BoatUS ANGLER: Do It Yourself Department

Anchoring For Anglers

by Keith Walters
Photo of a mushroom anchor on a boat

The main use for an anchor - besides safety - is to place the boat over, or near, structure or bottom that holds fish.

“Not necessarily so,” says Joe Bassboat, “I can do the same thing with my bow-mounted electric motor.” And, so he can, and he can have some mobility around the structure, but ‘ol Joe is constantly working. Sadly, many folks who use the electric motors don’t carry an anchor; if they have a breakdown, they could drift all the way across the creek, river, or lake to a place where they’d be hard to find.

It’s my belief that all anglers should carry an anchor suitable to their craft and to the type of fishing they do. I have a mushroom anchor tied to a 50-foot 1/4-inch rode on my 14-foot aluminum jon boat. The anchor swings over the bow and its rode is tied to a cleat aft where I can reach it. It drops by gravity. It’s good enough for the shallow waters I fish, small creeks and ponds, for bass and crappie.

For 18 years, I had a 20-foot center console outboard-powered boat equipped with a 13- pound Danforth anchor on a 150-foot 1/2-inch nylon rode. The rode was tied directly to the anchor, which meant it would pull out of the bottom in a strong wind. I made a quick fix by tying a large galvanized snap in the rode about 6 feet above the anchor; I could easily snap on a sash weight when I needed more holding power. The sash weight allowed a horizontal, instead of a vertical, pull on the Danforth which helped it dig into the bottom.

Photo of a boat anchor

Now I have the same anchor and rode on my 22-foot walk-around hull, but I’ve substituted a 6-foot piece of chain to make the anchor dig in. In rough waters, many saltwater anglers pick up their anchors with a float-buoy combination. Snap the ring around the rode at anchor, start up the engine, and power ahead at an angle; the rode slips through the ring and “floats” the anchor on top where it is easily picked up.

If I know it will be rough out on the water, I get the rode out and spread it on the rear deck. Then I clip a snap attached to a separate line, twice as long as the boat, around the rode and secure it to an aft fitting. To pick up the anchor, one angler runs the boat ahead at an angle so the prop won’t tangle in the rode. Meanwhile his partner pulls in the clipped line until he can get hold of the rode and bring the anchor aboard. The captain is safe behind the wheel and the mate is safe in the cockpit.

Photo of a wreck anchor and buoy

Retrieving a hung anchor can be simplified by using one with a ring welded at the bottom of the tines, to which is attached a buoyed trip line. Get the anchor loose by pulling on the trip line, and backing it out of the snag. That’s the way we anchor at a local structure called “The Airplane Wreck” for obvious reasons. You could also use a wreck anchor made of welded rebar, or aluminum bar, tines. When hung in structure like rocks or wrecks, simply power the boat away and bend the tines out; rebend them back later to resemble an anchor.

Notice we are talking about even-larger boats? When you get over 25 feet or so, experts advise installing an electric anchor winch on the bow. It’s safer and less taxing on folks in marginal physical condition to use a winch to haul a deep-down anchor, particularly in rough water.

There are many types of anchors, from a concrete- filled coffee can fitted with an eye bolt, to a huge navy-style or Danforth matched to your hull and the type of bottom in your area. Check with the experts at your local West Marine store for recommendations.

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