Let’s say that you don’t want to drift any more. You have tried it and while you had immense fun fishing from a drifting kayak, you now want to target species like ray that will require a static bait. Presenting a static bait from a kayak requires the use of an anchor. Dropping and hauling anchor can potentially be the most dangerous aspect of kayak fishing, especially in a strong running tide. I sometimes fish coastal waters on the east side of Ireland and to give an idea of the tidal flow’s power at peak flows I will need 24ozs of lead just to hold a mackerel flapper on the sea bed with 40lb braid. Anchoring up in water like this is not for the faint of heart or uninitiated.
One thing that is absolutely essential for anchoring is an anchor trolley. This is a pulley system that allows you to ship your anchor to the bow or stern of your kayak, allowing the length of the kayak to face into a flowing tide. Without an anchor trolley the kayak will sit perpendicular to the tide, will quickly become flooded and will capsize. An anchor trolley is nothing more than a pulley attached to each end of the kayak. A slim rope like paracord is passed through each and tied off on a karabiner. That’s it! The karabiner allows your anchor line to be passed through it and the rope with the pulleys allows the anchor line to be shipped forwards or backwards to your preference. One thing I like to add is a small loop of strong bungee elastic to secure the pulleys to the kayak. The ‘give’ in the elastic pulls with the swell and makes sitting at anchor a little more comfortable.
The anchoring kit itself is fairly simple. I like to use a diver’s reel. These reels come loaded with strong but low diameter line which is great for cutting through the tide. The size of reel that you get depends on the depths of water you will be fishing but remember that you will need your rope to be at least three times the length of the water depth. If you are fishing in 50 feet of water you will need 150 feet of anchor rope. Having enough excess to create a nice sloping angle will allow the kayak to rise and drop with the swells. Not having enough rope will pull the bow of your kayak into the water which is an accident waiting to happen.
The anchor itself is a simple folding grapnel anchor and 1.5lb is more than heavy enough. I have added six feet of heavy chain to the anchor attached with a shackle to the bottom loop on the anchor. The heavy chain helps to nail the anchor to the bottom and assists the ‘teeth’ biting into the sea floor. I attach the top eye of the anchor with a light cable tie. Why? If the anchor becomes stuck applying steady pressure will break the cable tie, invert the anchor and should allow it to free itself from this new angle. Another trick for dislodging an anchor can be to paddle uptide and pull it from this angle which nearly always works for me.
Anchoring is not a difficult thing to do in a kayak but it can be potentially very dangerous. My advice to anybody that would be interested in learning how to drop and haul anchor would be to seek advice from somebody who knows how to do it. Get them to show you in still or very slow moving water and, like self-rescues, practice dropping and hauling anchor until you can perform them both flawlessly. Then move onto more powerful flows incrementally. Like the self-rescue, anchoring is a kayak fishing skill that gives the angler confidence and also opens up a whole new world of species and tactics that can be explored.