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the Hunt for Muskellunge
Fishing and Other Winter Fun
Other Boating Articles:
Using a PFD
Why Slow Down?
Towing & Trailers
Ready for Spring?
Knots to Know
The days are warm and sunny and bright and the nights are
cool and crisp. I know that up at my favorite fishing hole in northern
Minnesota, the pike are feeding voraciously and the walleyes and
smallmouth too, are fattening up for the long winter ahead. I have of late
been spending a lot of time in the neighborhood retention pond tossing a
small lead-head jig and plastic twister tail at the many bluegill that are
also seemingly angry – as I find myself to be – at the decreasing daylight
hours of late September. It is truly strange that the time of year that is
the prettiest is the time that at once I both like and dislike. This is
because it is time to put my boat away for the season… and the winter.
And I have many times already put the chore at the end of a long list of
For those of you – pardon the pun – in the same boat, take some time
now to “winterize” your boat so that you can sit beside a winter’s fire
and enjoy memories and pictures of last summer’s vacation and rest assured
that your boat will be ready next spring when you are. There a number of
things that are important for you to do now, before the snow flies. The
first thing to do is to thoroughly clean the inside of your boat. (If you
have the time, it’s not a bad idea to clean and wax the hull. It will save
time in the spring, and your boat will move more easily through the water
next season!) Vacuum the carpets, armor-all the seats and other vinyl
surfaces and wash any gear that will remain in the boat during the winter
months. Remove/store life
vests, rain gear, fishing poles and other items to which you may want access.
Take out the batteries and refill water levels as needed. If you have a
portable charger, make a schedule that allows for a once-a-month charging
of those batteries. They will lose water as well as charge over the winter.
Store them up and off the floor in a cool, dry place and keep at least one of
the terminals covered to minimize discharging that will occur naturally
with the passage of time.
It is also a great time to have the trailer wheel bearings re-packed. When I had more
time, I used to do this myself with a
Lubrication Kit. (It may be a dirty job, but it is
comforting to know that the chances of a hub seizing up on me, half-way to
the lake, will be tremendously reduced.) Now I simply take the boat to my
Lund dealer and let them do the work. I do this about once every other
year depending on the number of miles I trailer my boat in the summer.
It is also time to change the gear oil in the lower unit, fog the engine
to protect the cylinders over the winter, and add stabilizer to the
remaining gas in the tank. I’m betting that the majority of you already do
this. And you all know what happens to untreated gas with the passage of
time. In a word: varnish, and it’s not a pretty thing. Motors obviously
run much better on clean, fresh gas. These last tasks I also used to
perform myself… back when I had the time. Again, I prefer to let my
authorized dealer do the work. His time is worth my money. It is also a
good time to replace the spark plugs. And if you must store your boat
outside, do your very best to ensure that it is covered tightly to keep
all moisture, as well as insects and small animals, out. Mildewed carpeting in the spring is a very unpleasant
surprise! It also helps if you can get the wheels up off the ground and
try to insulate the hubs, if possible.
As the available sunlight dwindles and the first major frosts wipe out my
remaining flowers and vegetables, even the bluegills and largemouth in my
retention pond realize that all seasons must pass into the next. And so as
they begin to slow their activity and I lay in my supply of firewood and
anticipate another Mid-West winter, I can be soothed by the fact that my
boat is mostly ready for another season on the water. My job next spring
has been greatly reduced by a little extra preparation this fall.
I’ll see you next spring … On the Lake.