He only had about a 6-inch clearance between the bottom of the dock and the surface of the water, but that didn't stop him from expertly hooking the giant sac-a-lait that inhaled his jig as it bounced around in the shadows beneath the dock.
After adding this one to the others already lying motionless on the ice, Pizzolato flipped his jig back in the same place and repeated the same scenario over and over again. We would eventually flip our way to 22 fish for the day.
"My grandson Jonathon and I got on this pattern a few days ago," Pizzolato told me. "Just this last weekend, we wound up over on some of these docks after fishing some of our favorite places without catching much. And when I tell you it was one fish after another, that's the truth. We landed 35 really nice sac-a-lait by flipping these docks."
Pizzolato says the key to catching sac-a-lait by flipping the docks is to pay more attention to the shade than you do the dock. As the shade slides from one side of the dock to the other, sac-a-lait move with it.
"Flip under the dock into the shaded area with a light jighead and let the bait fall slowly," Pizzolato said. "And as it's falling down, keep you eye on the line. If it curls up, set the hook because your line's going to curl up for one of two reasons... your bait's either landed on top of something or a fish has it in its mouth."
Since there is so little room for error under the docks, Pizzolato says it's important to have an avenue of escape. In other words, leave yourself room to set the hook either to your right or your left so you don't break your rod by slamming it into the bottom of the dock."
The more docks we fished, the more it became apparent that finding the right distance from the dock was paramount to a successful flip under it. The closer we were to the dock, the more difficult it was to maneuver our rods. The farther away we were, the more difficult it was to put our jigs in the right places.
"I would say the more difficult a dock is to fish, the more fish you're going to catch under it," Pizzolato concluded. "We caught most of our fish today under one dock, but we could have really put some fish in the box if we would have wanted to fight the wind and get our baits under some of the lower docks."