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Air Boaters Out of Control

Dear Jim,

Jim, I don't know if you the Bassmaster Classic in New Orleans last weekend but it was very interesting. Two of the anglers near the top ran into troubles that were out of their control........AIR BOATERS.

I bring this to you because I have run into the same problems at the STICK MARSH you fish so much. I have a canoe and have had some good experiences at the Marsh but I have had just as many days ruined by AIRBOATS. The ones at the BASSMASTERS cost 2 of the top guys, probably the championship. In my case it just POs me. You can hear them coming a mile away and I'm sure so can the fish. Its not only in the canals...I've seen them run all the way over to the Marsh side too.

What I want to know is are there any governing laws to limit where airboats can go? Any noise restrictions or anything like that?

Fishing is usually a great, peaceful experience, but as I saw on the tube last weekend .......there are noise monsters affecting even pro bass fishermen.


Dear Chris

To my knowledge, there are no general restrictions of any kind on airboats. I do know that there have been a few LOCAL restrictions imposed in certain counties of Fla. to restrict airboats from residential areas and/or to limit the hours they can operate (night disturbances).

So far, I have not had any problems, personally, with them. I would think their influence on the fish is directly related to water depth. If you read my site much, you know that I think fish are pretty dumb. I have almost hit them with a running trolling motor before they would move out of the way. Airboaters actually run back and forth across grass beds and hyacinth mats to knock the grass shrimp and other food items loose from the vegetation in order to get the fish started on a feed. This is nearly always for crappie and it does work. They go slowly, drawing as much draft as possible, so that they stir up the water and the grass beds as much as possible. Then, they go back into the grass, make a hole in it with a pole or a rake and drop minnows and jigs into the hole. Once I saw them do it successfully, I tried it with my big STRATOS, idling through the grass. It sure did not appear to bother he fish at all.

Now, the events at the Classic, of which I am unaware, may have been different circumstances. Narrow, shallow canals with airboats passing at high speeds create major wakes and stir up the silt. That can make the water muddy and knock a bass boat around, if they don't slow to an idle. And, the fact is, that while most airboater are good guys, you have your rude, worthless types, just as in any other group. The ones who care less about the other guy are just like the car drivers with the Joe High School mentality who blast loud radios so people will maybe pay some attention their miserable souls.

The only way any controls will ever be enacted is if there are enough complaints about airboaters. Personally, I have no problem with them to date, EXCEPT that they are too loud. And, I have seen many airboaters that did not even wear ear protection. To me, that is a way to single out potential troublemakers. Sorts like the boater who you se tossing his trash and beer cans into the water.

Jim Porter

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