Know how to maintain your fishing boat to prepare for this season’s angling adventures with these tips.
Maybe the ice has yet to freeze, and maybe the cold hasn’t subsided, but before we know it, spring will be here and we’ll want to be fishing on our boat.
In order to do that, you’ll want to go through some basic maintenance steps that will make sure you and your vessel are ready for the upcoming season. Don’t forget to check off the following items from your to-do list before taking your fishing boat out on the water, because there’s nothing worse than fishing in your boat and realizing your wet feet are due to a malfunction or leak.
There’s nothing like peeling off that boat cover for the first time in months, when you get to gaze upon your vessel once more and think of all the fish you’ll reel in while cruising in it.
Look over the exterior of the boat’s hull and make sure there are no dents or damage. If you’ve had your boat covered, which we definitely recommend, remove it carefully to prevent rainwater, leaves or critters from instantly falling into your cockpit. Sometimes a boat fresh out of storage deserves at least a rinse, if not a complete wash to get it ready.
Give your trailer a thorough look-over as well. Inflate tires, which can lose air during cold season storage, and verify the integrity of welds and joints. Any rust should catch your eye; be sure to determine it as cosmetic and not structural damage.
Check out our 3 dream fishing boat setups.
An obvious place to begin is your boat’s batteries. Not much will work if they aren’t ready for action. Be sure batteries are charged, but not overcharged. An overcharged battery can boil away too much of the acid, leading to a drastically decreased lifespan.
Many battery and auto part stores will test batteries of different kinds for free, and some will even charge them without cost. try these options before paying, or consider an inexpensive battery tester for your own garage.
Once batteries are in good shape, check the electronics. Of course this could vary from sophisticated depth finders and sonar, to a simple on/off lanyard switch and an AM/FM radio. Nonetheless, whatever electronics you use should be working before you get on the water.
Wiring, hoses and connections
Nothing wears away a boat’s usefulness like poor hoses or wiring, which is why you’ll want to check them before hitting the water for the first time in a while. Look at the engine’s hoses, and make sure none are loose or cracked. Fuel and oil hoses are essential to proper boat performance, so don’t skip over this step.
Related story: 5 Favorite Offshore Sport Fishing Boats
Wiring is another thorn in a boat owner’s side, especially if the boat is adding up its years on the water. Even if a boat has been covered for the winter, rodents can easily find their way to wiring and chew through the insulation. Inspecting every wire may seem tedious, but if there’s a problem discovered it will pay off.
Most boat owners put a lot of their attention towards the engine, and for good reason. Much like the hoses and connections mentioned above, those that hold fuel and oil are essential to the performance of your engine. Inspect them all and replace or reconnect the ones that need it. Steering cables could loosely fall into this category, but should definitely be checked. Grease them if things aren’t as smooth as can be.
Check your power trim and tilt. With the engine in the up position, pull the plug out and make sure the reservoir oil level is where it should be (typically even with the threads). Take the prop off and make sure there isn’t any fishing line or other debris interfering with the connection. Give the propellor shaft splines and tighten the prop nut to the specified torque.
A fishing boat is nothing without the gear, including safety items alongside your rod, reel and tackle. Make sure every lifejacket you have on the boat is in tip-top shape, and that your fire extinguisher is full and charged.
Keep in mind that these reminders are meant to cover the basics, and serve as easy reference checks. Every boat is different, and it’s every boat owner’s responsibility to know and understand what it takes to keep it in shape year after year.
The idea of owning a boat is great, but the old saying “A boat owners best day is the day he sells his boat” isn’t entirely true. You can have plenty of “best days” if you’re prepared and take care of your fishing boat. Plus, if you take the time to prepare a boat for spring fishing ahead of time, that equals many more hours that can be spent on the water, catching the fish you’ve thought about all winter,