Why use airboats to fish?
OK, there’s more than one way to skin a cat – and more than one way to fish.
Rod n Reel – netting – or bowfishing. It all depends on where you are and what you’re fishing.
Rivers in Africa are often not perennial – and those that are often have huge variances in their water level, depending on seasonal rainfall.
What’s more, many rivers and lakes have lots of vegetation, rocks and sandbanks that make a boater’s life quite difficult. And expensive, thinking of your boat’s welfare.
Often the water is too low for a big boat, and small boats are a very unstable platform. In fact, a wide, flat bottom boat is best for running most rivers. And, in case you encounter local wildlife – hippos and crocs – bigger is better. Trust me.
It’s also difficult to find a place to launch a big boat, so an airboat is just about perfect: you can launch straight from wherever you parked your car, without any ramp, slipway or additional help.
Actually, with an airboat, you don’t even need water.
For the fishing, you do.
How can I see where my airboat is going?
That’s easy: Look out. Out front, that is. That way, you can see where you’re going – and find the fish. Just try not to hit a sandbank while you’re standing up. You might get airborne.
Purpose-built airboats for fishing come equipped with operator controls in front that allow you to navigate slowly without having to put down all your fishing gear and scramble into your seat.
Why so many lights on the airboat?
In clear water, most bowfishermen prefer nighttime. Traditionally, that was done with a paraffin lamp. As technology evolves however, a few more watts are found to be helpful.
High-wattage lighting allows the bowfisher to penetrate the darkness below, as the fish are attracted and come up to the surface. Depending on your setup, you’ll need an extra generator with a few KVA to keep your lights on.
The bows are pretty much like a regular hunting bow, but have a fishing line attached. This allows you to reel in your catch the same way you would with a rod & reel.
There’s a trick though that even the best lighting won’t help you with: do not aim right at the fish. Aim low to just miss it, more or less, depending on your angle. Light refraction will cause you to miss your first couple of shots. To get the basic idea, put a straight stick in the water and look at it sideways: it will appear bent at the surface. If you want to know more – call your physics teacher.