Boat Dock Bluegills

boat dock bluegills

Boat Dock Bluegill Fishing Tips

There are times when the fishing is slow, especially during the dog days of summer, but there is a place that often produces even on the hottest days. Try a boat dock for bluegills. I can remember as a kid running up and down the dock where my grandfather resided on his houseboat. My target was the hundreds of bluegills readily visible suspended in the shade of the dock and the boats tied to them. Another attractant around boat docks are the many brush piles created by used up Christmas trees and other brush. The brush is placed there by the boat owners. It creates a great place to fish when the weather is bad.

Hairy Cricket Jig

My memories of those days come into play many times throughout the year as I search for a boat dock when the fishing is slow on the main lake. Again, the target is bluegills and there are always a few that are ready and willing to step in and turn an otherwise mundane scorcher into loads of fun that at times lets you forget the heat.

Big Bluegill Fishing With Bobbers

My favorite technique is using a bobber and a cricket or worm. Sometimes the bluegills are lying up against the pillars and the sides of the boats. I tend to move in close to the outside of the dock and pitch my presentation up into the shadiest part of the slip. Between the boat and the dock is a great place, but my favorite is the empty slip with a boat on either side. This creates a dark shady hole for the bluegills to hide. These open slips give the angler many more feet of fishable dock and less chance of hanging a tie up rope on one of the boats. Hanging up means physically unhooking your rig from the rope or dock. This spooks the bluegills out of that slip for several minutes.

Catch Bluegills Around Boat Docks All Day

You can catch several bluegills from the same boat dock, but after two or three you’ll find that the bite has slowed. Move on to the next slip and rest that one. The commotion of catching those fish will send the remaining fish scampering for more relaxing domains. Remember to return to that spot later. There was a reason that the fish were there and they will be back. You can fish a relatively small dock all day with great results.

Boat Dock Bluegill Tackle

The best bluegill tackle for boat dock bluegills is a simple spinning rod and reel setup. Spool your reel with six to eight-pound test line. A split-shot above a small panfish hook is perfect for crickets and worms. A bobber helps keep your presentation above the dock cables and brush below. Bluegills also love to suspend under boat docks. Adjusting the depth of your presentation is easy with a bobber that can be adjusted up and down the line. A bobber also gives you a visual indicator and what’s better than watching a bobber go under with the weight of a bluegill?

Bass Love Bluegill Around Boat Docks

Bass love to hang around the docks as well. Don’t be surprised when setting the hook that you find yourself battling a big largemouth bass after it has engulfed the bluegill at the end of your line, as you play it to the boat. Many bass cruise docks for the cover and available food. A big bass will find a struggling bluegill hard to resist. The excitement is real, but unfortunately short lived. More times than not because of the light panfish tackle. If this hasn’t happened to you yet just keep chasing those bluegills around the docks and someday it will. To catch a few of these boat dock bass try rigging up the old bass rod with a little bigger hook and a little bigger bobber. You get the idea, but that’s for another article.

Find Boat Docks With Have Bluegills Around Them

The next time you find yourself on the lake and the bite is slow take a cruise to your favorite dock or pull out the map if you’re on an unfamiliar lake and locate a marina. You can also search for a road near the lake. These roads often lead you to a few private docks that could produce.

Before long you will have enough boat docks that you can move with the fish. This is especially true on large bodies of water like my home waters of Kentucky Lake and Barkley Lake. Boat dock bluegill anglers have always known to move from South to North in order to catch spawning bluegills for a longer period of time. By starting where the water temps rise first you can catch the bluegills while they spawn and move north when the spawn slows in that area. 

Bait For Bluegill

If you want to seriously target some monster bluegills around boat docks try removing the bobber and replace the worm or cricket with a fat minnow. A Rooster Tail also tends to bring on the big bluegills. One word of caution. Hang-ups are common when fishing for boat dock bluegills without a bobber. Vertical fishing is the best way to combat this problem. Give it a try. If fishing vertical doesn’t work you may have to back off and toss your presentation up alongside the docks. Allow the bait to slowly fall. This is a great way to catch fillet size bluegills and as my mom says, the best tasting fish on earth.

I mentioned that my favorite technique is to use a worm or cricket with a bobber. Another great technique for boat dock bluegill is to cast a small jig on light line. Small bluegill jigs work great for catching bluegills around boat docks. Jigs, like my Hairy Cricket Jig, is the perfect presentation for bluegills and redear that live and spawn around boat docks. My favorite way to fish these small jigs is to cast them along the sides of boat docks known to have bluegill and redear around them. Over time you will build a list of boat docks that produce and sometimes areas with boat docks where there is always bluegills hanging out. I always try to add a few docks to my list each spring.

Check out Popping for Bluegills…

About Ken McBroom 307 Articles
Ken McBroom is an accomplished outdoor writer and photographer. Growing up in Lynchburg Tennessee allowed him many opportunities afield as a boy and young man. Later in life, after Desert Storm, Ken’s wanderlust took him to Alaska to live and work and experience the last frontier. Married now with two beautiful children, Ken now calls Kentucky home where he continues to communicate our American outdoor traditions and the lifestyle it offers.