Tips From The Power Pros: Mercury Motors

Over the years I have seen engine designs come and go, and even some marine engine companies go out of business. So to prevent themselves from becoming obsolete, Mercury is always pushing the envelope to stay on top of the marine engine industry. Today I would like to give you my reviews on some of their newer motors.

The Mercury 150 EFI Fourstroke:


The goal of this engine was to make a simple, light, and reliable fourstroke motor. In the few years that it has been out, it has proven to be just that. Take the cowel off the motor and you will not see miles of wires going to and fro. The engine is set up for easy maintenance, so the oil and fuel filter are easy to access and the chart showing your maintenance intervals is easily visible on the side of the motor. The oil drain has a nipple for you to hook a hose to so when you open it, oil does not spill all over the place as it has done on past models and on the competitor’s engines.

To make this a reliable motor that will last, Mercury designed a big bore, short stroke 3 liter, 4 cylinder engine. Each piston is 4 inches in diameter, yet the stroke (back and forth movement or up and down movement in other motors) is only 3.62 inches. This gives the motor excellent torque as well. There is also only one cam shaft on this motor, this minimizes the moving parts and also cuts down on weight. There is one slight drawback however, at lower RPMs she has a shake, on some boats you will notice it more than others. At about 900 RPMs the balance shaft in the internal part of the motor has enough inertia to smooth out the vibrations. From what I have seen only a few people even notice this issue. On some of the past models there were some issues with the fuel system modules, the new “FSM” on this engine has been completely overhauled and perfected. I have not seen one issue with the FSM on the 150. Overall this motor is one of the best I have seen made, and it will be around for awhile. In fact they have had such success, Mercury has modeled the 75-90 and 115 HP fourstrokes off this engine.

The Mercury Verado 350-400 HP:

350              400R


I have not seen one of these monsters yet, but I am looking forward to that day. So now boats that only have room for twin engines have an option to give them more horsepower. These engines are compatible with the Mercury Joystick Control system as well. I’ll go into detail about that system another day, but I can tell you this… there is no better set up on a boat with twin engines than the Mercury Joystick Control.

Since I brought up the Verado horsepower kings, I will take a moment to address a question that I often get asked by customers who want to increase their engine performance. The plain and simple answer to that question is you cannot. If you want more HP, buy a bigger engine. Here is why, and I will put it as simply as I can. A Mercury, and even MerCruiser engine, runs on what is called a Speed/Air density theory. This means at certain RPM the engine knows how much air is going through it and the ECM will adjust the fuel flow or pulse width of the fuel injector to keep the fuel to air ratio at about 15 parts air to one part fuel.  If you bore the cylinders out, put an oversized cam in, and port and polish the head, you will have a lot more air in the intake than the ECU will know is there. This will cause you to run lean, have poor performance, and within hours, destroy the engine. Now if you are one of my fellow techs reading this and it is the first time you have heard this, it is very important to know if an engine is running poorly. You will need to check your barometric pressure reading. This tells the ECU how much oxygen is in the air which the computer also uses to keep the optimum air to fuel ratio. So here on the east coast I see the barometric pressure around 28.5-29.5 Hg or 14.1-14.5 PSI most of the times but if the sensor is wrong and it reads, say, 25.2 Hg, the ECU will think there is less oxygen in the air and will lessen the fuel pulse width at the injector causing poor performance, yet it will not show a code that the sensor is bad. The ECU just thinks it’s at a higher altitude. I have seen this frustrate good technicians who did not pay attention to the instructor when he was talking about this. I have seen it on three different engines, and all those engines had been to two or three different shops before they came to me, and it really is an easy fix. So if you are a fellow tech reading this, look it up and study it (there are questions on both the certified and master certified technician tests on this as well).

“The Little Guys” Mercury 2.5-3.5 HP motors:


These are good little motors, basic and simple, yet I see some people get frustrated with them. They are pull start, so some customers with less strength may have difficulty starting them. There is only one cylinder, so they will not be as smooth as their larger counterparts that have 2 cylinders. For the person who only uses it one to two times a year, they need to drain the fuel out of the carburetor (This goes for any engine that sits a lot). Fuel stabilizer will help, but only for about 3-4 months, if your motor sits 10-11 months out of the year, drain the gas from the carb or disconnect the fuel line and run it out of fuel. I also see people trying to push too much weight with these motors. If you have two people weighing 220+ on a 12 foot john boat, you will need a bigger motor. I have heard a complaint that they are louder than the 8-9.9HP Mercury outboards, and they are a little louder, but with that small of a motor if they took the same precautions to make them quiet like they do the 8-9.9 you would end up with a .5 HP motor. The 2.5-3.5 are good on the back of a canoe or kayak or even a lighter person in 10-12 foot john boat, anything else and you would want to look at a bigger motor.   Also bring a small gas can with you, at wide open throttle you will only last about 35-45 minutes before you run out of gas with the little on-board fuel tank mounted to that motor that holds less than a half-gallon of fuel. I know this may sound a little negative, but what I am trying to do is prevent issues before they arise. They are a great engine when used and maintained properly. Easy to carry if you are on a river and need to go ashore to get past a section of rapids, or to hang on a shelf to store so they are out of the way, but they have their limits.

The MerCruiser 4.5L 250HP Sterndrive/Inboard motor:


This motor has been designed and manufactured by Mercury/MerCruiser, unlike the 4.3L which was a GM engine block. In the past the air intake would be facing the drivers and passengers, this would allow them to hear the air being sucked into the engine. On the 4.5L the air intake is facing the aft end of the boat making it a quieter ride.  One of the things Mercury is trying to do is take the proven working parts from the outboards they have produced and use it as a universal part. This will help keep the cost down. You will see the water separating fuel filter is the same as the one used with the Verados. The FSM, exhaust valves, fuel injectors, and ignition coils are the same ones used on the 150 outboard mentioned previously. Ignition coils being used has eliminated the distributor cap, rotor, and spark plug wires that were used on previous engines. This motor will use a Catalyst to help keep the emissions down as well as have the capability to be used with the MerCruiser Axius system (similar to the joystick control system on outboards). For more info on motors and maintenance check out my other blogs on New Gas Tanks Old Engines, Ethanol Fuels Dos and Donts and Boat Motor Maintenance. To learn more about Mercury Motors and the many options available check out their website and give them a like on Facebook.

Jason Wipp

Master MerCruiser Technician

Master Mercury Outboard Technician


Tips From The Power Pros: Help us Help You

Power Pros

The boating industry, like any other industry, is constantly evolving. For the most part this is a good thing. Yes, there are sometimes new products that make us scratch our heads and think Why didnt they just leave this alone, it was fine the way it was?I too am guilty of having this thought. But the truth of the matter is this, in industry today you are either going forward, or backwards. There is no sitting still.

Everyone is making their products with more features, easier to use, or safer for the environment. Which brings us to todays first service topic, your gas tank. In the past if you needed a second gas tank to put on your boat so you could get the extra fishing time in, or just have it in case you ran out of gas in the primary tank, you could just run down to Bass Pro Shops and grab one off the shelf, like this Moeller Tank;

Moeller Tank

then find the correct fuel line attachment, and away you went. Well in 2011 the E.P.A changed the way fuel tanks are made to make them friendlier to the environment. Now, even with the vent open, the fuel tanks will hold 5 PSI of pressure, and boats manufactured before 2011 do not have a fuel demand valve to prevent that pressurized tank from forcing fuel into the engine when it is not needed. This can cause running issues as well as fuel leaking onto the ground or into the water depending on where your boat is parked. This is especially true of Mercury 75-115HP fourstoke engines and all Mercury Verado engines since they do not have a needle and seatshut off valve in the internal fuel system on the engine. With that being said, other motors that utilize the needle and seatsystem on their motors are still susceptible to having that excess fuel pressure unseating the needle and causing fuel to overflow. So if you buy a new gas tank and your boat is older than 2011, you now also need to purchase a fuel demand valve (pictured below)

Fuel Demand Valve

and install it in the fuel line between the fuel tank and the primer bulb, with the fuel flowing in the correct direction (there is an arrow to show you this). For more on fuels check out these service tips on gasoline.

The second service tip Id like to address is bringing your boat in for service when it breaks down. Of course the goal when dropping your boat off for service is to get it back quickly, have it done correctly, and for the fairest cost possible. You can actually help with that process quite a bit. When you bring your boat in and its being written up, do not leave out even the smallest of details as to what was going on before the problem occurred. Be honest if you were working on something or tinkering around with the boat at that time. Did you install a new accessory? Adjust some settings? I know sometimes its hard to admit that you might have caused a problem. I just had to do it with a tool I bought that I made a mistake while using it. I threw the calibration off after I had just sent it in to get it calibrated and had to call and tell the technician who did the work what I had done. Thankfully he gave me an easy fix, and I was on my way. Sometimes it is that easy, but even if its not, at least the technician has a direct path to take to fix your boats problem. Leaving out information to save your pride only makes it that much harder on your technician. Sometimes the problem has nothing to do with anything youve done, but at least armed with the information, the technician can rule out issues right away as well.

Some of the hardest problems I have had to put my forensic detective capon to fix were problems that the customer had no idea they were causing. For the most part, they were just out using their boats like they should be, doing perfectly normal things. These were some odd cases, but I want to share them with you so the knowledge might help you avoid making the same mistakes. Here are some examples:

  •  A customer was out pulling the kids on tubes, the boat is running great. He stops to pull the kids and tubes in, and suddenly the boat is hard to start and runs rough. He brings it to a service station a few days later and no problem is found, yet the next time they pull the kids and tubes in, the same thing happens. It turns out the way the kids and tubes were coming in was the very thing causing the problem. When the kids and the tubes were on the sundeck over the engine, water was running down on the distributor cap. By the time it got to the dealership it was dry. So the lesson to be learned from this case: take precautions to avoid excess water in the area over the engine, like not drying off in that particular part of the boat and moving wet items to another place quickly.
  •  A customers boat just shuts off while running across rough water. I lake test the boat with the spare key and it never happens. I then meet up with the customer at the boat launch when it happened again to him right after picking the boat up. We lake test it together and sure enough, we hit rough water and the boat shuts right down. But I notice something on his key chain, an old college spring break memento, a brass piece that weighed about 2lbs. It was a nice conversation starterbut it would also bounce around on rough water and pull the key down to the off position, shutting the boat off. Easy fix, but again, odd situation.
  • While out fishing all night a customers boat never wants to start. Turns out they kept pulling the extremely wet nets over the side of the boat right above the key switch. Water and key switches dont mix.
  •  A customers boat had sat for a few years, so he went out and bought a new fuel tank for it. As he begins using it he hears an alarm. This customer had bought a new style tank and put it on his older boat, which caused fuel to go in a place it should not be. That caused the vent canister switch to close, causing an alarm.
  •  This one was a costly mistake. Shortly after putting the boat in the water the customer noticed water over the floor. The drain plug was not installed, something every boater has done at one time or another. He drives the boat over to the launch pulls it out of the water on the trailer, drains the water out of the boat, puts the plug in this time and launches off again. After about 2 hours his motor starts making a horrible noise. Turns out the water level was high enough that there was water intrusion into the oil. The motor was severely damaged internally. Since the customer told me the whole story, without holding anything information back, I knew exactly how to deal with his insurance company. His insurance covered his motor through what I would call a dummy clause. I dont know about you, but if youre going to pay my $6000 repair bill, you can go ahead and call me a dummy!

So remember if there is something you think may help the technician diagnose your boat and get it back underway faster please let the service writer know. No detail is too small, and omitting information will only slow things down.

Jason Wipp

Master MerCruiser Technician

Master Mercury Outboard Technician


Slow and Shallow: Tips for Cold Weather and Shallow Water

Now I realize that almost all anglers have heard the typical slow and deep in the winter, but that's not always the case. On numerous occasions I have seen shallow water pay off even during the winter months. One such time was on New Year's Day back in 1982, now that was a while back, but I remember it like it was yesterday. The weather had been cold, but this particular day was similar to the weather we have been having this week, 60 degree temps in January. Perfect North Carolina winter weather right! Back in 82' the weather was up to 58 degrees that day. I had recently read an article about warm water discharges, now I'm not talking about the hot hole at Lake Norman, but something a little different.

What was occurring in my situation was a small creek or branch was running off into a 25 acre farm pond. So what you have here is flowing shallow water, warmed by the sun, emptying into a large body of water i.e. the farm pond. Being a crank bait guy, I tied on a Tennessee shad  colored Bagley bait, and made my cast to the mouth of the creek. Bang!! a 2 pounder hit my line. I thought man this could be a good day. I continued to cast to that opening, using a moderate retrieve while remaining as erratic as possible to hopefully attract the attention of the bass. Second cast, fish on!! this time a 1 pounder. Now I know what your thinking, we want bigger fish right? Well where smaller fish are hanging out you can bet the bigger ones are too. All in all I caught over 20 bass that warm winter day! The largest was just over 3 pounds.

Here is the Bagley bait that I used that day, but just keep in mind If you are more confident with a certain color bait or the food in that area has a certain color then just try to match the baitfish in that area.

bagley tn shad


If you want great quality at a great value try out the XPS Balsa Shads, back in 82' I didn't shop at Bass Pro Shops mostly because there wasn't one close by, but lately these baits have demonstrated an excellent quality and great results for me.

XPS Balsa Shad

The fishing classic is also right around the corner, February 6th-15th. For more information or to check out the different offers this year check out Our Store Page or Bass Pro Shops - Charlotte's Facebook page for event details.


Now the moral of this story: If you are fishing big bodies of water, doing the typical low and slow winter tactic, and your having less than stellar results. You may want to think shallow in winter, remaining close to deep water, especially if the weather has warmed recently compared to normal "winter temps" whatever normal is in NC. Keep in mind that no tactic is full proof, but it is something to look for as I have employed this tactic in waters such as Smith Mt Lake, and Claytor Lake.

Sunrise on the water at Smith Mt. Lake, one of my favorite things about fishing, the morning view.


Smith Mountain Lake is a large reservoir in the Roanoke Region of Virginia, located southeast of the City of Roanoke and southwest of Lynchburg. The lake was created in 1963 by the Smith Mountain Dam impounding the Roanoke River. My favorite accesses are Hales Ford, and Hardy Ford. However these other access are great spots to get on the water, Oakgrove, penhook, Scruggs #8 and Anthony Ford #4


  • Area: 32 sq miles (82.88 km²)
  • Surface elevation: 795' (242 m)
  • Mean depth: 55' (17 m)
  • Shore length: 497.1 miles (800 km)
  • Inflow source: Roanoke River
  • Fish: Striped bass, Largemouth bass, Smallmouth bass


Just remember while you are on the water, if a traditional tactic isn't working, don't be afraid to change it up and try something new; what do you have to loose?

Happy Fishing~

Tim Cline

Team Lead Fishing








Kayaking Fun: National Whitewater Center

Have you ever thought kayaking will be fun? It is and you can trust us, but we didn't necessarily want to invest the kind of money it takes to purchase a new kayak for our first time out. Well for those of you near Charlotte, NC you are in luck. 


The National Whitewater Center is a place where you can rent kayaks among other things and try them out on the Catawba River. The U.S. National Whitewater Center is a non-profit outdoor recreation and athletic training facility for whitewater rafting, kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, mountain biking, and hiking which opened to the public on November 4, 2006.


Since we were all relatively new to kayaking we decided on the flat-water area along the Catawba River. Here is the flat-water launch, which offered not only an easy way to get in, but preliminary instruction on proper technique.

flatwater launch

If you are interested in the whitewater the center offers check out this map, it has pictures like the one below of the different obstacles that you could face if you are adventurous enough for the whitewater.


We had to stop by Bass Pro Shops to grab some supplies before getting on the water, though. I knew I would need comfortable shoes for all the walking we would endure but I didn’t want to deal with soaking wet tennis shoes. I found the perfect pair of water shoes called World Wide Sportsman® River Rat Water Shoes for Ladies.

River Rat

They kept me from falling when we got out of the kayak onto the island where the bank was covered in slippery mud. Usually I would get a blister from wearing new shoes but this pair didn’t seem to bother my skin at all!

Another necessity for the trip was a dry bag. The importance of a dry bag cannot be stressed enough, as you will see in the video below they come in handy. As unpleasant as going in the water can be it could have been worse, if it were colder. Check out the other kayak blog invoving unplanned dips in the water. I selected the Simms® Dry Creek® Tech Pouch because I didn’t have as much stuff to carry as Lindsey did.



Lindsey decided on the Ascend® Round Bottom Lightweight Dry Bag since she had a change of clothes, a towel, her cell phone, Elena’s cell phone and their I.D.’s and debit cards. Her bag had lots of room, enough for two people’s belongings.

The most important part of our day, of course, was BREAKFAST! Since it was so convenient we grabbed some breakfast at the Uncle Bucks Snack Shop inside Bass Pro Shops - Charlotte, NC. I enjoyed two freshly made jelly biscuits and an orange juice while Elena and Lindsey got bagels and water. After fueling up and hydrating, we were off to the Catawba River for a day of kayaking and hanging with our fellow co-workers and friends. We met a lot of nice people at the White Water Center. They were happy to answer any of our questions and show us proper technique. Everyone had a great time and we were all sore the next day which has to mean we got a work out, right?

Our adventure to the National White Water Center in Charlotte was a blast! I truly recommend a visit if you are pondering the new hobby of kayaking, its a fun and inexpensive way to try it out.

~Happy Kayaking

Amanda Goodman

Front End Team Lead


Ascend Kayak: DIY Customization

I  have an Ascend D10T Sit on Top Kayak, it is a great boat with tons of features that are typical of higher priced boats. The value of this boat is amazing and gives the entry level kayaker a great jumping off point. The D10T Sit-On-Top Kayak delivers great performance out on the water at a great value.

Designed to meet the needs of all kayakers, the D10T starts with an advanced tunnel hull design, incorporating hydrodynamics that balance stability, maneuverability, and speed. The Deluxe Seat provides all day comfort with its extra padding and ergonomic, fully adjustable design. Adjustable foot braces allow for maximum flexibility and comfort regardless of water types or conditions.

The kayak's large open cockpit gives you greater flexibility in cargo management as well as offering easy entry and exit at the shore with little restriction of movement out on the water. With deep molded storage on the port and starboard sides, large molded storage trays big enough for a standard-sized tackle box, and other useable quick stow areas, this kayak gives you plenty of room for gear storage.

A built-in multipurpose sternwell gives you a convenient storage space large enough for a five gallon bucket, dry bag, or a 36 quart cooler. Wide gunnels and plentiful molded flats give the hardcore paddler or extreme angler a place to stow secondary accessories. Quick hold paddlekeepers molded into the Port and Starboard gunnel allows a stable resting point for your paddle when loading or launching your kayak. Multiple drain holes in the sternwell, seat pan, and footwell areas keep water from pooling in the bottom of the kayak.

The D10T comes with two Scupper Plugs for the seat pan area for winter paddling or rough water days. At the end of the day, the threaded and sealed drain plug allows you to quickly drain excess water, while the 2 molded-over rubber grip handles make carrying the kayak a simple task.

Ascend D10T

  • Advanced hull design: Custom crafted hydronamic hull encompasses an extended keel integrated into a low profile tunnel hull to achieve a perfect blend of maneuverability, tracking, and stability
  • Adjustable cushioned seating system: Ergonomic seat design with closed-cell custom foam package reduces wear and fatigue
  • Adjustable foot braces: Fully adjustable 15" foot braces will fit anyone approximately 5'2" to 6'2" in height comfortably
  • Deck drybag storage system: Watertight removable deck plate with integrated watertight PVC soft storage bag
  • Multipurpose sternwell: Extra-large-capacity sternwell will accept a five gallon bucket, baitwell, milk crate, cooler, or doubles as general space for a dry bag
  • Deep molded port and starboard open storage: Allows maximum flexibility for storage on the water
  • Durable high density polyethylene construction.


This kayak was great from the get go, I have really enjoyed the stability of the boat as well as the smaller price tag. However, being an avid bass fisherman, I wanted more. Ascend does make fishing versions of all the kayaks we make. But I have long been a sit on top guy and didn't want the 12' long fishing version Ascend® FS128T Sit-On-Top Angler Kayak . Don't get me wrong it is a great boat but kinda heavy if you are launching with only one person. My solution was to get the D10T and customize it the way I wanted. I started out like most would, I talked to people who had the kayak, what did they like about it and how did they fish from it. After those discussions I attempted a fishing trip or two with the milk crate option, you can see it here in my previous blog on kayak fishing. It worked ok but i wanted something better that was fully attached to my yak.

If you decide that you would like some orgininal parts for your ascend kayak, all you have to do is come into our camping department and the assoicates can help you order some of the parts you will see me use here that aren't available in the store. There are three different types of rod holders that I have installed on my yak. Each are unique in the manner in which they work, but pretty much all of them attach to the kayak in the same manner.

Here is a map of the locations in which I have mounted rod holders to my D10T as well as paddle clips.

locations of rod holders

The first type of Rod holder that I installed was the Replacement Kayak Flush Mount Rod Holder which requires you to cut a decent sized hole in your boat.

flushmount holder   flush mount

Keep in mind with this style of holder that you need the kayak version; most marine rod holders, the cheaper options have drain holes in the bottom of the holder. You wouldn't want that feature as it would cause water to fill up the inside of your boat. Also, take into consideration where you paddle and what is in reach before you go cutting holes in your boat. The last thing you want is to install it, then learn it's in the path of your oar, or that you can't reach it comfortably from the water. Due to the angle on this holder your hole will need to be oblong and not a perfect circle, also consider the depth of the rod holder in relation to your hull design its about 7 inches deep.

The second style of Rod Holder that I installed was the Ascend  Fully Adjustable Rod Tender. Which is similar to the Bass Pro Shops Rod Holders but with a differnent lockable base.

Lockable base Rod Holder

Notice the raised base with locking slide, this worked great for the position I choose since it raises the rod holder up slightly behind the seat on the starboard side of the boat. Now this holder comes with rivets as most do, but I opt out of rivets for stainless lag screws. Using screws makes it easier to change them out if I should break a mount later on down the road.

The third style of Rod Holder I installed was the flush mount base similar to the Bass Pro Shops Rod Holder, but with a flush mount base, which you can purchase in the store seperately. The twin pack of rod holders comes with side mounts, which may work for your application, but i prefered the flush mount for my yak.

flush mount rod holder

I chose to mount this holder on the port side of the boat a little further behind the seat due to the hieght of the holder, this will allow me to spin around and reach for this holder. It will also be in a good position for trolling if necessary.

Now that we have run through the three options concerning style of holder, I will go through the steps involved in mounting a rod holder.

For this process you will need a few tools:

  • Marker
  • Exacto Knife or razor blade
  • screw driver (phillips)
  • rotozip (or a device to cut the bigger holes, however you choose to do this is fine as long as you get the proper size hole cut)

Once you have decided on the postition simply use a marker to locate the location of needed holes.

marker      roto cut

Since this is a flush mount I marked the large hole needed for the underside of the mount. Using a rotozip I began to cut this hole, always start in the center from where you need it to be. You can always make a hole bigger but not smaller. After the large hole is cut using the mount as a guide simply mark where to screw the stainless lag screws into the plastic hull. Making these holes can be done by hand using the screws or with a drill, I like by hand since it will be a tighter fit and reduces the chance that you strip out the mounting holes. Once you hand drill these holes using the screwdriver and screw it leaves a bulge of plastic that would incumber the mount from being flush with the hole.

drilling mount holes      plastic bulge

Using an exacto knife or razor blade trim the excess plastic down flush with the hull. Also clean up the edges of your main hole as well.

exacto cut     clean up the edges

Once you have cleaned all these edges make sure to clean the hull before applying your sealant. Any bathroom grade waterproof but flexible caulk will do, I used white, but you could go with a clear. Be generous with the caulk around the large hole, we can remove any excess once the mount is in place.

applying caulk      caulked up

Place your mount into the hole and position your screws. I put a small amount of caulk in the holes on the mount as well as what was positioned on the hull earlier. This makes sure you get a water tight fit. Once you have everything tight, come back with a rag or q-tip to clean up the excess caulk.

screw it on    clean up excess

Now you have a finished product that will provide you years of fishing fun from the deck of your Ascend D10T Sit on top. As you can see it is realitively easy to turn your boat into a fishing kayak.

Next I wanted to put some clips in for my paddle. Some boats come with these, but the Ascedn D10T simply comes with a channel to place your oar in. If you are fishing in rough water or if you get a really big fish on, you will want ot have your oar clipped in and not just resting on your boat.

Clip placement     Clip n paddle

The important part of this install is to make sure the clips will be in reach and that the placement will work for the oar you are using, keep in mind of the water guards on your oar.

Also make sure they are lined up with each other, if these are off your oar may resist clipping in. I like this postiion because it will allow me to set my oar down in the channel and the clips can hold it there momentarily or I can clip them in place if necessary.

oar clip 2

As you can see it is really simple and easy to customize your kayak just the way you want it. Just think about all of your decision thoroughly before you begin. I am sure that my kayak is still a work in progress. Each time I go out I find something else I want to add.

I can almost bet you my next project will be an Anchor Trolly system.

Either way have fun out on the water and open yourself up to all the possibilities and adventures to come.

~ Happy Fishing,

Matt Holland

Events and Promotions Coordinator

Your Adventure Starts Here!







Beating the Heat

It’s that time of year when a lot of fisherman clean up their boat and put it away for a while or start fishing by the light of the moon. With a little preparation, and a lot of perspiration you can still go out and have a good day on the lake.

If you are planning a trip to your favorite lake for a day of fun, or if your meeting your buddies for a tournament  you need to take a few steps to prepare your body for the day. Make sure to hydrate you’re the body before you fish and take several breaks throughout the day to drink and replace the fluids you are losing. Sunscreen and protective clothing are also key items to ensuring you day is not miserable. See the benefits of the proper technical gear in Preperation for Fishing: A New Look


Our store had our High Rock tourney this past week and it reached a temp of 97 degrees. As usual I had a game plan for the day but also as usual I had to make some adjustments as the fish were not on board with my plans. My partner and I started out fishing with top water but that bite was tough. Had a couple of blow ups but didn’t hook up and put them in the boat..


It was almost 9 am and we didn’t have a keeper in the boat, so as were turning to plans b and c when we got a little luck. My partner started tossing a wacky rig Bass Pro Shop Sticko and caught a 3 pounder on a sea wall. On the next dock he got bit again so I decided it was time to tie one on.

To Wacky Rig a Stik-O:


You will need a Bag of your favorite color Stik-O-Worm, Flickin' Shimmy Jig Heads, and a Bass Pro Shops® XPS® Quick Rigger Tool. First thread the tool and rubber ring over your stik-O.


Roll the ring up and onto the middle of your stik-O, then pull the quick rigger off. Now simply put your flickin' shimmy jig hook through the ring instead of through your stik-o.

wacky rig

This setup will not tear up as many baits, especially if you use a soft version of the Stik-O.

Over the next hour and ½ we filled our limit and started working on up grading. What was exciting for me was that we found a pattern, then moved to different locations on the lake that resembled what we had found and caught fish there as well. Remember to be observant to all conditions when you get your bites, if you can replicate that in different locations it can lead to success.

We ended upgrading a couple of pounds on a jig and finished with a little under 13 pounds. Just enough to squeak out a win.

Weighing them

Richard Jordan, tournament director weighing In our sack.

Winning Combination

The reason I mentioned plans b and c was to remind us that we cant give up. There are many days when you have to look into your tackle box and try something else. That morning we struck out on top water, couldn’t get bit cranking, texas rigging a stick bait wasn’t getting it done….it wasn’t until we got out of our comfort zone and moved to deeper water that we found success.

So when the bite gets tough and the sun gets hot…stay cool , stay hydrated and keep fishing….

Good luck , God Bless , and tight lines….

~ Eric Winter

General Manager


Kayak Trip: What to Prepare For

It was the night before our first Kayak trip of the season, I was excited re-spooling reels and getting lures tied on, also planning where to mount the GoPro, I got everything just the way I wanted it on my Acend D10T sit on top Kayak.

The setup

I had decided to get creative, using a standard milk crate, (you can get these at office supplies stores for less than $5); I attached two Bass Pro Shops Rod Holders to either side and a three rod holder to the back of the crate.

Rod Holders

It was the perfect size for my XPS cooler. Notice how this gives you multiple locations for rods and other accessories.


The following day March 11th we were forcasted to hit 70 degree weather in the afternoon. I had been itching to plan a trip ever since winter sat in.  So I planned a trip out with some fellow coworkers to explore the S. Yadkin River near my family's farm in Northern Rowan Co.


We started our adventure at the Green Star above and headed south to the red star. We used the Davie County South Yadkin Access along 601 hwy. We exited the river on my families farm, but if you wanted to recreate this journey you could exit at the Salisbury Pump Station Access just below where the South Yadkin and North Yadkin come together.

We planned to start early morning around 8:30, due to previous weather conditions we didn't get in the water until approximately 9:00am. The previous weather conditions were actually notable, two days prior we recieved three inches of rain in 2 hours. which had the water up considerably. The boat ramp or kayak launch and parking lot were in about 2-4 inches of mud; which slightly complicated our launch, which you will see in the video below.

Ready to Launch

My Ascend D10T is in the center, Nick and Jeremy's are the FS10 sit ins on either side.

Nicks FS10

Nick paddling his FS10 shortly after we launched. Nick's boat is the desert storm color.

Jeremys FS10

Jeremy paddling his FS10, notice his Ascend Dry Bag, Lowrance Elite 4 Depth Finder and custom GoPro Mount. His boat began life as a camo green, but with some personal touches it sports a great custom paint job that helps it blend into any wetland area. Kayaks are really easy to customize to the needs of any fisherman or women or kayak enthusiast.

We contiuned on down the river, learning quickly that the current was a little faster than we had expected, Jeremy's depthfinder was clocking us at 3-4 mph without paddling. Given the swell of the water and the increased current we found ourselves constantly trying to avoid floating trees and other debris in the water. If we had it to do again we would have waited a few more days before making the trip. Due to water conditions the fishing was less than desirable.

Later in the trip Jeremy lost a lure in a tree, since I have the D10T sit on top and its pretty stable, (I have fished standing up in this kayak numerous times) I made what would prove to be a bad decision, check out the following video chronicaling our launch and the river conditions prior to me taking the plunge.

Keep in mind that although this is a bad decision given the weather conditions we will use this as an example of what to do from a preperation standpoint.

  • Always pack a dry bag.
  • a change of clothes
  • towel
  • first aid kit
  • fire starting device

If it had been any cooler or if the weather hadn't been forcasted to warm to 70 degrees, I would have been in trouble. We were 2 miles in to a 7 mile paddle, and to make matters worse the current was so fast that going back to the launch point would have been all but impossible.

We floated further down the river until we came to a good place for me to stay in the yak, change clothes and continue our paddle. If it had been colder we would have been looking for a place to get out and build a fire. After going in the guys asked me on a scale of 1-10 how cold are you? I responded with about a 7. It took about a half hour before I stopped shivering and began to warm up with the mid day sun. Since this trip, I always inform customers of our Ascend Dry Bags and how they can come in handy. Also when conisdering the size of your bag, I suggest bigger is better, especially if you ever plan on a camping float trip.

Overall our trip was a pretty good one, the day progressed with little hiccups after the plunge. Just remember to be prepared, although this was a mistake on my part it could have easily been a log just under the water that couldn't be seen or some other factor that leads to a wet kayaker. Either way go prepared for the situation at hand, and the unlimited possibilities for your adventure.

~ Happy Fishing,

Matt Holland

Events and Promotions Coordinator

Your Adventure Starts Here!





Outdoor Skills Tips: Dress Like an Angler

Say goodbye to those long fishing days when you battled the sun and sweat lugging around that huge tackle box. You were burning up in that heavy cotton shirt, and the back of your neck got so burnt you could barely turn your head to see your buddy land the biggest catch of the day! Say goodbye to the misery and hello to the World Wide Sportsman Nylon Angler's Shirt.


  • 100% quick-dry nylon
  • UPF sun protection
  • Vented cape back with mesh lining
  • 2 large multi-function chest pockets
  • Roll tabs to keep sleeves rolled up
  • Handy rod loop
  • Hidden button-down collar rolls up for sun protection
  • Utility loop on the right pocket

Our World Wide Sportsman Nylon Angler fishing shirt is made of 100% quick-dry nylon that's been enhanced for on-the-water action with built-in UPF sun protection. UPF is an important technology for fisherman and women, read up on all the gear you need to brave the scorching summer sun. This long-sleeve shirt features an improved vented cape back with mesh lining to encourage airflow, 2 large hook 'n' loop chest pockets, roll tabs at the elbows, a handy rod loop, a button-down roll-up collar for sun protection, and utility loop on the right pocket. Machine wash. Imported.

Or if you prefer the short sleeve version of this shirt!

Did you know that the color of your fishing shirt will affect the UPF rating, see the color chart below for these shirts.

Nylon Angler UPF Ratings by Color:

  • UPF 25 +: Glacier
  • UPF 30 +: Haze
  • UPF 40 +: Seagrass, Ocean, Yellowfin, Kiwi
  • UPF 45 +: Fossil
  • UPF 50 +: Coral Reef

For all you ladies out there that love to fish and look good doing it we have the Womens Boca Shirt by World Wide Sportsman.


With all of these features the Nylon Angler Shirt is a must have for fisherman and women, with these features the shirt is almost its own tackle box. Designed with multiple pockets featuring spooling holes, you can spool your rod right from your shirt. This smart design features a sunglasses loop, rod loop and utility loop. Everything you need to carry all your fishing needs. So stop on in and try it on. We look forward to seeing you in the store! Remember ... Your Adventure Starts Here!

Shekea Crowley

Apparel Lead.

Happy Fishing!


Outdoor Skills Tips: Wild Turkey Hunting Shotgun Tips

Outdoor Skills Tips

Once you’ve decided you’re ready to take up wild turkey hunting, there are a lot of considerations that must be taken.  In this blog, I’ll discuss the basics in choosing a firearm, choke tube and shot shell before you venture out on your hunt.


I’ll be honest and say that if you and I were to own the same model shotgun, with the same model choke tube and same shot shells, they probably will not pattern the same.  So, there lies the challenge.  What do you use?


If hunting with a shotgun (rather than archery) you don’t necessarily have to have a “turkey shotgun”.  You can use basically any type of hunting shotgun.  Most people prefer 12 gauge but I use and prefer my Benelli M2 in 20 gauge with a 26” barrel (that thing is super light and patterns quite well!).

You can use about any shotgun, as long as the barrel is threaded so that you can remove and replace choke tubes in the barrel. Pictured below is a Beretta A300 with the choke tube partially out.

a300 threaded tube

Notice how you would use a choke wrench to remove your choke and install a turkey choke of your choice. Keep in mind that turkey shotguns don't have to have threaded tubes; if you have a fixed tube shotgun with a full choke that patterns well enough to do the job you can use it. I have a friend that uses the very first shotgun he ever owned, a Browning 30" barrel fixed choke, he has harvested several toms with this old gun. Threaded barrels allow you to use one gun for multiple reasons.

Here are some shotguns in our upcoming Spring Hunting Sale.

Berretta A300


I particularly like this Turkey / Predator special by Remington. All setup and ready to go out of the box.

Remington Turkey Predator

Even an all black gun will work well, most shotgun manufacturers make these color options. The Benelli Super Vinci is a great choice.

benelli vinci

Choke Tubes:

It can be a bit overwhelming when you are looking at choke tubes to turkey hunt.  There are many manufacturers out there and they all want your business.  The cost range can be as cheap as $25 and can go up to nearly $100, even higher on custom shop choke tubes found on the internet. My advice on purchasing a coke tube is to go ahead and spend a little more and get a good quality choke.  I’ve tried turkey chokes in all parts of the price range.  I’m currently using an Indian Creek Black Diamond choke tube in my Benelli M2.


It is a higher end choke tube and it has proven to be effective. If you arent looking to come off the hip with a large investment for your turkey choke, here are some great values in the upcoming Spring Hunting Sale.


Turkey Shot Shells:

When I talk to customers about what shot shell to use, I’ll be honest with them and say that it’s challenging and sometimes frustrating when it comes to choosing your shells.  There are many choices out there for turkey hunting shot shells.  There are different brands, different shell length, different shot sizes.


Basically, all of the major shot shell manufacturers are making shells for wild turkey hunting.  Choosing a brand is part personal preference but it also has to do with what shoots best in your gun.  Note that my next blog will cover basics in how to pattern your shotgun.  Part of that discussion will have more info on brand choice.

Shell Length:

Turkey shot shells will have more recoil when fired than your standard dove/quail or target load will have.  Take recoil into consideration especially if you’re setting up a gun for a youth or a small framed individual.  A 3½ inch 12 gauge turkey shell most likely isn’t a good choice for them.  If someone small is using a 12 gauge, consider a 2¾ inch or maybe a 3 inch shell.  Better yet, consider that 20 gauge for a small framed individual.  As I stated earlier, I use a 20 gauge with much success and I use 3 inch shells.  That combination has a fairly light amount of recoil.  An even lighter recoil option is a 20 gauge with 2¾ inch shells.  Also remember that longer shells in length will have more pellets available to strike the target, but it will also increase the amount of felt recoil when shooting your gun.

Shot Size:

Traditional shot sizes for turkey hunting are #4’s, #5’s and #6’s.  There are some manufacturers that are now mixing different shot sizes together in each shell to produce a “blend” of shot sizes.  Below is a chart that shows the differences in diameters in each.

Turkey Shot Sizes

In considering what size to choose, keep in mind that #4’s will have fewer number of pellets inside each shell, BUT #4’s will have more energy, or knock down power at a further distance.  So, if you attempt to shoot a bird at 50 yards with shot size #4’s, you’ll have less pellets available to strike the bird in the kill zone, which is the neck and head but it will have more energy, or knock down power that the smaller #6’s.  On the other hand, if you shoot at a bird at 50 yards with #6’s, you’ll have more pellets available to hit the kill zone but will have less energy.  So, it comes down to preference in knock down power at further distances or more pellets at shorter distances.


To help determine what size shot to use in your gun, it’s VERY important to take the time and buy a few different brands and a few different shot sizes “pattern” your gun.  To pattern your gun, you’ll set up paper targets and shoot at different distances to determine what shoots best in the set up you’re considering in you gun. If you prefer an actual turkey to shoot at we sell these lifelike Redhead 12" targets.


  • Special dual-color, flake off technology makes it easy to pattern your shotgun for turkey season
  • Flake off technology provides an explosion of color that can be seen from great distances
  • Kill area shots show florescent green behind turkey image
  • Misses show bright white behind red background
  • Self adhesive to stick to almost any backstop
  • 12'' turkey head image
  • 10 targets to a pack

 Patterning your gun can be come fairly expensive, but it will be worth it in the long run.  if you plan to take your wild turkey hunting seriously and take it to the next level.  If you’ve got a friend willing to pitch in, you can share some of the expense if you both shoot the same gauge shotgun.  You and your buddy can pitch in to buy a few different brands and different sizes of shot shells and go out and pattern your gun to see what shoots best in each or your firearms.  In my next blog, I’ll discuss tips for consideration when you go out to “pattern your shotgun”.

Happy Hunting!

~Richard Plonk

Hunting Lead



Tips from the Power Pros: Four Wheelers 101

Power Pros             ArcticCat

I’m a Mercury/MerCruiser technician and I have been doing it for a long time. Too often it feels like I am on an assembly line. Change impeller, put new spark plugs in, replace a starter, trim solenoid, fuel injector etc, etc, etc. So when I came over to Tracker Marine in Bass Pro Center and my new co-worker in the service bay next to me had a four wheeler apart, it was something new to me, a new challenge to learn. A welcome break from the monotonous routine I seem to have become accustomed to over the years. That and Mike was an avid MotoCross/Supercross follower as well, so we got to talk about the races while we worked.

Mike Hunsucker

One of the biggest issues I saw Mike deal with was the same as in the marine industry: rotten fuel. Too many carburetors and fuel injectors get plugged up by the ethanol in the fuel. You can see my fuel blog here, and this applies to four wheelers as well. You must run fuel stabilizer in every tank of fuel. Also if you only use your quad for hunting, you still need to start it up at least every 4-6 weeks even with stabilizer in the fuel.

Another issue I saw Mike deal with constantly was squeaky brakes. One thing you have to remember is the brake pads are a metallic compound binding down on a metallic disk. They will squeak from time to time. One reason for constant squeaking is the brake calipers not being cleaned. The mud gets up in the calipers and does not let the brake pad release fully, thus causing a lot of squealing.

muddy cat wash me

If you go out and hit the trails you should wash the mud off your quad before it gets dry and hardens like concrete. Also, stay away from the cheap after market brake pads.

Strut not centered

Keeping your machine clean will also help prolong the life of other parts on your quad. Note the photo of the shocks, do you see that the bolt is no longer centered? This will cause a clunking in the suspension while driving.

bottom shock

This picture shows a cable that will no longer retract, causing the rear brake to drag,

cable siezed

also the brake lever would barely move due to rust and mud crammed into where it pivots. The cable and all the shock bushings needed to be replaced on this unit and the brake lever removed and cleaned out. Keeping the machine clean will slow this process down, but eventually they will all need to be maintained and replaced.


Now, I know no one would ever submerge their beloved machine in mud or drive it through a river like this guy would, but if you misjudged a mud puddle or little stream crossing and submerged your unit to where water and/or mud was over the engine, here are some things to consider: you may have a seal that leaks, but not where it is visible or maybe you picked up some weeds or string that wraps around your drive shaft causing your seals to leak.


So when water gets over that seal, you get water in your engine, transmission or differentials. And if you drive it with the water in any of those places you will acquire a rather large bill. I would recommend changing all fluids if you get in deep water or mud. At the very least, check the fluids to make sure they are not contaminated. Even if you own a mud pro style four wheeler with a snorkel, always check and maintain your fluids.  Also clean out the air filter and air box. If you get in so deep that the motor gets shut down, tow the machine in, do not try and start it. It may be hydro locked or have mud and water in the engine. We had a customer who did this and brought his machine to a “We fix everything” shop and they flushed out the engine with water of all things…. over $3000 later we had his machine running again. If you get in that situation, I suggest bringing your quad directly to a certified dealership.

Arctic Cat

By all means, go out and have a great time on your machine, that’s why you bought it! But after you’ve hit the trails hard, don’t forget to give your quad some TLC so you don’t end up losing out on the next fun weekend because of a hefty repair bill.

Jason Wipp

Master Mercury Technician

Master MerCruiser Technician


 In memory of Mike Hunsucker

The “Cat Master”

Mike on a boat


NC Wildlife: Free Hunter Education Course for Women

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will offer a free hunter education course for women on March 28-29 at Bass Pro Shops in Concord, Cabarrus County.


Join us for a hunter education course for women on March 28-29 at Bass Pro Shops in Concord.

The two-day course will provide an atmosphere conducive to learning for women of all ages, with no experience required. This specialized course will be held at Bass Pro Shops, located at 8181 Concord Mills Boulevard, through the Wildlife Commission’s Hunter Education Program and Home From The Hunt™ campaign.

The course is offered on a first-come, first-served basis with limited space available and pre-registration required. The first session will be conducted on Friday evening from 6-9 p.m. with the final session held Saturday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

“There is an increase in female participation in hunting, shooting sports and outdoor recreation, and we want that trend to continue,” said Carissa Shelton, the Commission hunter education specialist who will lead the course. “This course will provide the standard lessons of the Hunter Education Program, but will do so in a gender-specific setting. We believe a specialty course like this creates an appealing environment for those women who prefer it.”

All graduates will receive hunter certification recognized in all 50 states, U.S. territories and many other countries.

For more information or to pre-register, call 919-707-0031

Happy Hunting!

NC Wildlife


Harkers Island for some Redheads

I just recently I got back from what has become an annual duck hunting trip out to Harkers Island, NC. We were hunting on the Core Sound (pictured below) in search of some Red Heads.

Core Sound

The Core Sound is located in Carteret County. South of popular fishing in Hatteras, Okracoke and the Pamilico Sound.

Core Sound Map

Like many old communities on the Southern coast, Harkers Island is undergoing a transformation. People from elsewhere in the state and country are arriving and buying land on the island, building summer houses or settling in as year-round residents. Fishing and hunting and boatbuilding no longer form the core of Harkers Island’s daily life,but rest assured the duck hunting is still as good as yesteryear!

Historical Waterfowl hunting

Photo credits: Harkers Island; photo by Roger Haile. In Carteret County, and hunting party aboard a menhaden boat; photos in the collection of the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum.

The Core Sound Waterfowl Museum, at the southeastern tip of the island where Shell Point juts into Core Sound, provides a snug haven for the centuries’ old traditions of these maritime communities. The museum serves as a center for the preservation and documentation of the region’s material culture, and a gathering place where Down Easterners celebrate and renew old ties.

Museum exhibits display beautiful historical and modern-day examples of the region’s finest decoy carving, as well as handmade nets, crab pots, and other tools of the region’s trades, all of which require a high level of skill and experience to make. Exhibits lovingly showcase the daily lives of their hardy forebears, with handcrafts like quilts and tatting, implements of their various maritime occupations, family letters, sports regalia, and many other treasured items.

Given the history of this region and the success of our trips, Harkers Island will no doubt remain an annual staple in our duck hunting season.

Pictured Below one of the first Red Heads harvested during our trip.

Red Head

This trip we ended up having some extremely cold weather to deal with and I was concerned I did not have enough gear and clothing to stay warm and be able to truly enjoy the trip.

I am extremely cold natured but when I checked the weather after hunting Tuesday only to find that they had changed low yet again to bone chilling 8 degrees wind chill, I was worried to say the least.

This was by far the coldest weather I have hunted in yet since I was born and raised right here in North Carolina and temperatures like this are really not that common.

Some of the clothing I used:

Our premier base layering system, RedHead Enduraskin Long-Sleeve Cold Mock Shirt for Men features AXE Anti-Odor Technology and extra-thick 4-way stretch fabric that is ideal as a base layer in cold temperatures. Moisture-wicking, quick-drying, easy care 82% polyester/18% spande

480 gm, 100% polyster spun fleece fits snugly against your skin yet stretches easily to allow for walking and bending. Elastic waist and handy rear zippered pocket. Gives you total moisture control in all types of waders, keeping you completely dry!

Made with 100% waterproof, windproof, breathable Refuge HS with HyperShield 2.0 Technology, the Drake Waterfowl Systems MST Eqwader Plus 1/4-Zip Long-Sleeve Shirt for Men features pullover style with placket-length zipper for easy on/off, fleece-lining, taped seams, midchest adjustment, neoprene cuffs, magnetic call pouch, and zippered security pockets.

RedHead Waders deliver 100% waterproof protection for the entire family. The flexible 3.5mm neoprene construction traps and holds body heat to give you a shield from the chill of the water. The wader's durable ozone-resistant rubber boots are lined with 600 gram Thinsulate Ultra Insulation to keep your feet warm. Adjustable nylon shoulder straps with quick-release buckles and nylon wading belt help provide a comfortable, customized fit.

 Wader Jacket is a shorter version of our 4-in-1 Parka in a warm waist-length style with elastic bottom for wearing over your waders. The jacket features a 100% waterproof/breathable Bone-Dry membrane; 150 gram ThermoLite Insulation in the body, 100 gram ThermoLite Insulation in the hood and arms; Taslon oxford shell; Ripstop-oxford honeycomb fabric at shoulders and articulated elbows; double storm flap with rain drain; lined collar with chin flap; 3-piece hood; side-seam adjusters; hook 'n' loop cuffs with neoprene barriers; 2 large snap-close cargo pockets; magnetic-closure chest pockets with hidden drainage; lined hand warmers; and license loop. The liner features a water-resistant nylon camo with 100% poly microfiber lining which reverses to brown; built-in shell holders; knit wrists; elastic waistband; micro tricot-lined hand warmers; and 150 gram ThermoLite insulation. Mesh ambidextrious shooting pad pocket with shooting pad included.  

Our Cold Weather System—C.W.S.—is your shield from the full frontal assault that mother nature can unleash in the coldest months of the year, and it will soon become your favorite cold weather system. In driving sleet and blinding snow, you'll stay warm, dry, and comfortable while you stalk your prey. The quiet, waterproof/breathable warp knit suede The quiet, waterproof/breathable warp knit suede features our BONE-DRY 100% waterproof, windproof, breathable membrane, a technical barrier to pounding moisture that also lets your body exhaust perspiration, increasing your comfort level while hunting in inclement weather. C.W.S Bibs feature ultra quiet, waterproof, breathable warp knit suede with 150 grams of Thermolite insulation. Features include integrated adjustable stretch suspender system with dual clip release, 2 front waterproof lock down zipper chest pockets, 2 front slash pocket, 2 waterproof lock down zippered cargo pockets, extra wide belt loops, and two 20 inch waterproof lock down slider leg zippers for easy on and off. 60% cotton, 40% polyester.


Thanks to the hunting gear I had with me I will have to say I stayed warm from the boat ride out until we got back to the landing. After looking over all of the gear I had you may think wow that is a lot of clothing and you are right. I think I looked like the Michelin Man walking around on the marsh that day but I was warm and was able to enjoy the hunt instead of being cold and completely miserable.

Group Photo Limit Out

We had a great hunt, almost limited out all three days as a group, enjoyed the great outdoors and got to experience God’s amazing creation. I have used our Red Head hunting clothes for the last thirteen years that I have been working here and they continue to get better and better. Next time you are looking for new hunting clothing make sure to check out our Red Head brand and compare it to the other.

Red Head Logo

     "150 Years in the Outdoors Since 1856"


Just like one of our print ads says, “ Ducks Don’t Care About The Label On Your Camo”.


Happy Hunting,

Dale Rice, Hunting Manager




Outdoor Skills Tips: Preperation For Fishing ... A New Look

Outdoor Skills Tips

I have fished for years and thought I was pretty good at preparing for a season, or a trip. This winter I found out that for all these years I have been missing some of the most important things in preparation.

I always took the time in the winter to clean my reels, wipe down my rods and make sure my guides are in good shape. I re-spool all my reels and treat my line with reel magic. I go through all my crank baits and change out or sharpen hooks. I go through my pounds and pounds of plastic and re-organize and make a list of what I think I need. I go through my boat and give it a good cleaning, check all my connections and test my pumps. I make sure my trailer hubs are all lubed up, tires properly inflated and ready for a season of travel. I could go on and on, but I have still been missing the most important thing….my body…

I found out around Christmas that I had some melanoma on my back. For those who don’t know , melanoma is an aggressive form of skin cancer that is caused from sun exposure. When found early it is very treatable, but when left alone it can take your life. I have fair skin and a lot of freckles so the sun likes to cook me quickly. For years I was a life guard and have been a tournament and recreational fisherman for 25 years. Years of exposure to the sun finally took their toll. I use to joke about getting off the water with raccoon eyes, being able to see my flip flop tan, well now I know that there are repercussions for my actions. Many days I would forget to apply or re apply sunscreen. I “didn’t have time”, when in reality I was ignorant to what I was subjecting my body to.

I was lucky, and mine was found early by my wife. It was on my back and I may never have found it by myself. After my family doctor did a biopsy and it came back as melanoma my doctor sent me for removal the next day to a specialist. The rest is a long story and to save time I will tell you that I now have a 3.5 inch scar on my shoulder blade to remind me of the dangers of the sun. I get to go and be checked every 3 months for the years to come, because once found to have melanoma you are more likely to have it again.


All this being said I encourage all of us who spend time outdoors enjoying all the beautiful things on God’s green earth that we all take time and educate ourselves to the dangers of the sun. Today there are many ways to protect our skin from sunscreen lotions to clothing. Many tech shirts like our World Wide Sportsman Angler Shirts have upf built in from 20upf to 50upf.

WWS Angler Shirt

  • 100% quick-dry nylon
  • Built-in UPF sun protection
  • Vented-cape back with mesh lining
  • Two large multi-function chest pockets
  • Handy rod loop
  • Roll-up collar for sun protection
  • Hidden button-down collar
  • Utility loop on the right pocket

Made of 100% quick-dry nylon enhanced for on-the-water action with built-in UPF sun protection. Features an improved vented-cape back with mesh lining for superior fit and performance. Includes two large multi-function chest pockets, handy rod loop, roll-up collar for sun protection, hidden button-down collar, and utility loop on the right pocket. Machine wash.


We have several Shorts and pants that have upf built in as well.

WWS Pants

  • NANO-tex® Resists Spills Technology for stain resistance
  • UPF 50+ sun protection
  • Zip-off legs convert pants to 9" shorts
  • Wrinkle-resistant 100% nylon construction
  • Half-elastic waist
  • Total of six pockets
  • Two security pockets with zippers
  • Reinforced belt loops
  • Double-stitched seams

Long days on the water call for versatile clothes like our Hybrid Angler Pant, which features NANO-tex Resists Spills Technology for stain resistance, UPF 50+ sun protection, and convenient zip-off legs that convert to 9" shorts. Wrinkle-resistant 100% nylon construction features a half-elastic waist for full freedom of movement, six pockets (including two security pockets with zippers), reinforced belt loops, and double-stitched seams. Machine wash. Imported.

Hats and fingerless gloves with sun protection, buff headwear and many more products protect your hands and head from damaging rays as well.

gloves and hat

BUFF head gear

I use to think that all that gear made you goofy. Lets think about are spending tons of money to chase a green fish around a big body of water, that you are going to try and catch and then put back in the water… that is really goofy. I now realize that looking cool is not as important as protecting my body so I can spend many more years with my family and spending time outdoors doing what I love….

Cover Up

Cover up, Have fun and be safe!

Thanks for the time, and I look forward to seeing you in the store or on the water….until next time.

Eric Winter

Store Manager 

Bass Pro Shop Concord NC







Power Pros: Whats New in 2014

Power Pros

Hey guys, I know it is still cold out there, but now is the time to start thinking about spring fishing.  The new Tracker Pro Team 175 TXW, Pro Team 175TF and the Pro Team 190 TX are ALL NEW for 2014. 

These boats have been redesigned with new features never before seen on a Tracker aluminum boat.  A few of the new features are designed with comfort in mind.

Check out the new recessed trolling motor foot pedal on this 175 TXW

recessed trolling motor foot pedal

This feature will help you on those long fishing days. Fatigue is greatly reduced and you dont have to chase your footpedal all over the boat. This is one creature comfort that you will notice the benefit the first time out.

The new consoles for 2014 are well designed with smart phones in mind. The below photo shows an iphone in the holder, the holder has grips and a small bungee cord to hold your phone firmly in place. There is a convenient 12v receptacle for charging your phone as well.

new console

On the 175TXW and the 190TX they feature a front livewell and storage in the floor and under the seats for your keys and wallet.

Its nice to have two live wells to choose from and both of them not being in the back of the boat.

Front Live well

There is plenty of space for all the fish you'll be catching in your brand new tracker!

Back Live Well

The back live well has a divider so technically you have three live wells, great for those tournaments where there is a trash fish category and you need a bigger live well.

Check out all this storage!

Storage under seats

This year model the cup holders have been moved from the middle seat step to the floor in front of the seat, no more hitting your beverage of choice as you go from the back of the boat to the front. New for the 2014 models is the water proof storage under the middle console seat, pictured below.

Dry Storage

Similar to the dry storage common in kayaks this will give you a guarenteed place to keep your cell phone and keys protected from the elements, a great way to utilize the space.

waterproof canisters

Note the new cooler in the floor for 2014 models, it helps keep everything exactly where you want it and need it, this is with out a doubt the most versatile aluminum boat out there!



New for 2014 are these great looking paint schemes, the 2014 line up has the newest technology put into aluminum boats. The New Diamond Coat paint on the bottom of the boat is a revolutionary change. The two pictured options are available on the 175 TXW, 175TF and the 190TX.

175TXW in black:


175TXW in red:175TXWRED

175TF in Metalic Light Charcoal:


175TF in Blue:


190TX in Metalic Light Charcoal:

190TXcharcoalPro Team 190TX is also available in black and light grey.

Our New Ultimate Finish:

Diamond Coat Boat

This new paint process is 3 times harder and 4 times thicker than regular paint processes, it is the ultimate finishing touch.

diamond coat

This finish will last much longer than traditional paint processes, if all the numbers and statistics dont sway you the looks will, it looks awesome!

Come check out the new line-up, you won’t be disappointed!

Bass Tracker 2014

Thanks for reading come out and see me or any of the knowledgable and professional salesmen here at the Bass Pro Shops - Charlotte Location!

Happy Fishing,

Bryan McConnell

Boat Salesman

Bass Pro Shops

Concord, NC


Outdoor Skills Tips: Off Season Archery Maintenance

Outdoor Skills Tips

Now that Bow Season is over there are several things you should consider with regards to bow maintenance.  During hunting season your bow is your friend and steps you take during the off season will make it a better friend. Plus an ounce of prevention is often worth a pound of cure.  


This is the time you want to check that all screws are tight, there are several screws no matter what brand of bow you have. Check all accessories, your quiver, sight, and especially the screws on your cams.

Clean Cam

Concerning cams, look for any debris in the cams, and check your servings and D loop for wear. Pay attention to the serving at the small string stop on the cam pictured below...

Servings string stop

The contacts on the Draw stop on your cams is a pressure point that will first show seperation and then the serving will begin to unravel.

Also look closely at where your peep sight is and make sure you have no broken strands in the string material and that your peep serving is still in good shape. 

peep sight

Early detection will keep you from having to replace your string.  Again an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Don't forget your cables as well pirticurlaly where they contact the cable slide.  

cable slide


We're often asked how often you should wax your strings and cables.  A good rule of thumb is after inspection if you think you have too much wax on them, then put just a little bit more.  We would rather see more wax than not enough. A great product for this is Tex Tite.

tex tite


For those that shoot Crossbows it is impearitive that you are using a good quality rail lube.  Scorpion Venom Rail lube is an excellent product that will maximize speed reduce noise and extend rail life, it is also odorless and waterproof.

Scorpion Venom Crossbow Rail Lube

Scorpion Rail Lube is chemically composed to provide extreme slip without tac, Scorpion Venom crossbow rail lube boasts a uniquely crafted formula that reduces friction, dampens noise, and extends rail life. No need to wax the serving making contact with the rail that would otherwise cause wax build up, friction, and serving separation. Apply to the barrel of the crossbow; one or two passes is all you need using the mess-free applicator.

Lube rail

You should be lubeing the rail after every 10 to 15 shots.  Do not use string wax on the rails.  Wax is for strings and cables only.  If used on the rail it will wear your serving faster by attracting dust and dirt that will act as an abrasive.   

Remember a little TLC now will make for fewer problems in the future. Make sure to inspect your bow or crossbow before every use, with proper inspection and maintenance you should have a worry free Archery season. Happy Hunting!  

Tim Bloodworth

Archery Lead



Tips from the Power Pros: Off Season Boat Storage

Power Pros

Fall has come out of nowhere. Another summer has come to an end. The days are getting shorter and the weather colder. The boating season is coming to a halt as football season, hunting season, and Old Man Winter approach. This is a critical time for your boat. How you lay your boat up for the winter months is crucial for your pocket book and keeping up the value of the investment you have made.

Sterndrive owners:

This is the most crucial service you can have performed on your boat. Have you ever filled a glass container with a liquid and put it in the freezer to cool off quickly, only to forget about it? It froze and busted! The same thing will happen to your cast iron engine block if it is not winterized properly.


Check out this damage caused by improper winterization.

broken block

See the below chunk of the block not where it is supposed to be.



Since ALL sterndrives, (yes, even the closed cooling models) use the water you are driving on to keep them cool, there is the possibility of freeze damage during the winter months. Yes, a closed cooling model has antifreeze in the motor just like your car, but it circulates through the heat exchanger and it is cooled off by the lake water which is pumped out of the lake. So you have to have the heat exchanger and water pump winterized to avoid freeze damage. Most smaller boats running on fresh water do not use a closed cooling system. In these cases you have the complete cooling system of that engine full of water.

I can’t possibly cover “how to” winterize your boat, as there are multiple manufacturers out there, each of whom change their draining configuration. It would be impossible for me to go into every single engine. I suggest you have your boat winterized by a professional. For those of you who feel as though you already know how to winterize your boat and plan to do so, consider this: Let’s say you winterize your boat 5-6 years in a row with no problem, but on the 7th year you forget something. That engine block that just cracked on average for a single engine boat will cost you $5000. Was $5000 the seventh year worth the money you saved the first six?

The most common mistake I see with “do-it-yourself” jobs is pulling a drain plug, not seeing any water come out, and assuming the block is empty…..but it’s not. Maybe you went near a sand bar or murky water and you have mud damming up the water so it won’t drain. Every spring I see this costly mistake. If you pull a plug and nothing comes out, use a pick and shove it up the hole to free up the mud and drain the water out.  There are several more common pitfalls that cost well-meaning, frugal boat owners who hope to save a buck and winterize their own boat literally thousands of dollars. So I still stand by my advice to have a licensed, certified technician who works for a reputable dealership winterize your boat for you. There is so much more to winterizing than just draining the water, such as fuel treatment, battery storage, changing the fluids (now is the time of year for fluid changes, see previous blogs on this topic) and fogging the cylinders down to prevent rust. It’s always better to have a professional who will stand behind their work take care of this maintenance.  IF you still decide that you want to winterize yourself, at the very least, get the specific manual for your motor.  Also keep in mind that your boat may have a heater, ballast tanks, a fresh water system, a head or an air conditioner.  A professional will know how to handle each of those items.

In the past you may have been told to fill the gas tank up before storage. This was to prevent condensation in the fuel tank.  The addition of ethanol to fuel has changed that old rule. With ethanol there is a process called phase separation (see my fuel blog) where the ethanol separates from the gas, then pulls the moisture out of the air where the ethanol and the water will then mix leaving you with water in the fuel.  Now it’s best to run the fuel as low as possible, leaving just enough for the technician to winterize the boat.  The best case scenario would be if the tech ran out of gas just as they finish the winterize!


Outboard owners:

All of the water drains from your engine as soon as you turn it off. However, you should still have it winterized by treating the fuel, fogging the cylinders, and changing the fluids.  It is possible to have water get into the gear lube by way of a leaky seal.  If there is enough water present in the gear lube, it can freeze and crack your gear housing. The average cost for a gear housing is roughly $2200.  This is also true of stern drives as well.

Check out the damage that can happen from water in the gear lube.

cracked drive

Covering your investment for the winter:

Shrink wrap is the way to go even if you live in an area that does not get a lot of snow. A good shrink wrap protects against UV damage. I see way too many boats that are only 4-5 years old with the seats all dry rotted from sun damage. Get a good cover for the summer time, (and use it consistently) and shrink wrap your boat for the winter. If you live in an area that gets a great deal of snow, you may have heard cover companies boasting that they make covers that are just as good as shrink wrap.  Don’t fall for this gimmick!  You’re paying a lot more for a cover that can still collapse, rip, and cost you a nasty mess in the spring.  A good shrink wrap, using the correct materials, will help prevent water, sun, and animal damage.



During a long period of the boat being covered (even if stored indoors) I recommend a product called No Damp, by Star Brite.


No Damp

 There is a package design with a coat-hanger piece meant for hanging in a closet that works best in a boat.  This product helps remove the moisture that causes mildew on the interior of the boat during storage.

The cost of storing your boat for the winter can be overwhelming, especially with the holidays approaching.  Even so, cutting corners for winter storage can make for very costly repairs in the spring or can shorten the overall life of your boat.  An investment now can save you hundreds, even thousands later.


Jason Wipp

Master Mercruiser Technician

Master Mercury Technician


Family Focus: Joyce Kilmer - Slickrock Wilderness Area

Joyce Kilmer Wilderness Area

trail map

Recently, my family and I visited a part of the state that none of us had been to.  We traveled to Robbinsville NC for a weekend stay.  While we were in the area, we decided to make a trip to the Joyce Kilmer – Slickrock Wilderness area.  While there, we enjoyed the trails which make a loop through the forest.  The trail leads past several of the giant poplars that the wilderness area is known for.

Giant Poplar

Details At a Glance

Trailhead: Cheoah Ranger District
Overall Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 2mi
Steepness: Hilly
Tread Condition: Some Obstacles
Allowed Uses: Hiking


This figure-8 loop trail travels through a spectacular, virgin forest, one of the largest tracts of uncut forest in the Eastern United States.The forest around this trail is designated the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest. This is a fitting memorial for an individual who is best know for his poem, "Trees". A monument inscribed with the poem lies at the mid-point of the hike, where the figure-8 trails cross. Excellent representation of original, native cove hardwood forest with enormous trees. Well-designed trail with creek crossings on bridges. Connects with trails in the larger, wilder Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness Area.

While hiking the trails, we were constantly stopping to look at the things that were all around us.  At one point, our 2 girls stepped right over a small snake that was in the middle of the trail.  It turned out to be a small ringneck snake (pictured below).

Ring Snake


  This little snake was in a hurry to move off the trail as we came lumbering by.  This was also a great opportunity to remind our kids to slow down and look more closely at the surroundings.  We were all in too big of a hurry and this was a reminder that we needed to slow down.  We made the loop through the forest, seeing several other impressive poplars.  At one point, we stopped to the sound of water rushing down the hillside, even though there wasn’t a stream to be seen.  It turned out that there was a subterranean creek just under one portion of the trail.  The earth had collapsed and opened a small hole about the size of a basketball that allowed us to hear the water below.  We would later cross the small stream of water further down the slope after it had resurfaced. 


At the end of the hike, we found ourselves taking a few minutes to sit by the primary creek that runs through this section of the wilderness area.  Little Santeelah Creek is fairly small at this point, but has several small pools and falls near the parking area, making it ideal for a little exploration.  The kids had a great time just sitting and watching the water flow by.

Relaxing by the creek

Of course I took advantage of the time and spent an hour or so fly-fishing for the small rainbow trout that seemed very plentiful.  It seemed that each small pool, eddy or pocket held an eager little rainbow that was more than willing to eat the small caddis patterns that I had tied on.  Short, accurate casts were the name of the game in this creek.  With the recent rains and slightly off colored water, several casts to a likely holding spot were often rewarded with a splashy strike. 

If you find yourself in the area around Robbinsville NC, you owe it to yourself to take a quick trip over to this great wilderness area. If you are interested in hiking western NC check out this interactive map.


Ron Kinney

Operations Manager

Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World




A Day on the Water: Special Blessing

I believe that every day on the water is a blessing, but some days are even more special….the following is one of those days.

The day begins as a thin layer of fog is lifting from water and sun is about to peek out over the edge of the lake. It is a cool morning in the North Carolina mountains when my fishing partners arrive at the ramp.



Every year I donate a trip for the YMCA to auction off to raise money and this year’s winners wanted to bring their young ones out for a day of fun. John and his 2 young boys John Peter, aka JP, age 8 and Jacob age 6 were chomping at the bit to get on the water. Wes and his daughter Jeannie age 7 were also ready to put some fish in the boat. Since there were 2 families I brought a great friend and fellow Bass Pro employee Stokes McCellan to help me hopefully give these folks a trip of a life time.

pre blastoff

Stokes and the boys headed out for a few hours of trolling, while the rest of us set out for some top water and early morning bass action. It didn’t take long for Jeannie to start pulling in the fish. She had us down 3 to zero in just 5 minutes. We had a blast over the next 3 hours and caught more fish than we could keep up with. Wes even took a break from bass fishing for Wes to work on his fly rod fishing techniques.

2 boys with bluegill


While we were catching fish like crazy the other boat was getting loaded as well. That team caught some monster bluegill, crappie and a ton of bass while trolling the banks and the middle of the lake. There wasn’t a minute or two went by that we didn’t hear ‘fish on’ coming from that boat.


When we met back at the ramp to swap around partners Jacob and John were ready for big time bass action. Once again it doesn’t take long before boats are calling out ‘ fish on’ .  Jacob was only 6 but that little man was fired up and was catching fish on nearly every cast. He was throwing a shakey head and catching fish like crazy. John and Wes got serious and started throwing jigs and creature baits and the big fish started chewing. We started landing 3 ,4 and 5 pounders all afternoon.


Wes with his Bass!

John with bass

It wasn’t too long before Jacob was ready for a snack and to get back to trolling, so we met on the water and we picked up JP, dropped off Wes and Jacob with Stokes , and got back at it.  JP wasted no time and was sacking fish left and right. Although he was only 8 he was making great casts and figured out quickly where the bass should be. He also relieved me of some of my guiding duties and wanted to take all the fish off and release back into the lake. My thumb was extremely grateful as it was torn up from all the fish we had caught that morning. I am not sure who had more fun …JP catching fish or his Dad taking pictures and capturing the moment on film.

Eric with Fish

I have a great passion for fishing and truly love to share that passion with others, especially when it is young ones. I believe that these kids would have a good time even if we didn’t catch a fish, but the fact that we whacked them all day made it easy for the young ones to enjoy the day. Every day you won’t catch like fish like we did on this trip, but you have to go and spend time with youngsters and give them the opportunity to fall in love with the outdoors. In today’s world there are so many other things for kids to do, that if we as outdoorsmen don’t take the time to introduce kids to the outdoors our way of life could be lost in just a few generations. I am blessed that I get to work with people that have my same passions.. I am blessed that every day I get to share with customers a little bit of knowledge…I am blessed that I live in a country that affords me these luxuries.

Jacob and eric

Jacob and I with our Catch!

girl with fish

So at the end of the day we stayed and fished a couple hours past our time, but the fish were biting so what are you gonna do…stay and fish of course. When all was said and done we had caught well over 100 fish on our expedition. Not too shabby for a ½ day trip in August. I am not sure when I will see these kids again but I believe when they close their eyes( at least for few days) they will remember the fish they caught today and hopefully when they wake up be ready to go again.…


tuckered out


Eric Winter

General Manager

Bass Pro Shop

Concord NC




Be a Duck Commander with the New Grizzly® 1654 Sportsman

ALL NEW for 2014, the GRIZZLY® 1654 Sportsman is a unique boat perfect for waterfowl hunting.

1654 Sportsman

Available in two optional camo schemes to match your hunting area, this boat is also loaded inside with great features. Raised fore and aft decks provide great vantage points while fishing. Both even feature a seat base for setting up the fold-down fishing chair. It also has port and starboard rod boxes that can also be used as gun boxes.

top view

One of the most versatile features is the removable gun box on the starboard side, no matter the conditions you can protect your gun and gear from the water back to dry land.

Gun Box Out

For duck hunting, the VERSATRACK® accessory-mounting system in the gunnels is ready to accept your choice of optional blinds to keep you out of sight of your quarry.

duck blind

Beavertail boat blinds are available through

For your convienance, welded-in eyes at the four corners of the deck allow you to install anchor poles to keep your boat solidly in place while you wait!

welded eyes for poles

Plus, the 1654 Sportsman sports a Mod V hull for a smoother, drier ride than you would find on a flat bottom boat. And its all-welded hull translates into extreme longevity. Overall, this is one of the toughest, most versatile and easy-to-maneuver hunting/fishing boats around. Customize your boat today at Tracker Boats.


For additional information on boats available at the Charlotte location contact our knowledgable sales staff at 704.979.2200.


Happy Hunting

~Matthew Holland

Special Events and Promotions Coordinator





Tips from the Power Pros: Sterndrives

Power Pros

This past week I have seen some major damage to an engine, so I would like to reiterate the importance of impellers (addressed in my previous blog) and how they pump the water to cool off the motor.  A customer came in because his boat had over heated. He had originally brought the boat to an inexperienced, cut rate boat repair shop that will take in all brands, but has no specialization in one. They installed a new impeller and sent him on his way. After the boat left him stranded on the water twice, he decided to bring it to us. I was amazed at the lack of attention to detail I saw on this motor. Right from the start I saw that the previous over heat had caused the exhaust bellows to melt into pieces back on the transom. Inside the boat, the exhaust tubes were burnt and melted. The engine would barely shift due to the fact that the shift cable was melted. The engine wire harness was melted to the exhaust, the water pump with the new impeller was also damaged. That’s not the worst of it, though, the motor had water in the oil due to a blown head gasket.

water corrosion

See the damage caused by the blown head gasket due to the small inexpensive impeller.

This is an expensive bill, an “I could have gone to Hawaii instead” sized bill. All this could have been prevented by simply following the MerCruiser maintenance schedule. The boat is 7 years old, but it only had 31 hours on it, so either the owners did not know what they needed to do to maintain the motor, or they thought “It only has 30 hours on it”. Impellers are rubber, they get old and brittle even if they do not get used much. Had the impeller been changed after three years as directed, this could have been avoided. Educating yourself and following the suggested maintenance schedule can do wonders for your wallet.

Since I have mentioned the term “Bellows” above, I would like to talk a little about them as well. Bellows (A.K.A. boots) are an accordion shaped type of rubber material that covers the shift cable and u-joints where the outdrive enters the boat.

Bellow Kit


They are used on both MerCruiser Alpha and Bravo sterndrives (other brands have them as well). There is also a third one called the exhaust bellow. What they do is prevent water from entering the boat by being able to flex up and down and side to side all while holding a water tight seal, therefore allowing you to be able to steer and trim your boat.  The exhaust bellow provides a flexible tube that forces the exhaust down through the outdrive, giving you a quieter boat ride. Now if either the shift cable bellow or the u-joint bellow tear, your boat will begin taking on water. It may be a few drips if the hole isn’t very big, or water could enter in a large quantity if the breach is big enough. If the amount of water coming in can’t be matched by what your bilge pump is getting out, your boat will sink. 

critter damage

This bellow came off of a pontoon boat, luckily; if this had been on a stern drive it would have sunk the boat. This damage was due to a critter of some sort most likely a muskrat.  

Also if you rely on the bilge pump to take care of the extra water until you “get around” to making the repair, remember that a $ 0.25 fuse is all that’s keeping the bilge pump going. That’s not something I would want to put all my faith in for long.

If the water getting to the u-joint goes undetected for too long due to a slower leak, damage to the u-joints and the gimble bearing occurs. The water washes away the lubricants and the metal corrodes and rusts.  If damaged u-joints or a gimble bearing get left un-checked because you leave your boat on a hoist or trailer, after awhile, if either gives out under load, major damage can occur. Just think…case hardened steel turning at the same RPM as the engine coming loose with an aluminum housing around it. Aluminum loses. And so does your check book. There are other important parts water can damage if the level gets high enough in the bilge to where it can reach electrical components, such the trim pump and the starter.  If water gets higher than that, it can possibly get into the oil pan. If the exhaust boot tears, it just allows a little exhaust to leak out, causing the boat to sound louder. No water will get into the boat with a torn exhaust bellow. Keep in mind too, that most insurance companies will not cover an event like this because it was lack of proper maintenance that caused it, not an impact or other covered event.

Here is a tip to help you increase the life span of your bellows. If you leave your boat in a slip, leave your outdrive in the down position with the outdrive facing straight out the back (as it would be if you were driving straight).

This is the most relaxed position for the bellows to sit in so they aren't being stretched all the time. By allowing the bellows to relax this lessens the strain on the rubber and gives the bellows longer life. Note the two bellows below, they are the same bellow, when in the straight position you can't even notice the gaping tear, but when turned you can easily see how water could enter your bilge.

bellow straight

The average life of a bellow is about 8-10 years, but the environment can affect that as well. Being rubber, they are at risk of dry rot.  Putting the outdrive in this relaxed position also prevents muskrats from getting up to the shift bellow and chewing on it. Yes, there has been many a boat sunk by muskrats chewing on bellows. They also chew on transducer cables, speedo tubes and any wire within their reach.  If you leave the boat in a hoist, put it in the same position. If you trailer it, try to keep your outdrive centered but in the up position. Some people center their outdrive and lower it when they park their boat, but all it takes is forgetting to raise the outdrive once to end up dragging it down the road and costing yourself money. The cost of that is far more than replacing the bellow, so I would say leave it up if you trailer your boat.   

For more on maintenance see our other informative blogs!

Boat Motor Maintenance

Ethanol Fuel: Do's and Don'ts

Maintenance: Batteries and Impellers

Happy Boating!

Jason Wipp

Master MerCruiser Technician

Master Mercury Outboard Technician