Docks are bass magnets. Everyone knows that. But when it comes to discussing what makes one dock better than another, the variables are vast. Spend enough time fishing docks, and you’ll definitely put patterns together. So I’d like to note that the info here is only based around one long-standing observation I’ve seen while fishing docks, and it’s pure opinion: I think dock height is often the deciding factor in whether or not you can hook and big bass from under it, and get the fish to the boat. Let me explain.
If you look at the dock in the photo, I bet you think it looks juicy all around. But ask yourself where the biggest bass holding this structure is likely to sit, then remember that a good dock provides the right mix bass vulnerability (are they a relatively easy spot to reach?) and angler ability (can your skills get a bait where it needs to go?). To that point, the optimal height of the platform above the water gets less credit than it’s due. The super-low platforms are awesome because they provide a ton of cover, and ultimately harbor more giants. The problem is that it’s tough to get a bait to the bass under them, and could be even tougher to get the big dude out if you do somehow hook it. On the flip side, higher docks provide less shade and are easy to cast a lure under, but they also tend to hold more mediocre-size, non-dominant, transient bass.
It’s really that middle dock height (like the part of a dock suspended three inches to one foot above the water) that offers the best of both worlds. The big bass living there is provided enough shelter to call the place home, and that bass’s home is accessible when dealt the optimal cast by the savvy dock-fishing angler. And in more cases than not, there’s enough trouble-free room to extract that fish. There will always be exceptions to this rule, but if you play the law of averages, targeting the “right” dock height ups your chances of hooking and landing the resident slob.