Palmetto Paddlers have one thing in common — human-powered means of locomotion. Regardless of how you get there, boat positioning — which doesn’t always include coming to a complete stop — can mean the difference between getting on the fish and being out in dead space.
Unlike most powerboats, where a trolling motor would be a priority piece of gear for boat positioning, kayak anglers typically rely on some type of anchoring system to hold the boat still. Anchoring a kayak is easier said than done. Depending on where the anchor is attached often determines which direction you’ll be facing, particularly if wind or current is involved.
Most paddlers use an anchor trolley system, a simple set of pulleys, rope and clips attached to either end of the boat that allows them to attach the anchor line close at hand, then pulley that connection to one end of the boat or the other. Once the boat settles out, wind and current maintain the position.
“With my boat, I learned quickly the importance of the anchor and trolley setup,” said Billy Lewis of Liberty. “In fishing tournaments, it has allowed me to stay on points and cover that I never would have been able to by just peddling or paddling. I use a collapsible grapple anchor (and) approximately 40 feet of line. Drop the anchor close to the spot, and then use the trolley. It is a must for fishing in the wind.”
Types of anchors can vary with the terrain fished, the depth of water, and the amount of available storage in the kayak.
“I use bigasshunkalead®, eight pounds of molten lead poured into a Coke can,” quipped veteran Charleston kayaker Tommy Samuels. “The best part about bigasshunkalead® is it fits in that stupid cup holder the kayak companies think we all need.”
“When fishing depths from eight to 50 feet, I use a Bruce anchor on nylon line with a quick disconnect clip and float in case I have to take off and chase a large fish,” said Marty Mood, a member of the Hobie Kayak fishing team. “In shallow water, I use a Yak Attack ParkNPole. Both of these will be used in conjunction with an anchor trolley, enabling me to position my boat facing into or downwind depending on what I’m doing.”
Stake-out poles are a favorite of shallow-water anglers, particularly in current, allowing the angler to stab the pole into soft bottom and hold the boat in place.
“I fish in rivers mostly,” said Stewart Venable of Fort Mill. “I use the ParkNPole to anchor to the bank in order to fish current seams and eddies.”
Deep-water expert Brad Knight of Belton, another member of the Hobie fishing team, uses a double anchor off both ends of his trolley for cut-bait stripers and cats using multiple rods in freshwater, but he uses a tailor-made system of a large, stainless steel anchor, three feet of chain, 100 feet of bull-line and an anchor ball as a float when targeting big sharks and tarpon around coastal inlets.
Some freshwater and saltwater anglers prefer a more natural boat position, using wind or tide to drift with and stay on the fish, until they find fish in a stationary location.
“I’m just a man on the move looking for structure and current,” said Zachary Caldwell, a kayak fishing guide from Travelers Rest. “Don’t get me wrong; if I mark fish in deep water, that trolley anchor is coming out.”
“I usually don’t anchor up much in deep water,” said Mike Eady of Black River Outdoors Center in Myrtle Beach. “I like to drift and play the wind and tide. I occasionally will use a stake-out pole, but I would rather pull my kayak slightly into the grass to fish the edges of oyster bars and creek-mouth openings.”
“When in rivers, I’ll drift fish with the current, same in marsh areas,” said Jason Saledas of Columbia, “but when I find that one spot around bridge pilings or some bottom structure, I’ll break out the anchor trolley system.”
For kayakers wanting the versatility of an anchor and a drag to slow progress in a moving-water situation, some anglers have adapted a system that utilizes logging chain to either slow or stop progress altogether.
“I have a retractable dog-leash system that works well in water up to 15 feet,” said Bridgett Howard of Jackson Kayaks fishing team. “The weight is 18 inches of 5/8-inch” galvanized chain encased in a bicycle inner tube. A pocket knife always handy in case things get dicey.”
Veteran bass angler Karl Hudson uses a logging chain wrapped in gorilla tape.
“When fishing in shallow water, I use one segment that is about a foot long. I can move around without lifting this drag chain, and it will keep me in one spot in slight to moderate wind. If I need to stay put or the wind is up I add another chain of about 18 inches in length. I use the smaller drag when throwing big crankbaits and large spinnerbaits.
At the top of the high-tech list is Charleston’s Justin Carter of KayakFishSC, who has been one of the first to test Power Pole’s first entry into the kayak-fishing market.
“The Power Pole Mini is by far the best system I have ever used for shallow water,” said Carter. “It’s simple, easy and works well on almost every type of bottom.”