A cool breeze hits the back of your neck as you slip off the trailer and into the water for the first time this spring. Turning to your depth finder to check the temperature of the chilly water, you begin thinking of the possibilities the day, the month, the rest of spring, summer, and fall have in store for you. Anticipation overwhelms you as you turn the key to crank your engine as you did a hundred times the year before. All of the excitement and anticipation is washed away as the only response your key gives you is a click and the doom of having a dead battery.
Getting the boat out for a new fishing season is always exciting. Catching fish and relaxing on the water with friends and family is on the horizon. There is always some prep work to be done before getting your boat to the water though. I like to start by taking everything out of the boat and getting it aired out nicely from being stored all winter. For a fisherman, it’s like hitting the reset button. You can reorganize and eliminate equipment that is no longer necessary while finding a new home for any new gear you may have acquired. Check your safety equipment like life vests and fire extinguisher. Repair any problems that you had come up the previous year like broken switches, loose carpet, etc. Once you are finished checking the interior, you can move on to the motor.
Keeping your motor ready to go and getting it ready for spring is very important. When you are on the water, it is your lifeline. Take any extra step you can to keep from being stranded. Trust me, it’s no fun sitting dead in the water with little hope of what to do. The first thing that I do to prepare my motor for spring is add Sta-bil Ethanol Treatment to the gas. I use this product year round and add extra when I put the boat up for the winter. Sta-bil cleans the gas and protects your engine from moisture damage. Not only does it protect the engine itself, but it also helps protect hoses and seals that can be ruined by too much exposure to the ethanol that is in gas. During the fishing season, your motor will run noticeably better when you use this as well! Take the time to change your lower unit lubrication. It is a very simple process. Find the two screws in the starboard side of your engine in the lower unit. Loosen the top screw and place a catch pan under the other. Remove the lower screw and let the oil drain out. If it is reluctant to drain, open the top screw a little more. If you do not have another gasket, make sure you don’t lose the one that you have. Clean the end of the bottom screw while the oil is draining. It has a magnetic end and likely has a few metal shavings on it. Once your lower unit has drained, get a fresh quart of lower unit oil and a pump that attaches to the bottle and fill your lower unit from the bottom hole. Once oil begins coming out of the top hole, tighten the top screw down and then quickly pull the pump out of the bottom hole and put the lower screw back in. You now have fresh lubrication for your lower unit gears!
You can’t talk about prepping a boat without talking about batteries. Batteries are one thing that we know that we will have to replace at some point. Rarely do you get past 3 years with any type of marine battery. However, you can do some things to ensure that you get the maximum life out of them. Make sure that you charge your batteries every trip and preferably leave them hooked up to a charger that maintains them while not in use. Make sure that your batteries are secure inside their compartment. Loose batteries in the back of a boat can make for a bad situation. Look for corrosion on the posts and remove it if it is present.
Finally, you should inspect your trailer carefully. Check your lights to make sure that they are working with no burnt out bulbs. Ensure your tires are fully inflated and not showing too much or uneven wear. Replace your old jack or crank if they are worn out. Lastly, but very important, check your bearings on your trailer. Make sure that they have plenty of grease and the covers are secure over the bearings.
Preparing your boat for a long fishing season might be quite a chore, but it will pay off when you are fishing rather than repairing a mid-season crisis during prime time. Invest the time on your boat now before you get too involved in the fishing season to worry about “minor” inconveniences.
Have Fun and Be Careful
For more reading on springtime fishing and boating, check out this blog.