It’s Getting Easier to be ‘Green’ Part I

By: Mike Pehanich

With all due respect to Kermit, it IS getting easier to be “green,” particularly for fishermen in the hunt for all-electric propulsion solutions. Whether you are driven by environmental concerns or compact propulsion options for “electric only” waters or small craft, new high-tech options are yours today.

Electrically powered motors have long been hailed as “environmentally friendly.” Fishermen have found them friendly as well.

If you are new to the environmental discussion, technologies that produce little or no environmentally hazardous emissions are dubbed “green” and deemed long-term solutions to growing air pollution and related global climate change challenges. Battery-powered electric motors do not produce the emissions that gasoline-powered motors generate. They leave a significantly smaller “carbon footprint” by producing no air-polluting carbon emissions while in operation.

Irrespective of political postures on “green” energy and the oft-related topic of “climate change,” fishermen have had an ongoing love affair with electric propulsion. Most use electric motors as an adjunct to their gasoline powered engines, using the latter as a primary propulsion units and an electric “trolling motor” for boat control and positioning while fishing.

Over the years, however, anglers have summoned electric motors to broader and more diverse duty. Transom-mount trolling motors are frequently used for both primary propulsion and boat positioning on rowboats, pond boats, canoes and even popular emerging styles of fishing craft such as kayaks and paddleboards. On lakes restricted to low horsepower outboards or off limits to gasoline engines altogether, bow-mount electric motors may perform double duty as well.

The reasons ‘lectric love has settled across our angling culture are practical and close to home. In fact, politics and environmental fervor have participated in the love fest only at its distant edges.

Cost and convenience have set the table by making electric motors “must” possessions for anglers of both modest and lavish endowment. But credit quiet performance, reliability, and, in the case of transom-mount models, lightweight portability for much of that devotion. An angler with a trolling motor in the corner of the garage needs only access to a boat to enjoy its service. And even bass boat owners commonly keep transom-mount trolling motors for “small water” occasions.

Technological Tipping Point

But marine technology has reached a tipping point at which the prospect of fishing boats driven entirely by electric power, fore and aft, has become feasible. Better yet, such craft can now deliver the lion’s share of the satisfaction that our high-powered bass boats give us today.

Advances in the development of lithium batteries have factored hugely into this development. They promise motor-battery packages that are lighter in weight, more portable, quieter, and — at least from a life-cycle perspective — more economical than low-horsepower outboard engines.

“Green” credentials come into play as well. A 5 HP gasoline-powered outboard produces more nitrogen oxide and hydrocarbon pollution per hour of operation than a fleet of new cars. Not so with a battery-powered craft.

Chef Todd Kent got added range and back-up safety from this jon boat outfitted with trolling motors, fore and aft, while fishing this “electric-only” backwater of the Illinois RIver.

Torqeedo’s lithium battery-powered outboards

Much of today’s most innovative work with electrically powered outboard motors comes from Torqeedo (www.torqeedo.com).

The evolution of the company’s high performance electric outboards has followed a stair-step path from low-horsepower engines in its Ultralight, Travel and Cruise series to the 40-, 60- and 80-HP outboard and inboard motors – yes, still electric! – in its Deep Blue line. Rumor has it that higher horsepower options are on the way!

The author’s “all-electric” Twin Troller X-10 with Torqeedo electric outboard motor has proven to be a deadly one-man fishing craft capable of handling small to mid-size lakes and streams as well as farm ponds, strip mine pits, quarries, harbors and development lakes.

The company gained an early foothold in the U.S. sailing market with its German-born marine and lithium-battery technologies. Torqeedo’s circle of clientele has broadened since to pontoon owners as well as with owners of powerboats in lake communities encouraging or regulating for quiet, pollution-free boat operation.

Fishermen? Torqeedo had not aimed its electric motors at anglers initially. But that hasn’t kept fishermen from finding Torqeedo.

Even before kayak fishing’s enormous growth spurt occurred, kayak anglers had taken notice of Torqeedo’s 1hp electric kayak motors. The Torqeedo Ultralight 403motor provides kayakers with not only a second propulsion option but, more importantly, a “no hands” assist to kayak control while fishing.

Next month we will detail how we converted two popular styles of “small waters” craft, including the Twin Troller X-10 from Freedom Electric Marine, to effective and efficient all-electric fishing boats with added range, functionality and propulsion capability.

About Mike Pehanich:

Mike Pehanich is a professional writer, photographer, and videographer for BASS publications: Bassmaster, Bass Times, Fishing Tackle Retailer, Cabela’s Outdoor Journal, Wired2Fish, and Fishhound. He is an industry expert in the sport and business of fishing, outdoor travel, conservation, and fisheries management. Mike is also the founder and owner of Small Waters Outdoors and Mike Pehanich’s Small Waters Fishing.

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