One of the more “traditional” options for catching catfish is to fish with the boat anchored.
The best technique can vary. Ultimately the technique you have the most confidence in is the best choice.
Fishing with your boat anchored is an excellent option that many anglers prefer and it’s something that works for all species of catfish. You’ll need two good anchors and and a good anchoring technique to catch catfish anchored on lakes and reservoirs.
I’ve used just about everything available to anchor my boats over the years. Before I began as a catfish guide I fished from a 14 foot jon boat. My anchors were coffee cans filled with lead with anchor bolts inserted.
I used Digger Anchors for years. These will meet the needs of most anglers. The larger your boat is the more anchor holding power you’ll need though. This may force you to look for other options.
If you find yourself fishing in high winds, the demands on your anchors increase. This is true regardless of how big your catfish boat is.
Despite my success using Digger Anchors I’ve always kept a box anchor on hand. I reserved it’s use to only when needed, in very high winds. With my SeaArk ProCat 240 Catfish Boat I had problems keeping the boat on anchor. The Digger Anchors did well in little to no wind. With moderate or higher winds, the Digger’s wouldn’t hold, especially in the most silted parts of the lakes.
This resulted in a full time switch to using a box anchor with the SeaArk ProCat 240. I still use the DIY shallow water anchors in shallow water. In deeper water the box anchor has become my “go to” anchor.
There may be other good options for rivers but in lakes and reservoirs the box anchor is an excellent option and it’s affordable.
Box Anchor Basics
Manufactured box anchor options are available but they carry a hefty price tag. If you find one in stores you’ll find the larger anchors cost close to two hundred dollars.
Most anglers build their own box anchors or buy them from local anglers who make them because of the cost associated with manufactured options.
Box anchors will grab and hold in almost any condition. Despite how well they perform, there’s some negatives to them as well. It’s the negatives that always made me use them only when required.
Problems With Box Anchors
My biggest complaint is they’re heavy. Especially if you’ve built a box anchor for a larger boat. It’s exhausting pulling them up from deep water. Do this half a dozen times or more and your back will ache.
I’ll cover some options to help with this in the future. Until then keep in mind that if you decide to use box anchors you’re in for some work using them.
My other complaint is they’re messy. They bring a lot of mud up off the bottom and make a mess of your boat decks. Drilling some extra holes in them helps but they’re still messy.
They’re also bulky. The anchor locker on my SeaArk ProCat 240 holds two with ease but I often hear from anglers that have storage issues with their box anchors though.
They Grab and Hold Though
Despite the negatives of these anchors they work and work well.
They grab and hold. I’ve had a handful of times where they didn’t grab immediately. This was always in soft silt and even then they always grab and hold at some point. Most often they’ll grab as soon as they hit bottom and won’t ever move.
They’re inexpensive to build and almost anyone can build them. If you’ve got the most basic of welding skills you can build one of these anchors. Even if you have to pay a welder you can build a box anchor for a minimal investment.
You’ll be hard pressed to find a good anchor for less money. You can buy the steel and pay for welding and still get out cheaper in most cases.
If you can find scrap steel and have some welding skills you’ll save a ton of cash.
Box Anchor Sizes
The key to these anchors is sizing.
It’s critical to make sure you build large enough without going larger than needed. Remember, they’re heavy, so every inch of stell you add means more work.
I’ve experimented with several sizes on my boat and built anchors for other anglers as well and these numbers have always worked.
A 16“ x 16” box works well for larger boats 20’ to 24’ long. This is true for aluminum boats and pontoons. These also work well for Fiberglass Boats 18’ to 22’ long. Fiberglass boats 20′ to 24′ may need a larger anchor.
A 14“ x 14” box works well for aluminum boats and pontoons 16’ to 19’ long in most cases. If fishing in high winds this size will often fall short with larger boats. This also works well for most fiberglass boats 16’ to 17’ long.
If fishing from a boat smaller than 16’ a 12“ x 12” box should work fine (though I’ve not tested). I suspect if a 12“ x 12” box won’t hold you’re in conditions that aren’t safe for a boat this size.
If there’s any doubt on correct size, go with the larger size.
One Big, One Small
To anchor a catfish boat in lakes and reservoirs you need two anchors. One serves as the primary anchor used on the front of the boat. The bow of the boat goes into the wind. This front anchor carries the load holding the boat in position.
The second anchor holds the transom (rear) of the boat. This holds the boat still and prevents swaying. If done correct you’ll sit still with no rocking or swaying.
Because the bow goes into the wind you need a good sized anchor up front and the larger goes in this position.
The rear anchor isn’t stressed as much as the front anchor and can be smaller. Reducing the anchor size makes them cheaper to build and easier to store. More important, using a smaller size reduces the weight of the anchor. In turn, you’ll save yourself some heavy lifting.
I prefer to use a 14“ x 14” box anchor on the rear of my boat and have suspected that a 12″ x 12″ size might work as well (though I’ve yet to try it).
- Flat Stock – 1/4” x 3” (length depends on size)
- Chain – 3 Feet
- Chop saw
- Tape measure
- Sharpie marker
- 4–1/2“ Grinder
When purchasing flat stock the length needed depends on anchor size. You need 4 pieces of steel for the box of equal lengths and 8 ”teeth“ that are 5” long.
Total steel needed for the teeth is 40″(regardless of anchor size).
For a 16“ x 16” box anchor you’ll need a total of 104 inches of flat stock. This provides four 16“ pieces and eight 5” teeth.
For a 14“ x 14” box anchor you’ll need a total of 96 inches of flat stock. This provides four 14“ pieces and eight 5” teeth.
For a 12“ x 12 ” box anchor you’ll need a total of 88 inches of flat stock. This provides four 12“ pieces and eight 5” teeth. How To Build The Box Anchor
How To Build a Box Anchor
There’s detailed photos below.
Measure the steel flat stock for the box based on your chosen size. Remember to measure twice and cut once. Mark the cuts with your sharpie marker.
Cut the box pieces with your chop saw so you have a total of four equal length pieces for the box.
Measure the remaining steel flat stock marking each piece 5 inches long. Cut the remaining steel until you have 8 each of the five inch pieces.
Determine the cuts for the “teeth” and mark with the sharpie marker. The goal is to round the teeth off. Remember not to make the teeth pointed. They’ll damage your boat and be dangerous to work around.
Make the cuts on the teeth on one side only (one end remains straight).
Use your angle grinder to clean up the cuts and prepare for welding. It’s a good idea to clean the “teeth” up well at this point.
Weld the four long pieces into a box making sure it’s square.
Weld the teeth on all four corners of the box on top angled in the same direction. The teeth should be at a 45 degree angle.
Weld the bottom teeth on all four corners at a 45 degree angle. Make sure the top and bottom teeth point in the same direction.
Weld the end of the chain centered on the front of the anchor. The front of the anchor is where the teeth are pointing towards.
To reduce the silt that holds in the anchor drill a 1/2″ hole in each corner between the teeth. You can drill more holes if preferred. This will help with silt and also reduces the weight.
I’ve always used my box anchors “as is” and they’re not pretty but it doesn’t bother me. Many anglers prefer to improve the appearance though.
Cold galvanizing compound is an option to improve appearance and stop rust.
Many anglers paint their box anchors to color coordinate with their boats.
I’ve seen a lot of anchors coated in roll on or spray on truck bed liner. This is an excellent coating but it really holds mud.
If appearance is important to you then have fun with it!
Most of my anchors have come from scrap steel so the material has been free. I’ve also welded them myself or had friends weld to reduce cost.
You can expect to spend $25-$35 for steel if you buy it. Many steel houses will also cut it for you on a fee per cut basis (eliminating the cost of the saw).
I shopped around with welders for this article and prices varied a lot. The cheapest quote was $35 and most expensive was $100. Most of the quotes averaged $45.
If you buy all materials retail and pay for welding at most you should expect to spend $75. Just make sure you shop around for the best prices.
An Affordable and Effective Anchor
If you’re looking for a good low cost anchor then look no further. It requires some effort to build a box anchor but they’re affordable and they work.
I’ll be back with a future article to cover anchoring technique for catfishing. Having the right anchor is half the battle. Combined with the right technique you’ll be on your way to catching more catfish.
If this all seems like too much work you can purchase an anchor here though you’ll pay a premium for them.
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