According to guide Doug Youngblood, one of the most-productive patterns crappie fishermen can count on in the dead of winter is targeting boat docks in deep water. 

Youngblood, who hails from Georgia and fishes Lake Hartwell, said that while most crappie fishermen look for brush piles in deep, open water, boat docks can produce huge numbers of fish in a more-protected environment.

“It’s the depth under the dock that attracts crappie,” said Youngblood (770-945-0797).  “If they are located in the right place and have the right depth, that dock is the structure. The fish will lay in the shadows of that dock. They won’t be in the sun; they’ll be laying under that dock. That’s why we’re shooting those jigs up into the shade of those boat docks.” 

Youngblood said that it’s common on likes like Hartwell, with deep, clear water, that cold weather will push crappie under docks. He prefers to fish a long, marina dock or a community dock with multiple boat slips. A dock that covers a lot of water horizontally gives fish a variety of depths to move up or down with the water temperatures.

“Look for those deep docks that are sitting over creek channels; some of them may be sitting right on the edge of the channel,” he said. “They’re anywhere from 20 to 40 feet deep. That’s what you want to look for in the winter: a depth range the fish can use without leaving the dock.”

Youngblood uses a mix of presentations, from fishing vertically into open boat bays to shooting jigs into nooks and crannies at the backs of the docks, to using a long, jig pole to reach open spots. The common factor is a tiny jig fished on light line that is allowed to fall slowly through the water column. The jig is then slowly reeled back through the water column while twitching the tip of the rod.

“I’m using 4-pound line,” he said. “It comes off a spinning reel real good, and I’m using a 1/32-ounce leadhead. I like Bobby Garland Baby Shad crappie jigs. You have to watch the line, both as the jig sinks and as you twitch it back to you. You’ll definitely get more strikes with that light line. You can step up to 6- or 8-, you don’t get near the bites that you’ll get with the 4-pound.”