Getting Through the Long Cold Winter

Does December to April drive you pretty much crazy? What’s worse, what if you aren’t an ice angler? Getting through the cold of winter can be a bit of a drag; actually, it can be a complete drag! Knowing the boat is in storage and weeks to months away from its next launch pretty much kills me. I do, however, keep myself occupied with the odd fishing/boat related activities throughout this awful spell of coldness.

VISITING MY BABY

No, not my kids, they’re long from the baby era. I mean my boat. This is a great time (if it’s within accessible storage) to go over little items that broke, broke down, are wearing etc.

PUMPS

For instance, I just replaced the bilge pumps. One was seized up and the other, I thought what the hell it’s getting old, just dump it and drop in a new one. A few screws out, a hose clamp, 2 wire connections,

and a few silicone covered screws in and it’s done.

 

As pictured above, the plastic coupler where the hose attaches is probably the weakest point of a bilge pump. If it breaks, there’s a good chance of water directly leaking into the boat at this junction.

Make sure all your bilge pumps are in “perfect” working order. They could save your boat and especially your life!

ELECTRICAL

How about your breaker buttons or fuses for your electric motor? I did those suckers last winter. I had 40-amp glass fuses (auto custom stereo style) in there but changed them out for a more practical push in blade fuses contained in a rubber housing. The glass can break on the aforementioned fuses leaving them vulnerable to water and rust no matter how they’re housed. They will usually still work with broken glass but it’s one more thing that can go wrong in the future.

Most modern-day rigs come with blade fuses so it’s just good practice to pull and test all fuses with a continuity tester to make sure all is running.

MOUNTS AND ETC

Fishfinder/GPS mounts are another thing. If you don’t like your existing mounts or need something stronger, winter is a great time to change them. Maybe your Ram ball mounts are too small (a common cause of electronics drooping. You can go bigger or with a different style https://www.radioworld.ca/category/Z-MS-MARINE/marine-mounts there are lots out there. As well there’s an array of other heavier duty mounts (most of the bass pro’s rig their boats with them) like this https://www.balzoutllc.com/ , much more money but a much stronger and more efficient design.

DE-GRUNGE

This is also the time to clean your rig from top to bottom. If you have carpet, get rid of the stains etc. With vinyl, a good scrubbing and it’ll look marvelous. What about that nasty greenish brown grunge that sticks to the bottom of your rig if you leave it in the water for a couple of days? By the way, how does this even happen in a clean clear lake? Who knows? There are some commercial products that will take care of this. The homemade remedy that I found that works is a half and half mixture of Lysol toilet bowl cleaner and water. Mix it together in a big bucket and sponge it on liberally. No need to scrub as the aggressive scrubbing action does nothing, it’s getting the mixture onto the boat’s surface. The grunge doesn’t come off immediately however after a bit of time, it magically disappears!

TACKLE, LINE, ETC

Of course, this is also a great time to clean up your tackle boxes, throw away used plastic baits into the garbage and take inventory of what’s needed to restock your bait supply. This is also a great time to spool up reels with new line. A couple of reels per boat visit (or in your garage or even house) and you’ll be done in no time. Then it won’t be panic city come opening day eve when you have to get tons of stuff done including respooling and then, of course, you’ll just say f#@* it, use your old line (cause’ it’s still good) and proceed to break off a giant… pretty much guaranteed.

PULL YOUR PROPS

This is a very important step, pulling your gas motor’s propeller as well as your electric motor’s. Fishing line is the #1 culprit of broken seals and O-rings in the prop areas of your boat. Pull every prop your boat has and inspect carefully and clean thoroughly.

These are just a few things I do to keep the “winter sucks” feelings at bay. We’d love to hear what you do.

2 Replies to “Getting Through the Long Cold Winter”

  1. Your boat’s wintry hibernation can create a multitude of unforseen problems. Being prepared for the unexpected should not be a matter of hit and miss. Proper maintenance on you boat and trailer should be no different than the tender loving care your give that other baby….your
    tow vehicle!

    The following are just a few precautions you should keep in mind.

    1) Flush out the coolant ports on your out board/inboard motor after the winter with a good old “Turkey Baster” to ensure there is no debris, insects other matter clogging up the ports. Using a water hose on the motor’s intake port will help.

    2) Prop open all storage compartments to prevent mildew and rust over the winter. Air circulation at this time is vital.

    3) This is an excellent occasion to practice changing the tires on your boat trailer. Knowing that you have the right tools and sizes can and will save you from a multitude of ruined fishing trips.

    4) When storing your boat, disconnect all batteries. (main and backup). You may not be aware but some electronics on your boat do use power even when turned off.

    5) Make it a habit to test your batteries at intervals through out the winter to make sure they are holding a charge. Preventing “Dead Battery Syndrome” come the spring, when you launch your boat, has it’s obvious advantages. Having a battery tester is a must at all times.

    6) Clean and spray all electrical connectors with a good quality rust inhibitor. This will insure an excellent connection and prevent drain on your battery.

    7) Replace all “Wing Nuts” with the appropriate nut that you can wrench down. This will guarantee all electrical connections are snug and secure. There is nothing worse than loose connections when you are out on the water. Vibrations from your boat’s motor can really loosen up a great fishing trip.

    8) Bolt a cleat near the winch on your boats trailer. This will act like a second pair of hands when launching or trailering your boat.

    9) Check the drain plug on your boat to ensure it is secure and undamaged. Yeah, this one is a biggie!

    10) Test your boat motor’s “Kill Switch”. Need I say more why this one is a matter of life and death? Getting hit by an out of control watercraft while bobbing like a cork after falling overboard will put an quick end to any future proceedings.

    11) A shot of a good quality grease on the hub bearings of your boat trailer is a no brainer. A seized bearing out in the middle of nowhere, will stop your fishing excursion in it’s tracks! In fact, give all the moving parts in your boat an application of the appropriate lubrication.

    12) Winter layover is the best time to have your boat motor checked out by a reputable marine mechanic. He knows all about the little do-hickies “under the hood” and can best provide routine scheduled maintenance when needed.

    13) Check the tie down straps and connections on your boat and trailer for any wear and/or damage. Replace as necessary….My brother-in-law and I almost had his boat fly off the trailer while speeding down a back country road due to this oversight. Fortunately our wives, who were following close behind, were able to gain our attention through excessive blasts from their car horn. Now that was embarrassing….we never heard the end of that little miscue.

    14) Inspect all wiring for any cracks in the insulation. A short circuit can cause severe damage to your electronics and give you quite a jolt in the meantime.

    15) Test the tail lights on your trailer and the running lights on your boat. Inspect their water tight seals for any cracks. Replace those that are damaged and any burnt out light bulbs.

    16) Check the docking cleats on you boat’s gunnel. (upper-outside edge for any of you landlubbers). Tighten and secure those that are loose and replace any stripped nuts and bolts. Finding your baby adrift in the morning after an outing the previous day, will give you a few “lonely days and lonely nights” for sure.

    17) Give the hull on your boat a good close once over or three. Loose rivets on aluminum watercraft are a sure sign of impending problems. Cracked or scratched fiberglass on other models will also be a similar cause for concern.

    18) Check you boats trailer hitch for any undo and excessive wear. While you are at it, have a look see at the ball hitch on your tow vehicle for similar reasons and just for good measure the electrical connections between the two as well. Separation anxiety is such a depressing experience for everyone involved.

    19) Any rust or damage to welds on your boat and trailer should be repaired immediately. A structurally sound watercraft and trailer are a must for any angler to survive what mother Nature throws at them. She can be quite nasty and unforgivable.

    20) Keep a well stocked tool box handy and accessible in you boat. Wrenches, screwdrivers extra spark plugs, light bubs, nuts, bolts, etc., will come through in an emergency when kilometers from shore or civilization..

    21) Finally and most importantly, inspect all your life jackets for any damage, rot or deterioration. This is also a great time to replace all out dated or damaged safety equipment such as flares, flashlights, life rings, first aid kits, etc.

    So guys and gals, as Pete said, it is your baby. Nurture it. Your your life and that of your equipment, is actually in your hands.

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