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How to Fish the Toughest Lake in America with Adam McClellan

Where Does Shooting Docks Pay Off Besides Lake Lanier?

Click to enlargeEditor's Note: Adam McClellan of Cumming, Georgia, fishes the toughest lake in America just outside Atlanta - Lake Lanier. "The water clarity on Lake Lanier during the summer months sometimes exceeds 7 feet," McClellan says. Lanier is a major recreational lake with plenty of water skiers, jet skiers, boaters and other outdoor water recreation activities that can and does interfere with fishing. This week, we'll see how McClellan not only fishes this lake, but also successfully catches fish. Adam and his father, Stokes McClellan, fish the Southern Crappie Association tournaments, as well as the Crappie USA tournaments.

Question: Will shooting docks produce crappie on other lakes besides Lanier? McClellan: Yes, dock shooting will work on any lake. On professional crappie-fishing circuits, there are teams of anglers who only shoot docks and don't fish any other way - no matter the season or the lake they're fishing. One of these teams has won the Southern Crappie Angler's Tournament consecutively for the past three years - Randy Pope and Jerry Pruett of Hickory and Vail, North Carolina. Click to enlarge

Question: Is shooting docks just a clear-water tactic?
McClellan: No, dock shooters use this tactic regardless of the color of water. In muddy water, some anglers shoot docks to catch crappie. The real key is finding docks that have deep water close to them. Even in lakes where there are only 4 or 5 feet of water around a dock, if there's deep water close, dock shooting will pay off. During the spring of the year, in spawning season, those crappie move into shallow docks. However, they won't hold in them all year long like they will on the docks that are in deep-water with drop-offs.

Question: What type of dock is a year-round dock?
McClellan: A year-round dock will be a wooden one. At Lake Lanier, all of our docks have to be floating ones, which is a dock that's built on wooden pilings in deep water. I define deep-water as 20 feet or more deep. There will be some sort of other structure that makes the dock effective, like a point in deep water, an old creek channel that comes into the dock or a river ledge that runs beside the dock. These factors are all ones that help a dock produce year-round. What the crappie are looking for is the cover and the shade that the pier provides close to deep water that they can use as a highway to go back and forth from one section of the lake to the other. A good dock is like a convenience store sitting on the edge of a major highway where the crappie can stop to eaClick to enlarget and then get back on the highway to go wherever they want. This major highway is the route they use to move from deep water to a spawning area and then back to deep water again.
Typically, these types of docks support good populations of crappie throughout the year.

Question: Are you shooting floating docks on Lanier?
McClellan: That's right.

Question: How long does that tactic last?
McClellan: So far, I've been able to shoot docks on Lake Lanier all
year long. Remember, Lake Lanier is a deep lake. We have docks that are
25-feet deep all year long, and even though the dock may only extend 35 feet from the bank, it's still sitting over deep water. Most docks on this lake are on wheels with winch cables, so they can move forward and backward to adjust to the rising and the falling water. These docks are fishable all year long. The winter months may be tougher than the spring, summer or fall months. When you have docks that provide shade and food for crappie over deeClick to enlargep water, the crappie can position themselves where they want to be in that water column at any time of the year. We generally can catch crappie from February through November around the floating docks at Lanier.

Question: What effect does having cover under or near that dock have on your ability to catch crappie? McClellan: Cover is tremendously important. Here, on Lake Lanier, very few piers or docks don't have cover under or near them. The cover can be as small as one Christmas tree that was sunk 2 or 3 years earlier. But, the cover may be a large amount of brush or possibly a sunken boat. When you're fishing floating pilings like we fish on Lake Lanier, very rarely will you find cover under them. The key to catching crappie on floating docks is to realize that the crappie are there pretty much because of the shade and the dock's ability to attract baitfish. Anytime you can find cover related to shade or under shade, you have a hot dock to shoot for crappie.

Tomorrow: Stripers on Deep Clear Lakes

Check back each day this week for more about "How to Fish the Toughest Lake in America with Adam McClellan "

Day 1: How to Shoot a Dock
Day 2: How to Fish the Jig
Day 3: How to Pick a Dock to Shoot and What Time to Shoot Docks
Day 4: Where Does Shooting Docks Pay Off Besides Lake Lanier?
Day 5: Stripers on Deep Clear Lakes


Entry 364, Day 4