Wintertime Docking. Fishing the docks is a great way to put some fish in the boat this time of year. Mangrove snapper, sheepshead, snook, redfish, trout and flounder are just a few of the species you can expect to catch. Another great reason to fish docks is that you can usually find docks out of the wind when it's really blowing and you don't have to run across the bay to fish. Docks are great places to fish for one reason — variety.
Bait. When fishing the docks, I like to present baits in a few different ways until I find out what works best for that specific day. Free-lined baits and baits under a cork can work very well, but my two favorite rigs for dock fishing are a shrimp on a jighead or a live bait rig with a split shot about a foot up the line. Remember that the water is very clear this time of year so scale down your tackle. I use hooks even as small as size 1 and fluorocarbon leader in the 10-20 lb. class. Long accurate casts can be the difference between picking at them all day and slayin' 'em.
Where. Our region has several great concentrations of docks to fish. First, we have the two rivers, the Alafia and the Little Manatee. Both offer plenty of great docks to fish. The Apollo Beach area is also littered with great docks, many in deep water, that are great producers of quality fish this time of year.
Not all docks are created equal, though. There is no doubt that if you just fish dock after dock till your time is up, you will catch fish, but fishing only select docks can be more productive. I like to fish docks that have at least two secondary fish-attracting attributes to them. Those benefits can include lots of oysters or barnacle growth, structure under docks, docks on points, docks on channel edges, docks with grass flats nearby, docks with dock lights, and the list goes on. If you have time constraints, only fish docks that will help you be more productive.