What's hot: Docks in residential canals have produced the best action recently. Many fish retreat to deeper canals in cold water conditions, seeking warmth from the heat radiated off concrete seawalls. Dock pilings also offer protection from larger predators such as dolphins. Typical catches include redfish, sheepshead, trout, flounder and an occasional snook.
Technique: Artificial lures should be worked very slowly and close to the bottom. Jigs can even be dragged across the bottom with excellent results. Most fish in canal systems feed on small crabs and shrimp, so imitate their behaviors. Shrimp are the easiest live bait around docks. They can be free-lined so they swim naturally, or you can add a small lead. Knocker rigs with a one-eighth ounce egg sinker will improve casting accuracy.
Location, location: Some docks consistently produce better than others. Look for canals with sailboats, which indicates deeper water. Search for docks with multiple clusters of pilings or tie poles. Target older docks with the most barnacle growth. Rock-lined seawalls also add a dimension of structure and should never be overlooked.
Brent Gaskill runs Summer Vacation Charters out of the St. Petersburg area and can be reached at [email protected] and (727)510-1009.