Doodle-socking

Simple lures work best in doodle-socking, but modern lures like frogs and jigs with trailers also produce bass.

Bass fishing on its basic level; no modern technology required

Hijacking is a fairly ominous term. Officially it means “the crime of using force or threats to take control of something like an aircraft, ship, car, etc.

But in the shallow waters of Louisiana’s lakes, bayous and rivers, it means taking control of bass — usually bass that are hard to get to any other way. Commonly called “doodle-socking,” it’s an old technique for catching bass that is unlike the high-end technology laden bass fishing that we are used to today.

In fact, it’s about as low-end as you can get when it comes to needed equipment.

All you need is a 10-12-foot-long stiff fiberglass pole, about 8-10 inches of heavy line and some sort of jig, spinner or small topwater lure that you can poke back into the bushes and under the hard-to-reach spots on boat docks and brush piles.

Wesley Miller holds up a hijacked bass that was pulled from a hard-to-reach spot.

Ice chest full

“Back when organized bass tournaments started in the late 70’s, I had a neighbor who only bass fished by hijacking,” said fishing guide Wesley Miller. “He would show up on Saturday morning, slide his 12-foot johnboat off the roof of his Volkswagon van and hit the water. He won every event he entered. In fact, it was funny. He always showed up with a six-pack of beer in his ice chest and his hijacking gear. By the end of the day, his beer was gone and the ice chest would be full of big old bass. Back in those days the limit was 10, so he’d just tell the tournament folks to pick them out and weigh them.”

Miller went on to say that folks in their fancy bass boats, multiple rods and reels and big old tackle boxes didn’t take kindly to his domination. The second year of the tournament season, his friend was met by a youngster in the parking lot with a new list of rules saying rods could only be 8-feet long and must have a working reel.  

Miller’s neighbor depended on one major bait that cost about 30 cents back in the day. He would take a set of treble hooks and tie it on his braided line. He would then take a silicone spinnerbait skirt (the kind you find on an H&H) and put it over the hooks. That’s the bait. His favorite colors are black and yellow or black and white. That gives the fish both ends of the color spectrum, so it works in most any conditions.

Wesley Miller shows a simple but effective old-fashioned hijacking lure.

“I’ve followed him up and down the creek and watched and it’s amazing how many fish he can catch that way,” Miller said. “He doesn’t talk about it to many people. He just goes out and catches fish and comes home with no hoopla.”

Figure eight

Depending on how aggressive the fish are, you can just jig or splash the bait around, but the most effective technique is to get the bait up in the brush with enough room to splash it around in a figure eight motion.

“When the fish chase it down and get the bait, they just explode on it,” Miller said. “You better be ready.”

To be an effective hijacker, you have to match your boating gear to the technique. The only good way to do it is fish from an aluminum boat, sit in the front seat and scull with a paddle as quietly as possible. If you spook the fish, you won’t catch them, just like with other techniques.

Other baits that will work include frogs, jigs with or without trailers and topwater baits. For topwater baits, anglers sometimes remove the back set of hooks to keep the lure from hanging as easily. The way fish hit on a hijack, they eat the whole bait, so they are going to get the front hooks.

A 1961 article on doodle-socking from Don Fuelsch’s Southern Angler’s and Hunter’s Guide. (Photo courtesy bass-archives.com)

Best times to hijack include in the spring when bass are shallow for the spawn or when the water is high and fish are moving back up in the bushes. But it works well anytime, you just have to be patient and practice getting the bait into small holes way up in the structure.

One final hijacking tip

Because you are fishing a long pole with a short line, you have to get the fish out of the brush as soon as possible without horsing it too much. As the fish gets in the clear, you just walk your way down the pole with your hands and hold it straight up and down, easing the bass to the boat. It’s important to wait until the fish stops flopping or jumping before you bring it to your hand or net so that you won’t break the end of the fishing pole.

Most anglers today would scoff at such a technique, but if you want to catch bass in a fun new way — and catch lots of bass in a fun new way — then go old school and try doodle-socking. Miller said it still catches fish, but most anglers that do it won’t talk about it much. In a day when it’s almost impossible to keep secrets, this one’s still pretty secure. 

About Kinny Haddox 595 Articles
Kinny Haddox has been writing magazine and newspaper articles about the outdoors in Louisiana for 45 years. He publishes a daily website, lakedarbonnelife.com and is a member of the Louisiana Chapter of the Outdoor Legends Hall of Fame. He and his wife, DiAnne, live in West Monroe.