John's Journal...

How to Fish the Toughest Lake in America with Adam McClellan

How to Shoot a Dock

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: What else makes Lake Lanier so tough to fish?
McClellan: I'm a tournament crappie angler. Crappie like structure. When the water drops down, as it does in the summertime on Lanier, there's hardly any natural cover to which the fish can relate. Click to enlarge

Question: How are you catching crappie at this time of year in a deep clear lake with an unusually-high amount of boat pressure?
McClellan: I'm shooting docks for crappie.

Question: What does shooting docks mean, and how do you do it?
McClellan: Shooting docks is more difficult to describe than it is to show. This technique of crappie fishing is much like shooting a bow and arrow, which means you have to aim and time the release of the string. To effectively shoot docks, you have to use a short highly-flexible lightweight rod. I use the B'n'M SharpShooter rod. B'n'M has three models between 4-1/2- and 5-feet long. I like the 5-foot SharpShooter with a lightweight spinning reel in the 1,000 to 2,000 series. This is an open-face spinning reel that I spool up with 4-pound-test line. The line I use is Bass Pro Shops Mr. Crappie Hi-Vis Line that comes in a bright-gold or yellow color, and stronger than 4-pound-test line. To effectively use this technique, you have to be able to see your line.

Question: What jigs are you using?Click to enlarge
McClellan: I like a painted lead head in the 1/32-ounce jig, if I'm using a plastic jig body. I like the Diamond Flash Spike-It grubs if I'm fishing plastic baits. I think the reflective flakes in the body of these grubs areespecially effective in clear water. On a bright sunny day, I believe the flakes inside the Spike-It grubs give off a flash that crappie can see to find the bait. I also use the Spike-It 1/24-ounce Superfly in lighter colors on bright days. I like the white, pink and blue ice colors in the Diamond Flash series for summertime fishing.

Question: What kind of pier do you like to shoot?
McClellan: I like an older pier or a dock that has a roof over it. The roof provides a lot of shade for the crappie to hide. Once I find the kind of dock I want to shoot, I get as close as I can, hold the rod in my casting hand, open the bail on the spinning reel and hold the line with my index finger. I leave about 6 inches of line from the end of the rod to the jig. With my other hand, I take the jig between my index finger and my thumb, with the hook pointing away froClick to enlargem me. I pull down on the jig, bending the rod until it's shaped like a C, which is called loading the rod. Next, I hold the rod as close as I can to the surface of the water. When I'm ready to shoot the dock, I aim the jig at the spot I want to hit. I release the jig a fraction of a second before I release the line, so that the jig springs forward toward the tip of the rod. Just before it gets to the tip, I release the line with my index finger, causing the line to come off the reel with the full force of the rod as it springs forward. If you shoot correctly, the jig will hit the surface of the water at a very-low angle. When it first touches the water, instead of sinking, the jig will skip often as much as 10 to 12 feet under the dock, which is further than you can cast. The best piers I've found on Lake Lanier are those where there aren't any boats or jet skis that have been sitting in the water for an extended period. Under those docks, the crappie have shade, the water's quiet, and they aren't being disturbed. The further under the dock that I can shoot the jig, the more fish I'll catch.

Tomorrow: How to Fish the Jig

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 1