Shawn; I've owned a few minn kota electrics and well it seems nothing holds up very well in a river... when the motor stops and the boat keeps going it's a bad situation.... stuff gets destroyed.
The picture of the inside motor housing is interesting; is that a cracked magnate under the jacket of the motor and can you really glue them back together? Sorta looks like the inside of a Mercury outboard starter...
On my Trackers I threw out the trolling motors and installed an electric anchor system and figured this was a better use of the deep cycle system wiring and the best means to pull anchor safely while storing the line outta the way. A friend of mine got pulled out of his boat on the Deleware several years ago while pulling anchor line against the current; lucky he didn't get killed.
An electric anchor mounts easily on the bow and uses the same 12 volts so you might check into it.
I am surprised that an electric motor would get you around okay on the Clinch and wonder if you launch and land at the same place or drift to a lower ramp and use the motor to push through the slow spots?
Awesome topic, advice and info!