Virtual Anchoring: Yes, You WILL Catch More Fish

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Being able to hover in position without having to fumble with an anchor is priceless.

I upgraded my boat last season, and with it, all of the electronics and systems that I use for bay and occasional ocean fishing. Since my old boat was quite long in the tooth, it’s meant a lot of changes in the way I fish. Upgrading to the latest and greatest side-scanning system (a Humminbird Apex 16) has been huge. Having a pair of 35 gallon integrated livewells is another biggie. But the biggest of them all? Without question, it’s having a bow-mounted trolling motor with Spot-Lock.

spot-lock on a reef with puppy drum

Being able to hover in position without having to fumble with an anchor is priceless.

I used to dread anchoring, but now it’s button-press-simple. Once anchored I might have delayed pulling up to reposition even when I knew we weren’t exactly on target, but now shifting in any direction is button-press simple. And I might have opted to drift rather than anchoring, resulting in constant snags on reefs and/or the need to constantly restart the engine and pull up for another drift. Oh, and sometimes the wrong guess about wind or current would result in even more wasted fishing time when the boat didn’t drift exactly as expected and missed the mark. Now, I can park the boat over structure and work it methodically from end to end.

Spot-Lock is Minn Kota’s system, but all of the GPS-equipped trolling motors made today have a similar function and all work well. Many outboards can do much the same if they’re equipped with joystick and dynamic positioning systems, however, some of these (though certainly not all) can be a bit aggravating, especially in windy conditions, as the engines constantly shift into and out of gear. That “clunk,” don’t forget, is metal-on-metal and when you’re positioned close to the fish, can create vibrations that spook them.

What about pole anchors? These also work great, but they’re limited by depth. Use them to stake out in the shallows for sure, but don’t expect that they can substitute for virtual anchoring over a reef or wreck in 20-plus feet of water.

The bottom line? Among all the technological advances between a boat built in the 90s and one built last year, and between an electronics system a decade old versus one built in 2022, there simply is no contest: virtual anchoring with an electric trolling motor is the number-one upgrade, when it comes to catching the most fish.


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