Boat control is critical to fishing success, especially when targeting shallow water. If you’re not in the right spot to cast and present baits, or worse, your boat drifts over skittish fish, it’s game over.
Through the years, enterprising anglers have deployed paddles, poles, oars, traditional anchors and electric trolling motors in the quest for pinpoint positioning. All have applications, but today, we have an exciting new ally in the battle for boat control, the shallow-water anchor.
Born in the bass market, such devices are quickly shattering the species barrier as anglers everywhere discover their many uses. In a nutshell, shallow-water anchors are mounted on the boat, typically astern, and are capable of quickly deploying a spike to hold the boat in place. When not in use, they fold or retract, thereby keeping a low profile while you navigate from spot to spot.
“The biggest benefit is sheer convenience, both when fishing and for keeping the boat safe while docking, loading, and unloading,” says noted freshwater expert and avowed shallow-water anchorman Scott Glorvigen, who’s mounted Minn Kota Talons on several boats in his multispecies armada.
On the fishing front, one of the main gains is the ability to thoroughly dissect fishing areas with the utmost efficiency. “When working a break, weedline or flat, I can Talon down and explore every fish-holding facet the spot has to offer. Once I contact fish, I can fine-tune boat position as needed,” Glorvigen explains. “In contrast, when you rely on a trolling motor or the wind to push you through an area, you tend to move too fast. And when a fish hits, it’s easy to drift out of position, or even over the spot you’re trying to cover, blowing the rest of the fish out of the area.”
While shallow-water anchors are handy by day, Glorvigen says they’re absolute godsends once darkness falls. “If you’ve ever fished at night, you know the challenges,” he laughs. “You can’t see anything, the wind and waves push your boat around, and everything becomes ten times more difficult than it is during the day.”
On the positive side, night fishing can produce phenomenal action, particularly for trophy fish on pressured waters. Thankfully, shallow-water anchors make fishing the night shift easier and more productive. “They simplify things by holding the boat in position while you’re presenting baits and fighting fish,” he says.
Case in point: his twin Marty experimented with shallow-water anchor while night fishing muskies last October, and swears he’ll never be without them again. “They made such a huge difference, it changed the way he fishes forever,” says Glorvigen. “He was able to stay on the windy side of shallow reefs without drifting over them while casting, performing figure-8s and fighting fish up to 50 inches in length.”
Shallow-water anchors aren’t just for still water, either. “They work great in current, on everything from small flat-bottoms to larger boats,” he says, explaining that his favorite riverine applications include anchoring above wing dams and pools, or along current seams. “Since the transom faces up-current, you can fish from the bow, which is convenient. Plus, by using the bow-mount trolling motor in conjunction with a shallow-water anchor, you can work a 360-degree circle without repositioning.”
Wherever they’re deployed, shallow-water anchors offer big benefits in stealth and efficiency. “Imagine, no more rattling chains, clunking the anchor against the side of the boat, or wrestling with the rope while the boat drifts out of position,” says Glorvigen. “Plus, the remote-control options make it easy to raise and lower the spike from anywhere in the boat. The wireless foot switch works great in the bow, while the standard Talon Remote can be worn on a lanyard or mounted on the driver’s dashboard, giving you a variety of deployment options.”
Besides being breakout fishing tools, they’re also great for safely parking your boat at a dock or along shore. “When you pull up to a dock, one of your greatest fears is rubbing the boat against nails or other sharp objects,” he says. “With a shallow-water anchor, you can nose up to the beach, drop the spike, and know the boat won’t go anywhere. When you multiply the cost of fixing scratches and dents over the life of a boat, a shallow-water anchor pays for itself many times over.”
As an added benefit, shallow-water anchors reduce the risk of transporting exotic aquatic species from one lake to the next. “They’re so much cleaner than traditional anchors, you’re not pulling weeds and muck into the boat, which could spread non-native species,” says Glorvigen. “And they keep your boat cleaner in the process.”
More good news, there are shallow-water anchors for virtually every fishing boat. For example, Minn Kota recently expanded its Talon offerings, adding 10- and 12-foot spikes to its lineup, which also includes 6- to 8-foot models.
Sporting a three-stage deployment system that left housing height unchanged, the new units also offer a trio of distinct anchoring options. When fishing on sand or mucky substrate, Soft Bottom mode tones down anchoring force and only taps bottom once, to prevent the spike from plunging too deeply into the goo. The Auto-Drive option taps three times, with increasing force, to gain a foothold. And in choppy seas, Rough Water mode performs three Auto-Drive sequences to maintain its grip on bottom.
No matter which size model fits your boat and style of fishing, Glorvigen says once you bolt one to the transom, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it. “Whether you’re fishing natural lakes, rivers or reservoirs, shallow-water anchors are a great piece of equipment to have aboard” he says.
Image and video courtesy Scott Glorvigen