“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 Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad. He says there are “people who fish”… and there are “fishermen”.  One of the few things he knows is that he is a “fisherman”...  To the point it could be classified as borderline illness.  Sharing this obsession is rewarding, therapeutic. He likes to encourage people to “stop and smell the crappie."  Enjoys catching fish, but gets a greater thrill out of helping someone else hook up.
Born in Florida, but raised on the banks of Oklahoma farm ponds. Now relocated to western Pennsylvania. He has fished, worked, lived all around the US.  He has a B.S. in Zoology from Oklahoma State as well...
And he met his wife while electrofishing. He has been contributing weekly to www.takemefishing.org since 2011.