“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

Andy Whitcomb

Andy is an outdoor writer (http://www.justkeepreeling.com/) and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to takemefishing.org since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.