A better shallow-water anchor

Stealth is just a button-push away

My club tournament partner and I were running out of time. We had barely 15 minutes of fishing left before we had to leave to make weigh-in, and we had just located our first concentration of decent bass.

They were stacked in a kitchen table-sized area on a hump just off a shoreline weed bed. I eased us upwind to anchor in about 6 feet of water, where we could reach the fish with easy casts.

Thanks to day-long high winds, the trolling motor batteries were about gone, and anchoring was our last hope.

My partner stepped up beside me on the front deck, and when I said, “Right here!” I might as well have said, “Bombs away!” Silence is golden when fishing shallow water, and spooky bass have no tolerance for anchor and chain noise. For some unknown reason and from about waist high, my excited partner pitched the big mushroom anchor off the bow.

I watched in horror as it hit like a cannon ball, got us both wet and ended our fishing. If only I’d had a partner with more composure or, barring that, a quiet, electric pole anchor on my boat, that $10 plastic trophy would have been ours.

I know, no big deal, but this incident is typical of the luck I’ve had using conventional anchors in shallow water.

This happened decades ago, back when the only poles used for anchoring were in the hands of saltwater flats fishermen who sometimes stopped poling, rammed the pole into the bottom and tied the boat to it. Sometimes they’d lash the boat to a second pole, as well, to keep wind or current from swinging the hull. The more boat motion you eliminate the better your fishing “feel,” the more accurate your casts and the easier it is to precisely cover the water you want to fish.

A pole also has minimal impact on sensitive environments; it affects only 3 or 4 square inches of bottom rather than the big smudge a mushroom or fluked anchor and chain make.

Unless you’ve been living in a cave the last few years, you have probably seen the new pole-type anchors from Power-Pole and Minn Kota. Models designed for larger boats are either articulated like the spiked hind leg of a big, helpful insect, or they slide or telescope a spike straight down from their transom mounting location to literally pin your boat in place.

Minn Kota just announced a new version of its Talon shallow-water anchor that will hold your boat in water up to 12 feet deep. Both companies’ standard-sized models work well, but even though they have a relatively small mounting footprint they are just too big to use on smaller craft.

Minn Kota’s Talon can now reach down as much as 12 feet deep.

The new Power-Pole Micro Anchor coming from Tampa, Florida-based JL Marine Systems is designed to fill the small-boat need. JLM says the new Power-Pole Micro will deploy its 8.5-foot spike and stop a small boat in seven seconds flat. In a demonstration video, it stops a kayak in about 2 feet of travel. After implementation, the anchor holds a boat in place whether the bottom is sand, rock or mud.

The spike’s rugged drive train is designed to prevent jamming or clogging thanks to a floating wiper that cleans the pole and natural rubber drive wheels featuring Water Evacuating Tread. Its stealthy Soft Drive gearbox includes sound-deadening composites for quiet operation and low-friction spike glider bearings that should give years of smooth performance.

No coatings or paints mean no chipping, peeling, cracking or fading of the UV-protected unit over time.

The fully-adjustable mounting bracket makes it easy to install the Micro on nearly any transom or deck. An adapter plate, clamp-on bracket and rail-mounting system are three options ready to solve any unusual mounting problems. A quick-release clamp on the unit’s bracket makes removing the Micro easy for storage or use on another boat.

The Micro is controlled by either a soft-touch keypad on top of its housing or a wireless remote you can wear on a neck strap. The keypad on top of the unit’s housing includes membrane keys for auto-up, auto-down, anchor spike down-force adjustment and a battery power level indicator.

The remote control features auto-up and auto-down buttons. You can also add a free Power-Pole app to your smart phone (Android operating systems only) and use it to control the Micro.

A USB connection lets you install software updates and downloads.

Micros can operate from a boat’s 12-volt power system or from an optional self-contained Lithium ion battery pack with charger that stores enough juice for up to 100 full deployment/retraction cycles per charge. Either source powers the unit through a water-resistant plug.

The Micro unit is due to arrive at dealers in the first quarter of 2014, and it will sell for $595 without the pole spike. It will use other three-quarter inch spikes but you can buy an 8 ½-foot Power-Pole spike designed for the Micro for $99.95.

For information on the complete line of Power-Pole shallow-water anchors and accessories, go to www.power-pole.com or call JL Marine Systems at 813-689-8883.

To check out the full story on Minn Kota’s Talon shallow water-anchor systems, including the new 10- and 12-foot models, visit www.minnkotamotors.com or call 800-227-6433.