September 19, 2016
By Frank Sargeant
With these useful devices, stopping the boat is just the start.
I first got a look at what is now generally known as the power anchor many years ago on the flats of Tampa Bay, where a young engineer by the name of John Oliverio invited me on a fishing trip to view an invention he had come up with. He called it the Power Pole.
It was easy to see the advantage of the device immediately, but I'd guess even Oliverio at that time had no idea just how successful the product would become. Not only are power anchors now standard equipment on all well-equipped flats boats, but most tournament bass boats sport a pair of them on the transom. For shallow water fishing, most anglers readily admit they'd be lost without their “sticks.” Today, Minn Kota's Talon competes with the Power Pole, and there are thousands and thousands of both on the waterways all across the nation.
The obvious purpose is to anchor the boat, and in depths to 10 feet—or 12 on the Minn Kota—they do this very well indeed.
With the touch of a remote, you can stop the boat quickly and quietly, with no rattle of chains, and no load of mud and grass hauled aboard when you're ready to move. But the anchors have some other useful purposes as well.
First is simply to replace the dock line—rather than tying up at most docks, anglers can now simply drop the pole or poles and secure the boat instantly. The advantage of using two poles is that the boat can be suspended a few inches away from the dock—unlike with a line, it won't hammer against the structure if hit by boat wakes. Very handy at the launch ramp.
Second, the poles can be used to slow a drift in areas where blind casting is effective, as in a broad sand hole with no obvious target. By dropping the poles just enough to scrape bottom, the effects of wind or tide can be reduced considerably. (This is not a good plan on rock or coral, because the pole makes quite a bit of noise dragging over hard surfaces, nor on grass, where the spike jerks a narrow trail of grass out of the bottom.)
With two poles, it's possible to control the drift of the boat. Drop the right pole and the bow will swing right. Drop the left and the bow goes left. Combined with the steering effect of the lower unit of the outboard, this allows completely silent control of the drift of the boat, handy when you're in areas where the fish are so spooky that even the trolling motor may put them off their feed. Or you can drift the boat sideways, allowing the angler on the back deck a good shot at fish ahead. (Some boats drift this way with motor and poles tilted up, some don't.)
Power Pole also offers a “drift sock” that can be attached to the composite shaft, allowing the boat to be slowed in water too deep for the poles to reach bottom.
Many expert flats anglers drift with their poles lowered to just a few inches off bottom. This way, when they spot a fish, the pole has a very short travel before it sticks and stops the boat—much faster and quieter than from the full-up position.
Power Pole offers a downrigger attachment, built on AFTCO's Roller-Troller Outrigger Clip, which lets you drop a trolling lure down the length of the pole to pull a bait or lure deep—a useful setup when you take your flats boat off the beach to look for a few kings or Spanish, among other species.
There's even a lightweight “Micro” model these days, designed for kayaks and light jon boats, with a removable spike for easy transport. For more info, visit www.power-pole.com or www.minnkotamotors.com. FS
First published Florida Sportsman November 2015