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 us. We do, however, keep ourselves occupied with the odd fishing/boat-related activities throughout this awful spell of coldness and doing a bit of boat maintenance can go a long way to making sure things run smoothly in the spring.
Here are a few of the things we like to check up on when our boats are stored away for the winter.
VISITING YOUR BABY
This is a great time (if it’s within accessible storage) to go over little items that broke, broke down, are wearing, etc.
On occasion, we’ve had to replace bilge pumps. Maybe they have seized up or maybe they’re just getting old. In either case, if you know or think it needs attention, 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.
The plastic coupler where the hose attaches (as seen on the left side of the photo above) 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 and livewell pumps are in “perfect” working order. They could save your boat and, more importantly, your life!
How about your breaker buttons or fuses for your electric motor? On one of our past boats, we 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 to add to your winter boat maintenance checklist.
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, there are lots out there. As well there’s an array of other heavier-duty mounts (most of the bass pros rig their boats with them) like this. Much more money but a much stronger and more efficient design.
Winter is also the time to clean your rig from top to bottom. If you have carpet, get rid of the stains. With vinyl, a good scrubbing and it’ll look marvellous.
What about that nasty greenish-brown grunge that sticks to the bottom of your fibreglass 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 we found which works is a mixture of Lysol toilet bowl cleaner and water. Mix it together (appx 1/3 Lysol and 2/3 water) in a big bucket and sponge it on liberally or put it in a spray bottle and simply spray on. No need to scrub as the aggressive scrubbing action does nothing, it’s simply getting the mixture onto the boat’s surface that is key. If the grunge doesn’t come off immediately, run a second pass. After a bit of time, it magically disappears!
TACKLE, LINE, ETC
Of course, the winter 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.
During our winter boat maintenance sessions, we also take the time to spool up a few 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 re-spooling and then, of course, you’ll just say “forget it, use your old line” (cause’ it’s still good) and proceed to break off a giant… pretty much guaranteed.
PULL YOUR PROPS
Last, but certainly not least, on our winter boat maintenance checklist is 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!