May 16, 2011
Florida Sportsman Associate Editor Jerry McBride briefly retired his paddle to join Capt. Sam Heaton for a few hours of fishing in the new Ocean Kayak Torque. The electric kayaks are powered by an integrated Minn Kota trolling motor. Our plan was to power out to a submerged bar and wade-fish for snook and trout, but a combination of fall's highest new moon tide, reinforced by 6-foot Atlantic swells, buried the normally knee-deep bar under four and a half feet of water. Even the mangrove shorelines were too deep for our chest waders. So we stuck to kayaking among the massive migrating mullet schools.
Length: 13 feet, 10 inches
Width: 29 inches
Seat Width: 17 inches
Weight, empty hull: 71 pounds
Weight, with motor: 86 pounds
Weight, with battery, estimated: 115-120 pounds
Maximum capacity: 425-475 pounds
Suggested retail price: $1,999 (paddle, battery not included)
Available colors: Yellow, Sand
Propulsion: Minn Kota saltwater 36-pound thrust trolling motor with weedless wedge prop
On our way. Sam ran inside Jensen Beach's Snook Nook for supplies. I don't know what he asked for, but owner Henry Caimotto followed him out the door, apparently to make sure he left the premises. Heaton, a well-known troublemaker, gets that response a lot—usually at my house.
Heaton unclips and deploys the rudder on the kayak I'll be using. The huge foot-controlled blade made the Torque very responsive under electric power.
Battery sits under hatch in front of kayaker. Heaton figured our deep-cycles would be good for at least two days of running without recharging. Given the weight of the batteries, it would be best to transport them in the truck and install them at the water.
Electric propulsion works in forward or reverse—just dial in the direction and speed. Attach kill switch to prevent runaway kayaks.
Heaton easing along a mangrove shoreline. Once we got used to the nuances of the foot controls and throttle, the Torque proved pretty nimble.
Torque load capacity is 425 pounds. Sam utilized every bit of it. I never did ask him why he needed two suitcases to fish for just one morning. Rod holders aren't standard, so Heaton threw milk crates into tank wells, with attached vertical holders, along with an adjustable Scotty rod mount up front. Comfort Plus seat appeared rather thin, but was surprisingly comfortable. Heaton's sonar transducer fit into the scupper in the front of the cockpit.
Mutual admiration society, recording the moment for posterity.
First fish. Pinfish got a little too aggressive and paid the price. Having caught such a beast, I'm exhausted and ready to head home, but Heaton demands that we stick around until he too feels the exhilaration of catching such a trophy.
If this is another pinfish, get out the record book.
All catches look impressive on 6-pound tackle, but this fish has no interest in coming off the bottom. Boat behind me stuck around for awhile after I hooked up, hoping to bend a rod also.
Finally at the surface. Pretty impressive fight for a grassflat…
…gag grouper. Little guy ate a D.O.A. CAL glow jig and Fiji Chix color shadtail—always a good combination in murky water.
Sam shoots the scene in black and white, just to make me look even older, if not wiser.
Glad there's no reason to reach inside there. Popped the jig out of the corner of its mouth and sent it back into the mullet school.
Trout season over, schoolie trout predictably all but jumped in the boat. This one ate a suspending trout-color Sebile Stick Shadd.
Even Heaton got some action, which tells you there were a lot of less-than-picky trout in the area. At low fishing speeds, the Torques ran very quietly. When traveling between spots, higher speeds created some vibration in the plastic hull, but not enough to be irritating.
No need to lift this little snook out of the water. Quick picture and release.
Last catch of the day, species number seven. The little Spanish mackerel miscalculated and the jig grabbed it instead of the other way around.
The long rudder bumps bottom long before the prop skeg goes aground. Thirteen-foot boat features a big tankwell and plenty of flat foot space.
Protective skeg protects the plastic Minn Kota propeller. Propeller can be removed and replaced with a plastic plug if you prefer to paddle. The Torque zipped around pretty nice. Sam said it registered 4.7 miles per hour on his GPS.