September 07, 2020
You pushed all the way to the fish, now what do you do with the push pole?
When I'm fishing solo, I'm probably working a shallow flat, poling my skiff with a fly rod at the ready. It's a juggle not easily done without a bit of practice.
The hardest part is figuring out what to do with the push pole, once you've spotted a fish. At first, I'd try to pinch it between my legs, just to drop it and blow out every fish in the county. After a few mishaps like that, it was time to figure out the best way to stow the push pole in a quick, silent and stealthy manner.
CADDY UP COWBOY
Many companies offer a “caddy” style push pole holder, such as the Tibor Push Pole Caddy
(pictured above) that mounts to your poling platform. These holders are a quick and easy way to stow the pole with one hand, as they snap in and out of the clip with ease. Most have 360-degree movement, and also pivot up and down. These work great in calm conditions or when drifting when making a cast, as the pole is afloat behind the boat when clipped in and not holding to the marl.
BREAK OUT THE BELT
Another option is a holder that clips on your belt. The Pole Mate
and RailBlaza Quick Grip Hip Clip
make snapping in the push pole with one hand easy. Being that it's on your person, chances are you won't have to look down in search of the holder, taking your eyes off of the fish. When spinfishing, I'll often keep the rod tucked in my waistband while poling. Having a pole holder right here makes for an easy swap.
I will say, I don't prefer this style when fly fishing, as I like to have free movement when casting, and the pole can get in the way at times. Also, as with the caddy, the boat will be adrift.
STAKE… AND DON'T SHAKE… THE BOAT
Another option is to stake out the boat with a line from your poling platform. This works great when you need to be a bit more stationary. Perfect for waiting on fish cruising down an edge or funneling out of a cut off of a flat.
I use paracord; some use ½-inch dock line. It is VERY important when attaching your line to make sure it does not hang down anywhere near your lower unit. I prefer mine just above the rub rail.
This can be hard to do on a rocky bottom, but when it is soft, you can stick the point in the ground and tie off the pole. I prefer a clove hitch, a quick and easy knot that comes undone with one pull of the tag end, when I'm ready to move again.
Slow down when poling, especially solo, when you need that extra time to get situated. I've seen it too many times, where people push too fast, and blow out the school, especially in low light. This also gives you time to observe, is there bait? What do you hear? How's the bottom look? Don't hesitate to just sit for a few minutes.
If you can't wait them out, wade them out! If you've tried everything and you just can't seem to line it up with the boat, stick it and get out! Nothing is stealthier than wading! FS
Published Florida Sportsman Magazine July 2020