When your get anchored right, bottom fishing gets more productive.
“Right” beats “Close enough” every time. Here are a few tips that
work for me.
Anchoring Tip #1
Swing Your Boat to
get on the Spot.
By trimming your Port trim tab all the
way down, you get more drag on the Port side of your boat. This
will cause your boat to swing to Starboard. Trimming the Stbd. Tab
swings the boat to Port. In both cases, the opposite tab should be
Anchoring Tip #2
Help the Current
for Precise Anchoring.
When wind and tide are at odds, you
can increase the effect of the current by deploying both tabs as far
down as possible. The added drag caused by the trim tabs may be
enough to allow you to get anchored right under otherwise bad
Anchoring Tip #3
Tying a 5 gallon bucket to one or both
stern cleats by short lines will give the current more purchase on
your boat, sometimes allowing comfortable anchoring on a miserable
Anchored sideways in the troughs and
crests is a sure way to assure seasickness among your landlubber
friends. Even the saltiest fisherman is uncomfortable in a rolling
boat. Fore and aft motion is much preferable to side to side.
Anchoring Tip # 4
Use your Line
Most boats come equipped with a Bow
Cleat and 2 line chocks, one on either side of the bow cleat and
generally behind it. Running your line through these chocks directs
the anchor pull to one side of the bow or the other. This allows
you to swing the boat to either side.
By adding additional chocks further
aft, you can increase the arc that you can swing your boat through
while at anchor. In deep water, with several hundred feet of line
out, you can sometimes swing the boat a long distance. This will
allow you to fish over a large area without re-anchoring.
Anchoring Tip #5
Steer your Boat at
Anchor with Rudder of Lower Unit Angle.
When the current is controlling your
boat’s position at anchor, you can often swing the boat a few yards
to one side or the other by steering your lower unit or rudder.
This can also be used to control how the boat drifts when drift
Anchoring Tip #6
Setting and Retrieving your Buoy
First and foremost---You
gotta know current direction. How? Look at a tide table or observe a
buoy or crab trap. If none of these are available, just drop your
buoy on clean bottom and determine how the current is running. This
will chance when the tide turns.
My best advice on
buoying a spot is to try to drop your buoy on the up current edge of
a spot, just off the edge. That is where the best action should be
and the best chance of landing fish is there too. The more active
(read hungry) fish are most often on the up current side of the
rock, reef, or wreck.
I try to head into the
current to set my buoy. This way, I can be sure I am placing it on
the up current side of the rock. With the triangular shaped and very
heavy weight I use, the buoy should not move.
conditions often dictate how your boat will hang at anchor. How your
baits will be affected by the current is totally predictable,
When pulling your buoy,
approach it from down current. If you try to pull the buoy headed
down current, there is a good chance of dragging the weight into the
rock and getting it hung. Always try to haul the buoy straight up
and fast for the first few feet. This will help prevent weight
Anchoring Tip #9
Before you Drop the Hook.
First, know the
direction the current is running. Two, try to factor in the effect
the prevailing wind will have at the time you anchor. If this is
the first time you’ve anchored for the day or since last wind or
tide change, consider a trial run on clean bottom.
Make a quick survey of
the bottom with your depth finder. Pay careful attention to where
your anchor will hit bottom. If you are on an artificial reef, it
would be mighty easy to drop your anchor into a spot where it will
snag. Loosing an anchor can ruin a day or at the very least, be
expensive and time consuming.
Anchoring Tip #10
Flopper Stoppers, Other Uses
Have you ever heard of
"Flopper Stoppers? Doesn’t that name have a nice
ring? I have 2 Flopper Stoppers on Whopper
Flopper Stoppers are
small orange cones, shaped somewhat like traffic cones with very
large lips. They nest so they can be stowed easily.
Flopper Stoppers are
designed to slow down a boats rolling when at anchor. I have used
mine that way exactly once. It only took a few minutes for me to
realize they could serve other functions even better. By stringing
them on a short line and Tying them to my stern
cleats, I can sometimes counter a wind that is overcoming the
current. This makes King fishing so much easier.
Stringing both of them
on the same line, several feet apart and attaching them to one
cleat, I can often swing the boat a few yards. Sometimes that is all
it takes to really get on the fish.
Flopper Stoppers also
make a great, light duty sea anchor. Two will definitely hold your
bow into the wind while drift fishing. One hint here; keep your line
short enough so that they cannot reach your prop in the event you
forget to pull them in before starting to run. You will definitely
know they are out because they make a helluva drag at 40kts.
Anchoring Tip #11
Hauling Your Buoy, FAST!
Sometimes you need
to get your buoy in fast when somebody is running up to get your
spot or you spot a school of fish tearing the water up a quarter
me, casting a rig with a circle hook is
not the easy way to do it.
A one ounce sinker with a couple of 2/0 hooks above it on a heavy
spinning rod will get the job done faster than any method I can
Cast a few feet up
current of your buoy and allow the rig to sink a few feet then just
reel it in. Most of the time I am anchored
within 15' of my buoy so it is a mighty easy job.
This sure beats
having to haul the anchor then go back and pull the buoy.
Anchoring Tip # 12
Alternative to a Thimble for your Anchor Line
I can usually splice a decent "Eye Splice" but I often have a hard
time splicing in a thimble. I am rigging a new rode and instead of
using a thimble, I made a short eye splice in my line. I poked the
double line through the top link in my chain and then dropped the
chain through the loop. This made a neat and strong connection. I'll
check it occasionally and re-splice as needed.
Anchoring Tip # 13
Release Anchor Knot
If you fish in an area where anchoring
is a little hazardous, or when you fish for large and strong fish
and need to follow them in a hurry, this is a knot you need to
In the illustrations below, the anchor
will be at the eye splice and there will be a float on the other end
of the line. It was raining this morning so I had to improvise for
the illustration. The PVC pipe hanger serves as a bow eye for
illustration purposes. I shot the pics
in Sharon’s Kitchen.
Here is how to tie the QUICK RELEASE
First, grasp the anchor line and pass
it doubled through the bow eye as shown below.
Next, grasp the line on the other side
of the bow eye and double it then pass it through the loop formed in
the previous step.
The QUICK RELEASE KNOT is completely
tied in the above step. The pic below
shows the knot cinched up but not completely tightened.
The loose line in the foreground has a
float on the top end. By pulling on the float end, the knot unties
and you can get away from your anchor in an instant.
Anchoring Tip #14
a Cheap Small Boat Anchor
If you need a cheap
small boat anchor, fill a ½ gallon plastic container with concrete.
A rectangular container works best because it will not roll around
in your boat. Heavy gauge plastic containers will prevent scrapes
in your boat for a long time.
I poured my last anchor
in a 100 oz fabric softener bottle. After pouring, I tied a knot in
the end of a piece of ½ inch nylon line and poked it through the
opening of the jug and all the way to the bottom. I put an eye
splice in the other end of the ½” line to tie my anchor line too.
Anchoring Tip #15
to do with the Bitter End of the Anchor Line
It is surprising how
often this question has been posted here. Capt. K says it is
amazing how many anchors he finds with the entire anchor line
attached which indicates that some folks don’t secure the bitter
For your main anchor,
definitely secure the bitter end. Most often, I have secured mine
to the threaded rod that goes to the bow lifting ring. Some boats
have a permanently installed line tie bit inside the anchor locker.
Generally, the anchor line goes from this tie inside the anchor
locker, through a “Hawse Pipe,” through the windlass or out through
an anchor pulpit.
If your boat has a hawse
pipe but lacks a place for a secure connection inside the anchor
locker, tie a large knot (too large to fit through the hawse pipe)
in the bitter end of the anchor line.
A quick release anchor
should have a float on the bitter end of the line. Store a quick
release anchor line in a 5 gallon bucket with drain holes or in a
Anchoring tip #16
Anchoring a Small Boat in Rough Water
If you must anchor a
small boat in rough water, try to use your bow eye as the tie off
point for your line. The lower line angle reduces the pull against
the cleat. This is the perfect place to use the
QUICK RELEASE KNOT.
I don’t think I would want my
anchor line tied to where I could not release it instantly if I were
anchoring a flats boat in rough water.
Anchoring Tip #17
a Grapnel Anchor
I use a grapnel anchor
made with a 1-1/4" shank and 4-3/8" hooks with about 6" radii bends.
My anchors are made of 316 grade
Stainless. On my small boat, I use an anchor with 1" shank and 3/16"
diameter hooks with 4" radius bends.
The key to success with
grapnel anchors is lots of heavy chain. The longer and heavier the
chain, the less anchor line needed.
The light rod for the
hooks allows them to bend and come free if hung. I use an old rod
butt to re-form the hooks after straightening them if they get
If you use a ball to
pull your anchor, you will seldom loose one of these homemade
Anchoring Tip # 18
Better Way to
Rig an Anchor Ball
Everything I have ever read concerning the use of an anchor ball
show photos or drawings of a ball, ring, and about 3 feet of rope
between the ball and the anchor ring.
I've heard many
tales of guys wrapping their anchor line in the prop when using this
rigging. The 3' of line allows your anchor line to slip underneath
the boat where it is in harm's way. This 3' lanyard may be the
reason more folks do not use an anchor ball.
If you eliminate
the 3' lanyard and install the ring around your anchor line, then
attach the ring directly to the ball, the anchor line cannot easily
get into the prop. The ball slides down the side of your boat,
keeping the anchor line on the surface. As the ball goes by, I reach
over, grab the anchor line and take one turn around the cleat and
there is no way I can screw up then.
Yes, I have managed
to get the line in the prop while pulling anchor but I'd bet it
hasn't happened more than once in the last 10,000 times I have
My anchor ball
stays on my anchor line 24/7. Yeah, it is sometimes in the way but
it is NEVER IN THE PROP.
This is, by far,
the fastest and safest method of anchoring and hauling anchor. As
far as I am concerned, for single hand operation, it is the
ONLY way to fly.
Anchoring Tip # 19
Anchoring Using an
Anchor Ball (The Easy Way)
I’ve been using an anchor ball since
before the red plastic balls were invented. At first, I used an
empty Freon can. When the plastic balls were invented, everybody
switched to them and eliminated a lot of rust stains on their boat.
For single hand operation, nothing is
as fast, convenient, or safe as anchoring with an anchor ball.
Frankly, I think I can haul anchor faster than two guys hauling in
the conventional manner. When I drop anchor, I can watch my depth
finder as the boat drifts back and tie off precisely on top of the
Here is how my boat and anchor ball
system is rigged.
Here is how I anchor. The first step
after finding a rock is to determine where the anchor should be
hooked to allow the boat to be positioned over the fish. I drop
anchor from the cockpit as shown below. The engine is in reverse at
idle speed. The anchor ball is not released. The anchor line
slides out through the anchor ball ring.
Continue adding scope until you are
about 2 boat lengths from your buoy and then release the anchor
Secure the anchor line at the spring
line cleat when you are close to your buoy. You can haul or release
more line as needed.
I always rig my anchor system on the
side of the boat closest to the helm. This gives me a better view
of the anchor line while I haul anchor. Turn the wheel to port and
pull ahead. The anchor ball will begin to track down the
Stbd side of the boat as shown in figure
Continue forward and slightly to port
until the ball comes along side. Reach over and grab the anchor
line as the ball passes and secure the anchor line with one wrap
around the stern cleat. No way to foul up now. See drawing 2.
Continue pulling ahead until the
anchor catches in the anchor ball ring. The anchor ball will start
following the boat, creating a large wake. The chain will sink when
the boat stops and the anchor will stay in the ring as you haul.
the boat and haul the anchor and ball back to the boat while
flaking the line on the deck.
Use a ball for a day and you’ll never
go back to the old hand over hand method.
Anchoring Tip # 20
Anchoring in Very Deep Water
I've anchored in
depths greater than 400' when fishing for Tile Fish. It is no great
problem if you are rigged right. I'd like to anchor on the up
current side of the lumps off Venice and fish the edge just to see
if it would work there like it does about everywhere else.
A 12/0 Senator with
an Electra-Mate loaded to the bars with 200# test or heavier
Power-Pro and a heavy solid glass rod with heavy roller guides would
allow you to anchor in 800' or more. You'd need a super heavy duty
rod holder with a massive backing plate mounted far forward. For an
anchor, 2 concrete blocks tied about 10' apart with 1/2" nylon will
work for boats in the 20-30' range. Add about 20' of 300# test mono
leader in front of the Power-Pro. A 2 pass overhand knot (Stopper
Knot) close to the end of the leader will assure that the leader
breaks at that point when you want to break loose. You can break
loose by putting the engine in reverse and tightening the drag on
the reel. You loose the rope and 2 CC blocks each time you
I used 200# mono
and occasionally crushed a reel spool as the line un-stretched. If I
waited 30 minutes to haul the line in, I never had the problem. With
Power-Pro with its low stretch, I doubt seriously if there'd be any
problem with winding the line immediately after breaking off.
avilable up to 275# test. I'm sure it
would easily anchor the Contender 36.
Anchoring tip #21
Don’t Foul Your Anchor
Before dropping anchor (please don't throw it) put engine in
reverse and lower away. Don't just drop it in and let it go,
though. Keep tension on the line until you see that your backward
motion is causing the anchor line and chain angle forward.
If you drop anchor before you are moving backwards, you are just
asking for a fouled anchor because the chain will fall to the
bottom on top of or in front of the anchor and tangle. If the
anchor fouls, it walks. If it walks, sooner or later it is
gonna get seriously hung.
If you insist on using an aluminum anchor, you must remember that
the chain is heavier than the anchor and, of course, sinks faster
causing the anchor to flutter all the way to the bottom. You must
be even more careful when anchoring with an aluminum anchor.
When you are about back to your buoy, bump the engine into
forward, so that you won't pull the anchor loose with the inertia
of the boat.
This is especially important with grapnel anchors.