Power Pole this, Talon that – the current industry has us all thinking they invented the boat anchoring system. Maybe they did invent the remotely-operated stick-in-the-mud, but for years, probably dating back to the times of Cro-Magnon or Neanderthal, anglers used a rope tied to a heavy weight to keep their boats from drifting off a prime spot.
Then some angler with a great idea, probably out of Florida, came up with the push pole. The push pole enabled anglers to stealthily stalk super shallow flats fish that would spook with a trolling motor. As an angler was fishing the front of the boat, another angler in the back would push the boat along and when a fish was spotted, they held the boat in position with the push pole.
What if you were fishing by yourself?
Well another angler, again, probably out of Florida, decided to sharpen one end of a push pole. With the sharp end he or she could stick the pole in the mud or sand and tie the boat off to the pole. Problem solved.
As stated above, the earlier version version of the pole was an anchor. But anchors were a pain. They were heavy, rigged properly with a chain they’d bang up the sides of the boat, they were loud and the rope always seemed to get tangled around something.
Then in the late-60s – early-70s, companies started manufacturing automatic anchor dispensers, like the Worth Anchormate II and the Johnny Reb LectrAnchor shown here. These electric anchor winches allowed anglers to place and retract their anchors without actually touching the anchor or the line. These units also allowed the angler to deploy an anchor from anywhere in the boat.
There were a couple of problems associated with these contraptions, though. They needed constant adjustment to ensure 1) the anchor didn’t fall from the gunwale and create a splash akin to Moby Dick breaching and 2) so the spool that carried the rope wouldn’t backlash, creating a mess that any bald eagle would be proud of.
Albeit cumbersome, the fact is most serious anglers in the 70s had at least one of these things on their boat and many anglers had two, one fore and one aft. Thankfully technology took over and we no longer have to use these things to stop the boat from drifting over our precious fishing spot.
Past Reader Comments:
RichZ: I bought my ’71 Terry used from a guy who worked at PowerWinch. It had a power winch on the trailer and front and rear on the boat for anchors. Took them all off and sold them for half what I payed for the boat. Took the Anchor mates off my 12-footer and put them on the “big boat” (14 foot).
Capt. Burton Bosley: Ret’d from guiding in the everglades a few years ago – it was the law we had to have a flag on a pole or antennae at a fixed height when running in the glades – so the airboats could see you – still had some exciting encounters/near misses.
Jojo Norwood: I still use anchors….never had one of the fancy “pro” rigs like that….let KVD win a Big Derby use’n an anchor and Strike King will have some sexy shad ones ready to go. LOL If you fish out in the open in the wind try’n to fish a bait slow there ain’t no other way to go. Not being on the trolling motor all the time is a real treat. I use a BPS anchor bag that you coil the rope into and put the mushroom right in it on top. Keeps it neat and contained until you need it.
Terry to Jojo Norwood: “let KVD win a Big Derby use’n an anchor and Strike King will have some sexy shad ones ready to go.” Now that’s funny Jojo!
Paul Wallace: Hey Watt. Were the flags to keep from getting ran over???
Watt to Paul Wallace: Exactly Paul. We used to run the airboat trails out of Winnie’s Cove on Okeechobee when the fish would get way back in the sawgrass. The problem was the trails were super shallow and you couldn’t come off plane or you’d be stuck in the mud. Airboaters sit up high and can see over the sawgrass. Not so for us sitting down low in a typical bass boat. I was running the trails one morning and came face to face with an airboat coming the other way. We both bailed and I buried my boat in the mud. The airboat clipped my stern on the left side and took a chunk out of the fiberglass. I was dead in the mud right there!
The airboat came back around and we hooked a line to my boat to drag it back into the water. It was a mess. I was covered in mud, water and grass. Instead of getting annoyed we got to talking about how we could both run the grass safely. That’s when we came up with putting a whip on the bass boats to get a flag up above the grass where airboats could see them. Not only did it work out well but a bunch of us starting running VHF radios so we could help each other out when we got on fish. That’s also the time that the hydraulic jack plate was designed to allow us to run that super shallow water. When the V-6s came out the motors were too heavy to use our standard manual jack plates. Life sure easier nowadays!
Nothing reaches that buttcheek pucker factor like meeting an airboat in the sawgrass in an airboat trail that’s not even as wide as a bass boat! 😉
Watt: We used the Anchormate in deeper water lakes like Lay Lake, Smith Lake, Lanier, Watts Bar et al but the stick in the mud has been around since the early 70s when we used push poles in shallow lakes like Okeechobee, Kissimmee, Guntersville, et al. We took the push poles and ground down one end to a point, jammed it in the mud and tied off to it. The rig was actually a crossover from the saltwater shallow water guys. We simply tied the long poles off to the cleats on the boat. The power pole is just an upgrade on that.
When the wind got up on a lake like Okeechobee the old sticks in the mud were invaluable. Further proof that what is old is new again. Heh! Next we can discuss why we ran long antenna whips with flags on our boats when running airboat trails! Ha!
Terry to Watt: Great story Watt. 🙂 I did an article with Preston Clark some years ago for BassFan (after he broke the four-day tournament record) and he told me about the push poles. Now, about those whip antennas? That sounds like a great story. LOL
Watt to Terry:
We actually used the push poles more for wild shiner fishing Terry. Back then trolling motors simply didn’t have enough trust to work back into the deep grass. We would run as far as we could on the trolling motor, push pole back to the open pockets and then stick the poles to tie off. It wasn’t until later that we learned to use them flipping the grass. The only way they would work was by using a single pole on the stern and flip off the bow. Hence the placement of the “new” power poles.
Is it just me or did we work our keesters off back then?! Man! These guys today can just push a button! 😮