Kayak Fishing Ultimate Resource

Thursday, 02 May 2013 22:41

Dock Lights 101

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Snook taken on an artificial shrimp Snook taken on an artificial shrimp

Dock light fishing can be one of the most productive patterns for targeting inshore species. Throughout the year, almost the entire cast of inshore players, from snook to grouper, can be found lurking around the lights waiting for an easy meal. This being the case, you can often spot me creeping around dock lights at night, flailing away with fly rod in hand. Fishing the dock lights might not seem overly complicated, but slight changes can improve your catch quantity and quality.

Fish holding near the dock lights are ambush feeders; they wait in the dark, and watch for the bait silhouette to pass between them and the light. While some fish are bold enough to hang out in the light, I have found these to be mostly small schoolie trout. The larger fish hold just beyond the light, in the shadows, facing up and into the current or behind the dock supports. When I approach lights, I dissect each one and picture where the fish are positioned in my mind’s eye. I then break my casts down to three target areas (below)

1- My first casts are made from as far away as possible. I aim for the outside edge of the light. This draws out any hungry fish that might be holding in the center of the light so that they don't "burn" the location when hooked.

2- Next, I drop my lure into the light on the down-current edge and allow it to drift slowly towards the darkness. In my area, large trout seem to dominate this zone. Once again, you can pull these fish away from the light without going through it.

3- Lastly, I pitch towards the dock itself. I try to pick apart each dock support. (Learning to skip cast is important here.) Most of my big fish come from deep under the dock. Big trout, reds, and snook know the advantages of cover and love to head straight back into it when hooked.



Take a look at the pilings holding up a dock or pier at night; shrimp, crabs, and small fish cover them. Mimic these! Small, slow-sinking lures in natural glow or clear have been my top producers. My personal favorites are DOA shrimp (with or without the belly weight), jerk baits rigged weedless, Gulp! shrimp, topwaters, and shrimp or glass minnow flies.

It is rare to find as many species in one location as you will under the lights when the shrimp are running. On a single trip, a friend and I will often catch trout, ladyfish, redfish, bluefish, flounder, snook, and even grouper! They're definitely out there, and you never know what each cast will bring. Go see what you can get into!

Read 9999 times Last modified on Tuesday, 07 May 2013 14:52
More in this category: « Finesse Fishing Tips Surgeons Knot »


# smj190 2013-05-03 15:14
Great article. Thank you very much for posting!
# Pink Bopper 2013-05-03 21:45
Your article was wonderful! Great job (:

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