Posted by: Andy Whitcomb
October 18, 2011

Andy Whitcomb

The Biggest Fan of Boats

An Airboat Tour at the Sawgrass Recreation Park.

 

I recently passed a truck pulling an “airboat” on a trailer. Another intriguing boat to consider in my boat quest.

I have yet to drive one but have seen footage of the flat-bottom hull boats, zipping through the Everglades, pushed along by a giant, caged fan.  Not only does it look like a blast, but it also can gain access to water that might not have been previously accessible.

Marty Hamel, a research scientist at the University of Nebraska, has been using an airboat on the Platte River, a tributary of the Missouri River. With a GM 350 V-8, 330 hp engine (and ear protection), he and his crew were able to navigate sandbars and sample areas other boat types could not reach. This research project enabled the team to catch the endangered pallid sturgeon where “they had never been documented before.”

The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators is offering an airboat training course October 24-28th, on Delacroix Island, Louisiana.  However, this is a designed for “law enforcement officers and first responders” and all students are required to have “advanced boating skills.”

The ability to reach water that no one else can is a huge bonus for any angler. Bassmaster Elite angler Mark Menendez won a tournament at Lake Dardanelle, Arkansas when he was able to use his unorthodox borrowed aluminum boat to wiggle through shallow water in a culvert to find winning bass.  Because an airboat can go over aquatic vegetation that would choke any trolling motor, I explored the option of using an airboat in a bass tournament.  I learned that airboats are slower than the 70 mph speeds many pro bass boats can reach and that storage of gear and the fishing platform are thought to be less than ideal.

I am still going to have to try one sometime. . . clutching my honeybun tightly.

Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad living in Oklahoma. Visit him at www.justkeepreeling.com.

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