Crappie fishing is great fun, and there is nothing like stepping out onto your own boat dock after a long day of work, flicking out a crappie lure and reeling in a big slab for dinner. Bringing those crappie and other fish species to your dock is easy to do. All you need is a healthy environment around your dock area to attract fish.
Dock placement is crucial to fish well being. Place your dock along the beach shoreline of your lake or pond, and extend it far enough that the end of the dock is in deep water, at least 6’ deep. In the winter months, fish will travel into deeper water to stay warm and find the needed oxygen levels to survive.
In certain seasons, the overall water quality in shallow water suffers due to excessive heat and the growth of summer’s sludge layer on the water’s surface. If you have problems with this sludge on the water’s surface year after year or a build up of thick green algae on top of the water, you might need to consider adding aeration products, such as a fountain or bubbler to your pond.
While such a device might keep your dock area free from unattractive green slime, altering the natural environment around your dock can actually be harmful to fish health. Crappie and other fish need the decomposition of organic material like autumn leaves and grasses around the shoreline and dock area to stay healthy.
While crappie fishing might be your guilty pleasure, promoting fish health should be more important to you than keeping your beach shoreline free from algae. Deeper water is best for naturally deterring algae growth, but eventually algae will appear on man made structures such as docks, launch ramps, and swimming platforms. This natural algae is actually what you want in order to draw fish to your dock.
Ways to bring crappie to your dock and keep them there
So, you have your dock built, and you are ready to attract crappie and other fish. You may be wondering how to attract crappie to your dock. There are several methods you can use to attract crappie.
1. Use Fish Lights
One of the easiest ways to attract fish to your dock is by adding lights. Fish lights create reflections on the water that attract bait fish and other water organisms, which the larger fish then feed on. Some game fish, like bluegill and crappie, are also directly attracted to the lights. Most people use green lights around lake docks.
Some other good dock lights for fish include:
- Green Blob Outdoors Underwater Dock Light
- Nite Lite Blue LED dock light
- Mantis Dock Light Kit
- Deep Glow Underwater Dock Light
- Hydro Glow Underwater Dock Light
- Green Glow Dock Light
2. Provide Them Cover
One proven way to draw more fish to your lake dock is by adding cover along the shoreline and dock area. The next time you go fishing, pay attention to where the fish hide. You will notice fish taking advantage of aquatic weeds and brush piles. A healthy lake or pond environment will naturally have one or two trees that have fallen into the water and begun to decay. These trees provide a huge benefit to the marine life in the lake or pond. Not only does the algae growth that forms on decaying wood provide food for insects and microscopic water creatures that small fish feed on, but trees are used by many game fish during spawning season as protection for the nest. Bluegill, bass, and other panfish create nests under old tree trunks and the newly hatched spawn feed on debris formed by the year’s falling leaves.
You can replicate this natural cover around your wooden dock by sinking trees. In some areas, Natural Resources Agencies participate in Christmas tree laying programs, where cement blocks are attached to discarded spruce style trees which are then dropped into deeper water around boat docks and along the shoreline area. As these trees decay, they supply life forms with a great deal of benefits. Fallen trees improve water quality by helping with algae growth which adds valuable oxygen to the water. The algae growing on the tree attracts a larger concentration of minnows and insects to the area. Larger fish collect in this thriving area to feed.
3. Attract Shad and other small bait fish
One popular method to attract fish to your dock is by adding a fish feeder. You can purchase one through Amazon or other sites on the internet. It works by releasing a premeasured amount of fish food at programmed times during the day and night. This helps to attract more bait fish that crappie feed on. If your dock is new or made of creosote treated lumber, you might need to add a fish feeder until the natural algae growth begins to appear on dock pilings.
4. Provide Shade In Summer
Another benefit of a well placed dock is that it will provide the fish with shade in the hot summer months. Even with the absence of direct sunlight, though, water temperatures will be higher around the dock. Fish will continue to need access to deeper water to maintain proper oxygen levels. Docks should always be long enough to provide shade and protection to the fish even in deeper water. Crappie, bluegill, and bass will migrate into cooler, deep water and stay under the cover of wooden docks and overhanging trees. Remember the low pressure period before a cooling storm in summer can provide a great crappie bite as crappie are very attuned to movements in barometric pressure.
5. Melt the Ice in Winter
Ice covering the pond can be hazardous to fish. Freshwater fish need a constant supply of oxygen to survive. A thick coating of ice prevents oxygen from entering the water and allows dangerous waste gases to occur under the ice layer. This can create a fish kill, particularly if your pond is too shallow to allow fish to descend into oxygen rich water. You can drill an air vent hole through the ice or use a heating device to melt the ice in a few areas.
Final thoughts on attracting crappie to your dock
Nothing compares to catching crappie from your own dock, but attracting more crappie and keeping fish healthy is essential for a successful crappie fishing season. Make sure your dock is long enough to provide good shade during hot days, add natural cover through fallen trees and branches, add fish lights to attract baitfish, and keep the water healthy and oxygenated by planting trees along the shoreline and allowing those trees to decay in the pond.