dock alternatives - a stump in the water

A dock is an iconic largemouth bass location. These above-water overhangs provide shade, cover, and security, making them hot spots on all water bodies. The fact that docks are easy to find can create a double-edged-sword scenario, however, and on busy body of water docks are fished frequently — much to the chagrin of largies and landowners alike.

The good news is there are heaps of other structures created by human hands that largemouth like. Here is a sampling of dock alternatives.

Stumpy plots
Stump fields offer a glimpse back to a time when land existed where now there’s water. The flooding of areas is typically linked to damming and water control projects. Clearing trees before raising water levels was a common practice; the submerged stumps remain as signposts of the bygone era.

For largemouth, stump fields are a playground. They provide plenty of cover and hiding places. In bright sun bass will often hunker down in the woody shade. In low light conditions they’ll hunt in the timber maze. When bass are active, covering water with crankbaits, swimbaits, and spinnerbaits is a good strategy. During their less rambunctious times, going vertical and flipping a jig to a stump or casting a stickbait, like a Senko, are better approaches.

A quack-tastic construct
While exploring back bays and marshes, I’ve stumbled on several abandoned duck blinds that held huge bass. Some of these forsaken structures remain in their original location, while others have been relocated by ice and wind.

Orphaned duck blinds have a post-apocalyptic feel to them. They’re weather-beaten and gnarly. Largemouth see them differently though, and are drawn to the overhead cover and ambushing advantage that these rundown hunting hangouts offer.

There are many ways to fish a blind. A lot depends on its location and surrounding water depth. Odds are though that casting a frog to the perimeter or pitching a jig into its shaded water will catch bass.

Hidden treasures
Underwater infrastructure is a broad category of artificial largemouth habitat. Tamed rivers and reservoirs are ripe with examples, such as bridge pilings, fences, road beds, and sunken boats.

A fascinating thing about underwater structures is that technology makes them easier to find than ever before. Cutting-edge sonar with side- and down-scanning/imaging abilities will display these constructs in vivid detail. An underwater camera is handy, too, for sleuthing around areas that a traditional sonar shows as holding irregular features.

Here are some tactics to use in these types of areas:

  • use search lures like cranks or spinnerbaits;
  • go vertical with a drop-shot rig; or
  • try dragging a football-jig-and-creature combination along bottom and over structure foundations.

Got rocks?
Largemouth love rocks and human engineering projects provide them with plenty of choice.

Rip-rap is a common addition to water systems to combat shoreline erosion and bolster infrastructure, like culverts, roads, and marina areas. A rock crib, a remnant from logging days, is another stellar type of structure.

Rip-rap and cribs are good on their own, but I prefer sections bolstered with weeds, timber, or other cover. Same goes, too, for the rock’s terminal point, which creates a bottom-composition edge that frequently holds bass.

Rocks can be craggy lure-eaters. Choose baits carefully. A square-billed, floating crankbait will deflect off and dodge hang-ups well. Working a spinnerbait, a lipless crankbait, or a jerkbait above the stones also works. When bass are fussy, try casting rock ledges with a Texas-rigged stickbait; it’s lightweight and less apt to bury itself in crevices.

Of course, this is just a sampling of other available alternatives to docks, and a reminder that docks aren’t the only game in town when it comes to artificial bass-holding structures. To put more buckets in your landing net this season, give docks a break and try the numerous other human-made structures dotting the waterways.