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Boat Anchor Tips - Anchoring a Boat over a Fishing Spot

Use These Boat Anchoring Tips to Help You Stay put over a Fishing Hole


Positioning your boat with a boat anchor in the right place for fishing can be a real pain. The tidal current, wind, and even passing boats make it difficult. Here are some boat anchor tips to help you out.

Anchoring Inshore

  • Locate the spot you want to fish – it may be a ledge, oyster bar or line of rocks.
  • Estimate the tidal current and determine your best guess as to how long it will run that direction and how strong it will be.
  • Estimate – again best guess – what the wind will do to your boat.
  • Idle up current far enough to allow an anchor to hang on the bottom. This could be 100 feet or more.
    • Depending on the wind’s effect, you may have to angle the boat into the wind as you move up current.
    • Deep water requires more anchor line out.
    • Shallow water requires less anchor line out.
  • Ease the anchor over as the boat drifts back toward your fishing hole.
  • Allow the Anchor to hang on the bottom by holding the line and allowing the bow to swing into the current.
  • Once the anchor hangs, let out as much line as needed to let the boat move back toward the hole.
  • Don’t allow the boat to sit directly over the spot – it spooks the fish.
  • Allow some distance from the spot for casting,
  • Tie off the anchor line and fish!

Anchoring Offshore

  • Without a GPS

    The same general rules apply offshore as inshore. The difference is that you have no point of reference – that is you can’t easily tell which way the current is moving.

    • Locate the spot you want to fish.
    • Drop a small marker buoy right on top of or to the side of the spot. You will usually leave this buoy in place while you fish.
    • completely stop the movement of your boat, using reverse or forward gear as necessary. Watch the grass, bubbles, and flotsam around the boat. It should not appear to be moving. This means your boat is moving at the same speed as the current.
    • The boat will move away from the marker buoy.
    • Idle back up to the marker buoy and do it again to get a frame of reference with a cloud or perhaps another boat.
    • Idle up again and move directly at and beyond the marker at least three times farther than the depth of the water
      • If the water is 50 feet deep, move 150 feet beyond the marker.
    • Drop the anchor at that point and allow the boat to drift back and the anchor to hang.
  • With a GPS
    • The same basic rules apply here as without a GPS.
    • The GPS "trails" marks your drift instead of a marker buoy.
    • Use the GPS trail to head back up current to drop the anchor.

Watch the Current

  • Inshore currents are determined by the tide.
  • Offshore currents are also determined by the tide, but are harder to detect.
  • Avoid picking a spot where the current may move you onto an unsafe bottom after you have your boat anchored.
  • Remember – the tide will change and the current you see now will move in the opposite direction at some point.

Watch the Wind

  • Wind can slow a tidal current or really speed up a tidal current.
  • A wind blowing perpendicular to your boat can blow your boat off the spot you picked.
  • Offshore winds are particularly tricky because you have no point of reference

Watch Those Wakes

  • Wakes from passing craft can put your boat in jeopardy of washing onto an oyster or sand bar.

Be Prepared to Try It Again

Accurately placing an anchor takes patience and practice. Don’t be surprised if you end up over the wrong spot and have to try it again. Just make sure you compensate for whatever distance you were off on the next attempt.

Bottom Line

Everyone needs to play it safe. If you plan to anchor offshore, make sure you have at least three times as much anchor line as the depth of the water in which you plan to anchor. Anchoring in 100 feet of water means you need 300 feet of line or more. And, more is always better. Tight lines and hung anchors!
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