Charlie has over 30 years experience as a bass boat
owner and 20 years as a certified Mercury technician. Call him at
540.665.0611 or email
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Mother Nature has turned the temperatures cold and slowed the local fish bite. You’re watching fishing shows on the Outdoor Life Network and ESPN. You’re watching these guys in the warmer regions catching fish and the old fishing bug is starting to set in. This is the time of year you need to start looking at Preventive Maintenance on your boat, motor and trailer. Don’t wait until the weather is warm and fish are starting to feed. You need to maximize that time fishing and not working on equipment failures.
Here’s some items you should perform now so when the weather starts to warm, you can be fishing with no hassles:
Your Prized Fishing Boat
Your Trusty Outboard Motor
- Completely removed everything from your boat. Clean and vacuum it!
- This will help you find those misplaced items or that bag of plastics you’ve been hunting for the last few months of the season.
- A lot of dirt and crime can form inside those hidden compartments, especially down in the corners.
- Glue down any carpet that may have worked its way loose.
- Give that funky live well a good cleaning. Remember to give it a good flushing after you’re done and ensure that all the water is drained out of the pumps and hoses so they don’t freeze. Don’t want any cracked pumps or split hoses when you start to fill it up with fish at the first tournament!
- Check all mounting screws, clamps, fasteners, nuts & bolts. Is everything tight?
- Your boat experiences a lot of shaking & vibrating as you rip across those waves and fasteners have a way of loosening up.
- Check: mounting brackets for your electronics, deck cleats, hand rails, electrical connections, trolling motor & mounting brackets, light sockets, windshields, shift lever, hot-foot, all compartment hinges & latches, bilge pump system hose clamps & mounting brackets, aerator/fill/drain/recycle pump system hose clamps & mounting brackets, seats, steering wheel, all console & bow mounted switches, battery trays, oil reservoir, rod straps, and what ever else you have that’s fastened in place.
- Take care of those batteries!
- Hopefully you’ve been keeping those batteries fully charged while the boat has been sitting. They will discharge themselves when not in use!
- Remove and clean all those battery connections. It’s a good idea to check the trolling motor receptacle battery cable connections on the bow of the boat. They can become loose, corroded and burned up which will rob you of full voltage at the trolling motor or no power at all.
- Do the batteries require water? Make sure you use distilled water!
- If you’re not sure of the condition or age of your batteries, you may want to have them load tested. Better safe now then later. I would wait until right before I was ready to start using the boat before I purchased new batteries.
- How’s the bottom of that boat looking?
- Inspect the entire boat for cracks or deep gouges.
- Any gouges with exposed fiberglass showing should be repaired before it leads to more extensive problems.
Your Electric Egg Beater on the Bow
- Get under that cowling, give it a cleaning and visually inspect everything.
- Wipe out all that oil residue laying in the bottom of the cowling.
- Look carefully for any frayed or broken wires, cracked or split hoses, loose pieces hanging from the motor, or anything doesn’t look just right.
- Check all mounting screws, clamps, fasteners, nuts & bolts.
- If you’re not handy with a wrench, have proper bolt torque specifications & procedures for your motor, leave this work to the trained professional. You may cause more damage then you could prevent by incorrect procedures and tightening.
- If you feel comfortable, just look for loose wiring connections, hose clamps, etc.
- Pull the spark plugs and give them a good cleaning. Get all that yuck and carbon build-up off them. Make sure you properly torque them when you reinstall.
- Have you drained, cleaned or replaced your gas filter/water separator lately?
- Hopefully you properly winterized your boat before putting it for the season?
- Did you change your lower unit lube?
- Hope you’re not storing that motor tilted up so water can run into the prop hub if it’s outside?
- If it gets cold enough to freeze, and you have water in your hub/lower unit, it can cause some costly repair bills.
- Pull out your owner’s manual and grease your motor per their recommendations.
- Check the steering cables or hoses.
- Pull off your prop.
- Clean off any wrapped up fishing line, weeds, etc. on the prop shaft.
- Grease the prop shaft and reinstalled the prop. Make sure you get it tight and bend over the tabs or insert the cotter pin on the locking ring.
- Did you ding up your prop this past year?
- This is a good time to send it out to be rebuilt. Cheaper then a new one and just as good!
Your Good Ole Reliable Trailer
- Pull that prop off and remove any wrapped up fishing line!
- You should do this any time, as soon as you even think you might have ran your trolling motor through some fishing line. Fishing line will definitely eat up that from seal behind the prop.
- Are your prop blades a little short from munching into some rocks or branches? Replace it! You will be surprised how much better, faster and quieter your trolling motor runs.
- If you prop isn’t in too bad of shape, at least take a file and clean up the rough edges.
- Grease it!
- If you feel comfortable, remove the top head of your trolling motor and grease the steering mechanism and the turning thrust bearing.
- You also have a bearing on the steering shaft (where the lower shaft turns inside the upper shaft) that can use a dab of grease.
- Check your tires.
- Are they inflated properly?
- Inspect your thread wear.
- If your trailer has sat still for a couple of months, move it around a little to keep from getting flat spots.
- Check the brakes, wheel bearings and seals.
- Inspect your brake pads and brake fluid level.
- Look for brake fluid leaks over the whole trailer.
- Inspect your wheel bearings and seals. Throwing any grease?
- This is a good time to repack the wheel bearing grease. Make sure you have a new inner seal. Because if it isn’t worn, the chances of you damaging it when you remove the hub is 50/50.
- Inspect your hitch coupler and apply a light coat of grease.
- How’s that license plate bracket holding up? Or, is it even there?
- Check your front winch, winch strap/rope and tie downs.
- Make sure they’re not dry rotted or ready to break.
- Give that winch handle and gears a little lube. Don’t forget your trailer dolly.
- Check over those #$%@$! Trailer Lights!
- Make sure all the bulbs are working properly and burning at the proper brightness.
- Make sure all the bulbs are working properly and burning at the proper brightness. Yes, do it a second time!
- Dimly lit bulbs are usually a sign of a loose or bad ground.
- Check all electrical connections for looseness or corrosion. Especially the ground terminals. In a lot of cases, you don’t have a separate ground wire connection. They use the mounting bolts of the light assembly for grounding purposes.
- Look for frayed wires, especially where they run through the trailer frame.
- Making sure your trailer plug is not corroded or rusted up
- Make sure that your bunk boards and/or rollers are in good shape.
- Make sure everything works like it’s suppose to!
- Organize the equipment and gear you keep in your boat so you can readily find it.
- Carry whatever spare equipment you feel is necessary. Don’t forget that jug of 2-cycle oil!
- Is your fire extinguisher still charged and valid?
- Do you have the proper safety equipment in your boat?
- Determine how and what personal items you need to pack into your boat (aspirin, sunscreen, good ole toilet paper, etc.).
- Now your ready to start on your fishing tackle!