Veteran Stuart fishing guide Ed Zyak established a name for himself many years ago as the go-to guy for catching large sea trout on the lower Indian River Lagoon. As the years rolled on and freshwater discharges into the river system created a major shift in available grassy habitat, sea trout numbers declined and the good fortune necessary to tangle with the rare “gator” trout became increasingly difficult to find.
Turning his sole focus away from the declining lagoon fishery, Zyak expanded his range to include fishing along Stuart’s ocean beaches. But the pull of the early morning thump of a large trout under glassy waters never drifted too far from his thoughts. The combination of some old-school clientele requesting flat-water trips and his own desire to return to his roots led Zyak to pursue a build project that would result in the perfect low-impact boat for chasing the elusive trophy trout.
Few skinny-water boats have the cult following a Gheenoe custom build has. Zyak, the former owner of several Gheenoe boats, has experience with the novelty of building one of these unique watercraft to spec. When it came time to spec out a new boat for a return to the flats where he originally made his mark in the industry, the Custom Gheenoe Lo Tide 25 was a logical start.
A visit to the Gheenoe website offers a base price for the hull followed by an à la carte list of options. Beginning with the bare hull, Zyak added an array of accessories that would make some larger flats skiffs blush. A 25-HP outboard for power was first, along with a Minn Kota Ulterra 80-pound thrust trolling motor. A Minn Kota 8-foot Raptor stake anchor is perfect for a quick stop and cast without making a ruckus. A tall, stand-up center console with tilt steering accommodates a Humminbird Solix 10 GPS sounder unit.
The poling platform provides an elevated seat for spotting spooky trout, and a forward raised casting deck was built for elevating the angler’s perspective while housing both a dry storage compartment and a separate live bait well. The entire interior is trimmed in SeaDek, along with accents on the console dash and poling platform. Forward against the console, an Engel cooler serves as both a drink box and a seat. A padded backrest is mounted against the console face.
While putting some break-in hours on his new engine, Zyak took a few minutes to sneak into the skinniest of waters looking for any sign of his old friends. A few casts produced that familiar thump—and a flash of optimism washed over the glassy surface.
Length: 16 feet
Beam: 56 inches
Draft: 5 inches
Weight: 270 pounds
Fuel: 6.5 gallons (remote)
Max HP: 25