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Quick anchor release.

Fishing tarpon under Tampa Bay Sunshine Skyway Bridge by myself, I wasn't landing many tarpon but I was hooking them. The problem was how to dump that anchor ball in two seconds or less and back out under the bridge to chase a fish before it cut me off diagonally on a huge concrete stanchion. Something the fish have learned to do in less than ten seconds.

Quick Release Solution

Instead of struggling with a tight figure-eight knot on a cleat under set-anchor pressure (typically something someone has to do to get off the anchor) use a separate, 3/8-inch nylon boat tether line about 15 feet that runs to a poly-ball connecting the anchor line. I put a small float on the tether line for ease of getting back on the anchor after fighting a fish. Splice or overhand-knot a loop in the end of the tether line that goes to the boat. Set your anchor as normal, but feed the tether line loop through a bow cleat and over a small loop you've pinched in the standing part of the tether line. Into that pinched loop I insert a 1-inch diameter wooden dowel about five inches long; the dowel holds the spliced loop over the pinched loop. The dowel has a light but sturdy cord attached through a small hole drilled in the end of the dowel. Make the cord long enough to reach back to your boat helm or wherever you plan to be on the boat when the big fish hits. The force of the set anchor on the tether line will keep the dowel firmly in place--until you yank it out and are instantly released from all ground tackle to go fight a fish.

With almost no practice, you can key your engine with one hand and pull the dowel with the other when the rod arches over under a heavy strike. It even works better than untying knots when there are plenty of hands onboard to babysit and release the anchor line--why lose time fumbling with tight figure-eight knots when line is screaming off a reel?

Anchoring Fine Tuned

For bridge tarpon fishing I use a traditional Danforth anchor but with twice the chain as most skippers. Instead of five feet use 10 feet of chain. You'll need less line to anchor with the bonus the boat swings side to side less in a stiff bridge current; you stay put where you want to be. My anchor line is a fixed 60foot length because I know the depths I fish are generally around 20 feet. Similarly, because the main anchor line is completely under the poly-ball select a length that fits the depths you fish.

In my anchor setup the top end of the anchor line is looped to a poly-ball. To that same loop under the poly-ball the tether line is attached using a stainless steel snap just large enough to clip over the loop's line diameter (which in this case is 1/2-inch diameter, three-strand nylon line). The tether line can be easily unsnapped if you decide to anchor traditionally.

Quick anchor release fishing doesn't mean you'll never lose another tarpon under a bridge. But it won't be because you didn't get off your anchor faster than you can say, "Fish on!"

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Title Annotation:SILVER KING
Author:Babbitt, Brion
Publication:Florida Sportsman
Date:Apr 1, 2016
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