Posted by: Andy Whitcomb
June 18, 2013

Andy Whitcomb

“Propellers Need Not Apply”

Local Allegheny River angler Joe Stefanacci learned I was new to the area and was kind enough to offer a boat ride.  While our kids were in school one afternoon, I took him up on it.

“How many props do you go through each year?” I asked, looking at all the big rocks in the clear river.

“None,” he said, grinning. “It’s a jet boat.”

When I hear the word “jet,” I think of screaming airplanes, rockets, and a need for ear projection. However, this was not the case.  His outboard sounded, and looked like a standard outboard above water, making me wonder how many other boats I’ve seen on the river also were jet boats.

“It is basically a big water pump.”

Though the engine has less horsepower than when fitted with a propeller, we easily reached smallmouth bass shallow river haunts among submerged rocks, logs, and boulders.  No nail biting. No gripping the gunnels. No colorful language.

Access is a large part of a successful fishing trip and this was like having 4-wheel drive and plenty of height clearance. We glided up a skinny-water tributary and then he cut the motor, just using a trolling motor occasionally to correct our drift.

It took us a while to find them but on this afternoon, but a 50-yard boulder laden stretch was smallmouth city.  While Joe landed another, this time a sturdy two-pounder, I noticed how difficult it would be to try to reach this spot from shore or by a boat with a larger motor.

Back at the ramp, I watched a couple launch a boat with a propeller-fitted outboard. And I noticed their fingernails were exceedingly short…


Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad living in Pennsylvania. Visit him at

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  1. […] of fishing success depends on access.  Having the right boat can help. Sometimes a jet boat may get you there, other times floating quietly in a kayak is the ticket. When fishing from shore, […]

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