Anchor ideas

Hi all. Looking to get an anchor, or ideas for an anchoring device, for the canoe my wife and I just got. We plan to use the canoe for mostly lake paddling in NJ, NY (Harriman State Park), Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire.

With many fallen trees, branches etc at the bottom of Northeastern lakes (I am assuming here), I was hesitent to buy a real ocean kayak anchor. Thought maybe the anchor could get caught up too easily on the debris, and would be impossible to pull up. Would then have to cut it loose and loose the anchor.

I thought a weight for weighlifting could work, but not sure a 5 or 10 pound weight would hold us on a windy day.

Any ideas/suggestions?

Are the bottoms of northeastern lakes as debris ridden as I imagine they are?


Plenty of Free Anchors
Hit a few lakes at low water and you will find plenty. I have a collection, and have given many away.

That works for western reservoirs…

– Last Updated: Jun-12-06 1:53 PM EST –

... but natural lakes in the midwest and east seldom drop very much at all, and even our impoundments here in the midwest usually never drop more than three or four feet below normal, and even that much is usually considered severe. That's a good idea for lakes that drop a lot though (I bet a lot of people go walking out there to collect lost fishing lures too!).

A good non-snag design is a long cylinder, something like an old-fashioned window weight, but it should be heavier than that. If you want some "grippers", weld on some pegs or flat stock at the *top* end, so they grip when the thing drags along the bottom, but lift free when you pull up over the anchor and lift vertically. Such grippers won't grab the bottom as well as some installed at the end opposite from where the rope ties on, but it shouldn't ever get stuck either.

In actual fact, most larger natural lakes do not have seriously snag-infested bottoms, but in the northeast I would expect rocky bottoms, which can be just as bad. If there's a lot of sediment on the bottom, even an anchor with really effective gripping hooks will seldom become permenantly stuck.

(who's only lost two anchors (so far) in many years of fishing)

If you don’t mind the weight, an eight
pound mushroom anchor as used on bass boats does a fine job. A 15 would be overkill. The mushroom anchor will hold in loose sediment bottoms and won’t snag on rocky ones. As for myself, my lakes and rivers are mostly soft bottom with little or no current. If I use an anchor, and I often don’t, my favorite is one I inherited with my Loon 138. It’s lead that was poured into a veggie can with an eye bolt in the center and weighs about 5 lbs. That’s all the anchor I need. If it looks like it’ll be really windy, I carry a 5 lb barbell weight. It fits nicely on the floor of the kayak and doesn’t roll around. I’ve also got some 2.5 barbell weights that I some times use and a 3 lb rubber coated dumbell I use with my 9.6 ft kayak.

Anchor for fishing?
I use a plastic gallon milk jug full of gravel and sand and water. Not a perfect solution but it keeps me in the general area I want to be in on windy days. Two jugs, 1 bow & 1 stern works best.

anchors aweigh
I agree with Jeff that finding store bought anchors is usually pretty easy in summer around here. But, for years I used a coffee can that I’d filled with cement and added an eyebolt to when the cement was wet. I’ve also got a little conical lead one that I made by making a depression in sand, standing an eyebolt in the depression, and then pouring molten lead into the depression around the eyebolt. It doesn’t weigh that much, but works because it’s shaped like an inverted mushroom.

As for store bought anchors, I’ve found several uses for a sea drift anchor, and recently started using a little folding 4 claw $12 anchor. It has the added bennefit of working like a grapling hook if you want to just toss it over a tree limb or bush to stay near shore. Though, sometimes it’s a bit tricky to get out of the trees from inside the boat. I actually had to get out and do some tree climbing last time I tried that.

Some of the canoe and jon boat fisherpeople I know just use cinder blocks with ropes tied to them, for an anchor that will really keep them in one spot. But, those were always too heavy and bulky for me to mess with.

Army tent stake
My roommate and I found steel/iron military tent stakes at the army surplus in our area. They weigh around 5-6 pounds have an auger head that is around 3" across and grabs well and an eyelet at the top. Our only complaint is they are 2.5’ long. We are going to fix that with a cut torch and a welder though. We have liked them so far

I use a 7 lb. window weight, but i know
people who use a mesh bag and just put rocks in for weight. This works well too and is low cost. Just dump the rocks out before you load up to go home.

Milk jug
filled with sand work’s fine but I also most often just use a drift sock.I rarely ever try to stop altogether prefering to just ease along while fishing.

8 lb. mushroom anchor
Another voter for an 8 lb mushroom anchor. Have been using one for over 20 years.


Rig it to lose it
What to use depends on the bottom where you will anchor. Small mushroom anchors are ideal.

On the section of Potomac below Little Falls, the bottom consists of large irregular and jagged rocks. I used the mushroom anchor the first few times I was there and felt extremely lucky to get it back on a few achor weighings. The current and wind caused the anchor to become ensnarled in the rocks and it took paddling the canoe in different directions to find a way to pull the anchor out. After that, I began using rocks for anchors.

It takes surprising little anchor to hold the canoe. With the current, I thought it would drag more, but a rock about 8"x 3" seems to hold it just fine. I figured I’d drag the rock and it would hold when it got wedged among the rocks on the bottom, but it acually seems to hold by its own weight.

The final recommendation I have for rock anchors is to rig them so that when they do get stuck you can break them off. Use a lighter cord to tie the rock onto a stronger anchor line. Then, if your anchor gets stuck, the weaker line should break before the anchor line and you still have most of your anchor line. If you tie the rock on with line that is stronger than you can break and it gets stuck, you have to cut the line at the surface and need to replace it. I usually pick up a spare rock when I launch, which I can use for a back-up anchor in the event I break the line.


Anchor line?

– Last Updated: Jun-13-06 12:02 PM EST –

Thanks to everyone who responded. All fantastic ideas. I think based on the above information, I am going to try to use a weightlifting plate. will try to pickup a 5 or 7 pound weight after work today at Target.

As for the anchor rope itself, I was unsure if I should use some expensive climbing rope that I can get at Campmor, marine rope from a marine store, or just proper diameter rope from Home Depot. Thoughts?

Suggestions for rope diameter?

Thanks all!

don’t use polypro (floating line)

– Last Updated: Jun-13-06 12:16 PM EST –

You want your anchor rope to sink out of your way. Floating rope gives more opportunity for fouls and snags on your terminal tackle. 1/4 inch is plenty. Bigger is needlessly bulkier.

I use a good quality nylon rope. I don't know if it's the best to use or not. Whatever you use (besides polypro) make sure it is good quality. Good quality rope does not get all tangled up in the bottom of the boat like cheap rope does.

2 suggestions
1. 8# mushroom = about $12

2. Nylon Basketball net = $3, tie one end shut and lace the other and put a cord lock to cinch shut. Add 1/4" line and fill with convenient rocks the amount according to the conditions.

Used #1 for years on local lakes for fishing, #2 on trips in the BW where extra weight is a consideration.

Other good suggestions in the replies. Nice thing about #2, if you have to cut it loose you’ve lost less than $5.

Hope this helps


Goto the surplus store and buy 100’ of parachute cord. Works great is cheap and drys quickly.

Addendum on break-away rigging
I thought of this thread last night on the Potomac as I hacked away at an anchor line that may have been the undoing of a kayak. See the topic I just posted on the chat forum, titled “the river coughs up a kayak.” This kayak was permanently anchored to an unbudgeable object with line that could be used to lasso elephants. One theory on how it got there is that its owner couldn’t get the anchor free and for whatever reason abandoned the boat rather than cut the anchor line.

Rig those anchors to be break-away so your boat doesn’t suffer the fate of the kayak we salvaged last night.

~~Chip Walsh, Gambrills, MD.

Use a clip at the end of the anchor line
attach a float or piece of pool noodle on the line, and you have a quick release if the anchor gets stuck or a fish gives you a tow.

Anchor Line Suggestion
Just wanted to bump an old thread since I was searching on it and didn’t see an excellent suggestion:

Everyone is familiar with those retractable dog leashes, correct? They make excellent anchor rope also! That way as you reel in your anchor, the slack gets wound right up. It is also much easier to lock into place than tying knots after your anchor hits bottom.