting a bait back under a pier or boathouse is important to reach crappie that position themselves back in the shade under the cover of a platform or boat parked in a slip.
Nichols starts on the edge of the pier and works his way from spot to spot, moving farther back under the pier as he goes. "You want to fish the edge first to catch the more aggressive fish that will be out there. But to fish a dock thoroughly, you need to be able to cast up under it to they’re holding back in the shade."
Nichols likes to fish a 1/32nd-ounce jighead and a Charlie Fox hair jig. He’ll vary the colors in clear or dirty water, going with more whites in clear and brighter colors in cloudy water. "I like red/pearl, red/white, red/chartreuse, blacak/chartreuse and green/chartreuse," said Nichols, who’ll drop down to a 1/16th-ounce jighead when the water is dirty and he needs a bait with a bigger profile the crappie can more-easily see, or when it’s windy. He’ll go to a soft-plastic mini-jig when he goes up in size on his jighead.
To get their baits back under the dock, Neeley and Nichols use a flick of their rods’ tips, close to the water, to skip the jig. Neither of them go with the short, ultra light rods used to bow-and-arrow "shoot" jigs back up under docks, choosing the control of the 5-foot rods.
"You’ll catch a lot of quarter- and half-pound fish around the outside of the piers, but those bigger fish will be under the dock, around any walkdowns," he said. "You let it drop to the bottom and fish it all the way up. You’ll feel him peck it."
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