How to maintain a fishing boat in the winter

By Tom Keer

Feb 08, 2017

Periodic checks on your boat in the winter can save a lot of time getting ready to splash come spring.

A lot of boaters never check their vessels after their outboard is winterized, the electronics are removed and the shrink wrap is tight.  It's not easy to maintain a fishing boat in the winter, and a periodic check makes a lot of sense.  Here are 4 winter boat maintenance tips that will make your spring launch much easier.

1.  Check your trailer.  Leaves can pile up under your trailer.  They get wet, they are covered with snow and ice, and that moisture rusts roller and bunk brackets.  Rake them out before it's too late.

2.  Check your shrink wrap.  Maintaining a fishing boat in the winter can be as simple as checking to make sure that your covering is in tact.  It's difficult to puncture shrink wrap, but branches tossed around in a strong wind can poke a hole in the plastic that allows water inside.  A more common issue pertains to tarps that aren't securely fastened.  They blow around in strong winds and rain, and they collapse under the weight of snow.  Check your covering, patch any holes, and keep the water at bay.

3.  Tire pressure.  If you haven't put your trailer on blocks then check your tire pressure.  Two additional winter boat maintenance tips.  If you're storing your trailer for more than a month then inflate tires to maximum pressure.  Avoid long-term storage on soft ground such as grass or dirt.  Trailers plus boat weight plus water-logged ground can equal trouble.  Be careful your trailer doesn't sink in.  

4.  Take advantage of winter months.  There are some things you can work on during the winter while your boat is in dry dock.  Boat bottom cleaning is time consuming, so if you can use down time in the winter to scrape and wash your hull then you'll just need to sand and paint the bottom when the weather is warm.  If you can access the cockpit then drill holes for new electronics, run transducer cables and replace any corroded components.  It's a good time for new hubs, too.
The more you maintain a fishing boat in the winter the easier it is to splash in the spring.  After all, that's when the fun begins.

Tom Keer
Tom Keer
Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program.  Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits.  When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters.  His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011.  Visit him at or at