Winterizing, Do or Don’t?

It is that time of year when most people start to focus on the woods to chase after deer instead of the water to chase the creatures of the lakes. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with this as hunting is a true passion of mine. However, there are a few things that people neglect to think about this time of year.

The most expensive part of my fishing gear sits on a concrete pad behind my garage. Yes it is my boat, but it is more than just a boat. It is a very important tool that is cherished and not taken for granted.

It is a common thing to see boats covered with shrink wrap or tarped over and ready for the winter months. This is an unfortunate thing as the fishing is just about to get better. The lakes are cooling and the fall bite for all species is just going to get even better.

This means that this important tool needs to be at the ready for some late fall and even winter expeditions to chase a multitude of different species. We have all heard that a boat needs to be winterized and this is not anything that I am against. The boat must be winterized, however that word can be taken in different ways.

Just because you winterize your boat does not mean that the boat cannot still be utilized. There are just a few extra steps to take to make sure that the boat is ready for the next trip that may occur when the weather will permit it.

There are a few things to keep in mind when fishing these winter months that will parallel a standard winterizing procedure, but you should pay particular attention to. Now I have never claimed to be an expert at boat care, or any other subject for that matter, but there are a few things that attention to detail is key.

The fuel system is the veins that pump the life blood of the system to the main and kicker motors. This should be attended to so that any possible issues can be stopped in their tracks. Check all hoses and primer bulbs for leaks and replace where necessary. Also it is recommended that a good fuel/water filter be part of the system so that this can be changed out prior to the cold weather so that freezing lines or worse can occur.

With the delivery system in tact then you need to look at the fuel itself. Keeping this fuel treated with every fill-up is a prime way to keep the boat ready for the winter months of storage as well as use. I use a combination of Star-Tron and Seafoam. This little elixir keeps the fuel ready to burn as well as ready to store.

I try not to put more fuel in my tank than I plan to utilize. It is much easier to remove a ¼ tank of older stored gas than a full tank. I can always add more if needed prior to a trip, but if that trip does not occur then there is less gas in the tank to go bad. People are always talking about condensation in the tank, but if you use a proper additive to the gas and you don’t have a steel tank then there is no need to worry about keeping it full.

Another controversial point about storing the boat it is the way to store your batteries. My personal boat utilizes wet cells like many other anglers do as well. The best way to keep these batteries going is to make sure they have a good full charge prior to covering the boat and then putting them on charge again prior to any outing.

In my opinion there really is no reason to remove the batteries and store them in a remote location. As long as they have a full charge they can be left in the boat so that you are ready to go at any point the weather may break.

If you are fortunate enough to get your boat out during the winter months there are a few things that you want to remember prior to launching as well as after you pull the boat. Taking a few extra precautions can eliminate some nasty results at the ramp.

Check all your holds for any water that may have collected. Look at your thru-hull fittings to make sure that nothing looks suspicious. Often times you cannot really tell if you have any issues until the boat actually hits the water so I always recommend before the trailer pulls away from the ramp you flip on your bilge pumps and make sure nothing comes out. The last thing you need is a broken hose that is letting water in and now you have to scramble to get the trailer back to the water.

When pulling the boat make sure you drop the motor or motors and let them drain any water you can out of them. I take it one step further and bump each motor with the key to rotate the water pump impeller to force any left-over water out of the system. This is done at the ramp, but when the boat arrives home it is common practice that I drop each motor down to the lowest point so any water I may have missed can drain out.

This may all seem like a lot of pain to go through to hit the water, but the risk is certainly worth the reward. The late fall and winter months can prove to be quite a productive time of year to fish and too often people neglect to take advantage of these opportunities. I will let all those negative people stay on land as that leaves more fish for me.