Andy Dear | Monday, 23 August 2021
A jon boat (or johnboat) is a flat-bottomed boat constructed of aluminum, fiberglass, or wood with one, two, or three bench seats. They are suitable for fishing, hunting and cruising. The nearly flat hull of a jon boat tends to ride over the waves rather than cut through them as a V-hull might; this shallow draft – only a few inches – enables the jon boat to operate in very shallow water, but limits its use to calm waters.
I've often wondered about the origins of the name "Jon Boat". Over the years I've read several plausible explanations, each one sounding as legitimate as the next. And although I am not sure anyone actually knows where the name came from, I am sure of one thing, and that is that there have been very few years of my life on planet earth, where an aluminum Jon boat hasn't played a significant role in my angling pursuits.
My earliest recollection of fishing out of a Jon boat...or any boat for that matter was with my dad in a 12 foot Sears Gamefisher Jon boat. My grandfather had purchased this boat for my dad and my Uncle to duck hunt out of, and it certainly did see plenty of use as a mobile floating duck blind in the mid to late 1970s. Somewhere around that same time, my dad and I started chasing white bass during the spawning run on a couple of the local rivers.
That boat was powered by an old pull start 7 1/2 horsepower ESKA brand motor. I'm not exactly sure where or who my dad commandeered that motor from, all I know is that it was marginally reliable at best, and at worst was a guarantee for rotator cuff surgery later on in life. It did however provide the propulsion necessary to push that little 12 foot Gamefisher where we needed it to go. And, in the process, provided a platform from which we tormented the white bass population of both the Medina and Guadalupe rivers for several years of my youth.
I often wonder where that Jon boat ended up. It seems like I remember it getting stolen out of my grandfather's backyard in the late 1980s, but to be honest, I am not exactly sure. And as for the ESKA outboard motor, it most likely found the bottom of a dumpster in the late 1980s after the boat went AWOL. Truth be known that's probably exactly where it belonged.
I'm starting this series on Jon boats because a series of serendipitous events transpired this last week that brought my relationship with these beautifully utilitarian vessels full circle. I know.....I'm probably reading way, WAY to much into things that seem to be even remotely connected to one another, when in truth it may just be nothing more than a happy accident. But, when it comes to fishing, I almost feel at times that there is a higher force, fitting together the pieces of the puzzle that is my fishing life.
Hope you are all having a great week,