Airboats are known by many names including bayou boat, swamp boat, and fanboat. All of these refer to a flat-bottomed boat that uses an engine and airplane propeller. With the engine and prop out of the water these boats arn’t restricted water depth making them perfect for several types of fishing, hunting, and tourism. Airboats are ideal for navigating the backwater, marsh, and areas where a standard inboard or outboard engine with a submerged propeller would be risky.
In many instances, fishing from and airboat is the same as on any other boat but the experience is very different. Casting with light tackle or fly rods is the same regardless of the boat. Slipping through incredibly shallow areas that hold an abundance of otherwise untouchable fish is what make airboats special. Airboats can skip over sandbars and slide over vegetation. Even when the tide is out and backwater honey holes are hard to reach, airboats will get you there. When fishing for speckled trout and redfish, it makes catching more and bigger fish quite a bit easier.
An airboat fishing trip is also about the unique experience of being in a boat that can also cross land. Although airboats are loud, half of the fun is blasting out to your spot. Flying around the bay to tight canals and grassflats without worrying about bottoming out is a really a cool experience.
Bowfishing is a popular sport among anglers of all skill levels and an airboat is the preferred vessel. Depending on the target species and when you head out on a bowfishing trip, the airboat will be outfitted accordingly. For Bowfishing there are platforms for anglers to stand on and take steady shots into the water. While bowfishing can be challenging for new anglers, it’s a rewarding way to catch fish. If you’re bowfishing at night the airboat will likely be outfitted with lights along the perimeter of the boat to provide better visibility of what lies under the water.
Gigging is a popular fishing technique that can be enjoyed by anglers of all ages and skill levels for a variety of species. Gigging involves using a gig, or spear, that impales fish and allows anglers to pull them out of the water. This method of fishing can be done from the shore, from a boat, but an airboat is ideal. The fish being targeted hide in the shallow vegetation which is easy to navigate in an airboat. These boats also offer plenty of room to move around when fish are on deck and everyone has a sharp spear. The most common gigging trips are for flounder and airboats have become the most prominent boat used for the task. As previously mentioned for bowfishing, when gigging takes place at night, the airboats are outfitted extensively with lights that illuminate the water in all directions.
Airboat can look intimidating with a giant prop spinning in the air. It’s easy to imagine horrible accidents that could occur but in reality it’s very uncommon. Airboats should only be operated by experienced captains. The vast majority of incidents occur due to inexperience or negligence.
Updated on December 6, 2022
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