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Should I Anchor? - Boat Anchoring and Fishing

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Out of site of land or any visible reference points, it’s really difficult to determine the current direction and how you boat will drift. That marker buoy we initially dropped made the task much easier. I idled up to the buoy and stopped the boat – dead in the water. I then allowed the current and wind to push the boat wherever it wanted to go. Of course, it went on a line in one direction, and after drifting with the current for a ways, I dropped another buoy. The line between those buoys would be my drift path. So I ran back up current , beyond the first buoy and lined up with the second buoy. Then it was simply a matter of dropping a bait down, just off the bottom, and drifting over the 100 yard “fishy” area. Anchoring in this scenario would have limited us to just the bottom area around the boat, and we would have been unable to attract fish that were scattered ion that bottom – a similar scenario to drifting that grass flat.

GPS

Of course, a good GPS with tracking ability would do the job a lot quicker and without the need for markers. Simply mark the beginning of you drift on the GPS and allow the tracking trails to add up. Then you can follow the trails back and drift back over the exact area you just fish, or move over 20 feet or so and drift parallel to you original drift. GPS technology has come a long way since my buoys!

Offshore Structure

In another area offshore, I have a tugboat marked. It is in about 120 feet of water and it has about a 40 foot relief ( distance up off the bottom). Drifting over this monster only results in hung lines and lost tackle. The tug is disintegrating slowly each year, and a debris field has formed around its perimeter. The current has washed sand from under it and formed deeper holes for fish hides.

With this reef, you have to anchor to be able to fish it and not loose all your tackle. On reefs like this one, the idea is to fish alongside the structure, not on top of it. But finding the right anchoring solution is very similar to determining the right drift.

In past years, I would drop a marker buoy right on top of the tug. I often lost the weight to that buoy when it came time to leave. Then I did the drifting routine again to determine where the wind and current would take the boat. At the end of that drift, I dropped another buoy.

With that line of drift set up, I idled up about 200 feet ahead of the first buoy that I place on top of the tug. Then I moved off to one side of the drift line or the other and sent my anchor to the bottom. A long fetch on the anchor line allowed it to set into the sand, and when the anchor line tightened, I would be slightly up-current and just off to the side of the tug. Baits dropped to the bottom went exactly where we wanted them to go, and we caught fish with few lost terminal rigs.

MPA Consideration

Now and in years to come, more and more areas are going to be designated and Marine Protested Areas. These will range from one extreme to another – from no human presence allowed to fishing, but no anchoring. They may not be there now, but with the continued pressure placed on our fishing resource, they are inevitable. In these areas, you may have to drift or troll without anchoring – we may not have a choice. Anchors can and do cause harm to the bottom life – particularly a coral reef. It only makes sense to protect the habitat. The problem will arise when the powers that be try to stop fishing over and area because of the sensitive bottom, when drifting will not harm a thing. Be aware of the conservation efforts being proposed in your area and make your common sense voice heard!
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