In the dictionary, the word "anchor" is primarily considered a verb meaning to "fasten, secure, attach, fix or affix something in place." This definition works pretty well for fishermen as we anchor in a spot to go fishing, and what we are doing is securing the boat in a position to most-easily fish our intended location.

However, "anchor" is also a noun meaning "the device or object used to fasten, secure, attach or affix something in place." In doing research for another story, I remember Capt. Jot Owens tying a rope to a cinder block to anchor in the broken bottom of the Cape Fear River below Lock and Dam No. 1. It made me think about all the things I have used or have been shown as anchors over the years. Some of them are practical, some are ingenious, some are simple and some are complex, but the purpose of all is holding a boat in position to fish.

Beginning with standard anchors, numerous companies produce several styles of manufactured anchors. These include the Danforth, Chene, plow, Navy, wreck/reef anchors, mushroom and river anchors and variations of all.

The Danforth anchor is the most popular, being used from small to large vessels and generally holding well, especially when used in conjunction with a length of chain. The Chene is similar to the Danforth, with flukes that pivot and dig in, but with a rail allowing the anchor rope to slide forward and trip the anchor for easier retrieval. The plow anchor gets it name from its shape, and it plows into the bottom. Navy anchors are heavy anchors with pivoting flukes and are often used on ships and larger vessels that have windlasses to retrieve them. Wreck and reef anchors have multiple flexible tines to grab into the structure and then bend under extra pressure to release. Mushroom and river anchors are slightly different versions of round anchors with lips that primarily are used in low current situations.

Other things that are not designed as anchors but are commonly used to anchor are window-sash weights, cinder blocks, bricks, gear sets and other things that can secure a boat to the bottom by weight or snagging. A cinder block, for example, is used in locations where a regular anchor would be nearly impossible to retrieve. In some situations, anchors are rarely retrieved successfully, so materials or line that will break are required.

Several devices have been introduced in the past few years that many fishermen feel have redefined anchoring, especially in shallow water, and their acceptance has been widespread. They have proven to be functional, which is the key, as fishermen are usually very skeptical, especially if there is much cost involved.

The Cajun Anchor (www.cajunanchor.com) was the first of these devices. It is basically a long, heavy metal rod, with an eye to attach a rope at the top end. Some are lightly pointed on the bottom end to help with pushing vertically into soft bottom. In low current, it is simply dropped overboard, using its weight to hold the boat or slow the drift.

A Power-Pole (www.power-pole.com) is an electric-hydraulic device that mounts to a boat's transom and uses a frame with pivots at each end to push a pole into the bottom. Improvements have been constant, and the third version is now available. In a range beginning with the least expensive, Power-Poles are available in Sportsman, Professional and Signature models. The differences are in weight, speed, strength and quietness of the hydraulic pump. Six- and 8-foot versions are offered in the Sportsman and Professional models, while the Signature models also include a 4-foot version.

When Power-Poles first burst upon the scene, they were used primarily by redfish anglers. They have rapidly also developed a following among bass fishermen, and many fishermen now use tandem Power-Poles to control how a boat shifts or pivots in a current.

The Stick-It Anchor Pin (www.stickitanchorpins.com) is often called a "poor man's Power-Pole." It uses a composite shaft with a T-handle on the top and a slight point on the bottom. The fisherman supplies the power to push the pin into the bottom and retrieve it. Stick-It Anchor Pins are available in several lengths, beginning at 5½ feet for kayak anglers and reaching to 10 feet. The first Stick-It Anchor Pins used a rope to attach to a cleat on the boat. In response to fishermen's demands, a bracket was developed - the "Brake" - that pivots and can be attached to the boat at the owner's preferred location.

At a huge trade show this past July, Minn Kota (www.minnkotamotors.com) unveiled its "Talon" shallow-water anchor. This is an electric device that mounts to a boat's transom and uses a screw-drive mechanism to push a pin into the bottom to anchor a boat. The Talon is available in 6- and 8-foot models.

My point is not to compare these devices, but to show what is available. With the proper length of line, anchors will hold in any depth of water. Anchors are still the only device for holding a boat in water deeper than eight feet, but they are seeing competition in skinny water. The concern among fishermen, especially shallow-water anglers, is that the noise created by dropping an anchor over and getting it to grip has potential to scare fish.

The Cajun Anchor and Stick-It Anchor Pins use angler power to set and retrieve and are the least expensive of these devices. Power-Poles and Talons work mechanically and even offer wireless remote controls.

Like many fishermen, I enjoy the convenience of using a remote-controlled mechanically powered anchor. However, I constantly have to work with current that sometimes seems to be dead set on spinning me away from where I want to fish. My budget just doesn't allow for a dual Power-Pole or Talon application, so I use a hybrid approach and hold the boat with the Power-Pole and position it with a Stick-It Anchor Pin.

Another thing I use is vinyl/rubber coated anchors and chain so there is less clank when anchoring in deeper water. I use a Navy Anchor in mud or soft sand bottoms but carry a Danforth style anchor for harder bottoms and difficult anchoring situations.

Ease of use is important, but whatever anchor or anchoring device you use must properly position your boat for fishing. I prefer the strong, silent type and those that require minimal effort. They often help by also not spooking the fish too. Consider the options listed above as ways for gripping the bottom on your way to catching lots of fish and inviting a few home for
dinner.