It is ice fishing season in my neck of the woods, but I live in a constant state of denial or hopefulness, depending on how you want to look at it, and I try to keep my boat ready to go all year. My boat has some minimalist qualities so I’m limited to relatively small fishing waters. However, this also means my spring boat preparation list usually is fairly short. The bigger the water, the bigger boats, and bigger the boat dewinterization checklists.
1. Give it an inspection
One way to address spring boat preparation is to start by determining if your boat can even make it to the lake or river and back. Give the boat trailer a good inspection. How’s the tread on the tires? Do you have a spare? When was the last time the bearings were greased? Is that winch rope frayed? And how about my personal nemesis, the boat trailer lights? Check them. Now.
2. Safety check
Safety is another important part of any spring boat prep. Are the life jackets in good shape and do they still fit everyone? Do you have any extras, just in case you are entertaining guests? Depending on the size of your boat, does the bilge pump work? Can you still find the fire extinguisher, and if so, how old is it?
3. Motor and battery check
While you dewinterize your boat, you need to make sure that when you arrive at the lake, you have power. Check the batteries and all connections for corrosion. If you’ve got an electric trolling motor, take off the prop and peek underneath. Mine had a significant wad of someone’s braided fishing line hindering motor thrust. If you’ve got a gas motor, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding how to dewinterize a boat engine, just to be sure. Inspect all hoses for cracks and loose connections. When you are ready, with fresh fuel, hook up a motor flusher to a water hose and fire up the engine before possibly contributing to a traffic jam at the boat ramp.
My spring boat prep always includes checking that the boat registration is up to date. Each year, it is important to check everything on your list for spring boat preparation. One overlooked component can thwart a nice initial outing. Which reminds me, where is that boat plug hiding?