Dock Shooting

Hold on...don't break out any type of firearms. Dock shooting is "Specialized Crappie Fishing Strategy", made popular by crappie fishing pro, Wally Marshall.

Marshall has learned some hard lessons during a lifetime of crappie fishing. One of the toughest dates back to 1989, when he entered a crappie tournament on Lake Wylie in the Carolinas.

It was two years after he won the first crappie tournament ever held in Texas, a Crappiethon USA event on Cedar Creek Lake. Marshall wade fished his way to the winner’s circle at Cedar Creek targeting spawning crappie around shoreline cattails using a long rod jigging technique he calls “Wally-socking.”

There weren’t any cattails to Wally-sock at Lake Wylie, but there were hundreds of boat docks and piers ripe for a technique called “shooting”, a technique eastern anglers were using to place their baits under boat docks and piers.

He heard about dock-shooting, but didn't know how to do it. To put it in his own words, his performance was "downright ugly".

He brought the dock-shooting experience back to Texas and perfected the technique.

Dock shooting can be used from spring to fall. It's not limited to crappie, but many the skilled bass anglers use a similar technique to get their lure up under docks.

“There doesn’t have to be bunch of docks for it to work, either,” he said. “An isolated dock can be money if it’s in the right place.”

Bait fish such as minnows, shad and small perch gravitate to docks to feed, seek shelter and hide from larger predators. Like bass, crappie take advantage of the shade to ambush unsuspecting forage. The fish also are attracted to the cooler water beneath the canopy, and the dock shooting tactic is ideal for getting at them.

Presentation of the lure or bait is what's important. He is usually using a 1/16 or 1/32 ounce jig, paired with a medium/light spinning outfit and high visibility monofilament line in 4-6 pound test. Done correctly, Marshall says shooting will catapult the jig at a low angle, parallel to the water, with enough velocity that it will sail far beneath the dock or whatever you’re aiming at.

The dock shooting process:
1.) Release enough line so the jig falls between the bottom rod guide and the reel. Trap the line against the rod with the index finger on your rod hand. Grip the jig head firmly between the index finger and thumb on your free hand. Make sure the exposed hook is turned downward.
2.) Point the rod tip at the target dock with the line and jig parallel to the water. This will cause the rod to bend or load backwards, sort of like a bow and arrow. You might want to sit or kneel to get a lower angle.
3.) Release the jig and trapped line simultaneously. This causes the loaded rod tip to spring forward and sling-shot the bait towards the target.
Marshall claims he can shoot a 1/16 ounce Slab Daddy or Shad Pole jig about 60 feet with the right outfit.

Marshall says anyone can learn to shoot docks effectively with practice and persistence. Beginners can learn in their yard or driveway by sitting in a lawn chair and using a sawhorse positioned 15-20 feet away to simulate the dock. Practice with a 1/16 ounce lead weight. Practice until you can consistently shoot the weight under the sawhorse from varied distances.

A sensitive rod is a key component. His favorite is a 7 foot, medium/light action spinning model he helped design specifically for shooting for Lew’s. Fittingly, the rod is called the “Speed Shooter.” It’s made from sensitive IM8 graphite with a fast-tip action tip. The rod sells for around $45.

Not surprisingly, Marshall has caught a boat load of crappie shooting his jigs into places where the sun doesn’t shine. With the Texas summer on us, those fish are seeking a place to get out of the sun just like we are. Shooting a jig up under a dock or pier could make a big difference in your catch rate.


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Fishing Report from TPWD (Mar. 15)

FAIR. Water lightly stained; 63-69 degrees; 0.67 feet above pool. Bass are good with the best bite using a shimmy shaker and big eyed jigs in shallow waters. Crappie are good shallow, on the timber and under the bridges on minnows and jigs. White bass are scattered but best on the points with crankbaits. Catfish are very good on baited holes in 20 feet, and under deeper boat houses on nightcrawlers. Report by Ricky Vandergriff, Ricky’s Guide Service.

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