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“You want a very low angle push pole.”
It is tarpon season, and something you might notice is a lot of guides using a Push Pole to direct the boat towards the fish and also using to stop the boat. Shoving the pole into the sand or mud is called “staking out” and it is a very effective way to stop the boat momentarily or to wait on some fish to come to you. It is also very easy to break your push pole. These poles are made of high-end graphite and can break easily if there is too much strain put on them. They are expensive so you really don’t want to break them. Also, since I use Power Poles for anchoring in shallow water, it is important to know that there are some cases when I will still stake out with a push pole because there are areas where I can’t use the Power Poles. Here is some advice on how to stake out safely:
1: Wind/Tide Direction
The first thing to consider when you are attempting to stake out is the direction of the wind and tide. You don’t want the boat to be pushed over the push pole due to either the wind or the tide. I’ve seen this happen and if it does it will break your pole and your fishing trip will be over because no one packs an extra push pole.
You want to make sure that the pole is in the mud (you need a soft muddy bottom to stake out) and you want the wind and tide to be pushing your boat away from the pole, the boat should be down wind from where you put the pole. Then at this point you will see guides put a loop around the foot of the pole and the boat will be stopped in that position.
2: The Push Pole Angle
The next thing to consider is the push pole angle, the angle from the mud to the boat. If you put the pole straight up and down (at a high angle) then when you tie the loop it will be bent and you’ll hear a crack and your fishing trip will be over. So to avoid this you want a very low angle and this means that you will have to push the pole deep. When you put the loop around the foot you should let it loose a little and let the bend in the pole work itself out and then you should be stopped.
If you are not stopped then you should pull the pole out and try again, the pole should come right out. Something that will help minimize the stress on the pole is its position in respect to the boat. You want the pole to be in line, right down the middle of the boat, if the boat is off to an angle from the pole then you have a greater chance of breaking the pole.
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See you on the water,