Ways to Get Boat-Ready for Fishing Season
Fishing enthusiasts are always looking forward to any opportunity to get back on the water with their boats. Usually longer and sunny days are preferred fishing seasons. However, whatever the temperature outside, many fishermen do it all year round. But the question is is your boat ready to be launched?
Taking care of your boat is a complex job as it requires detailed courses of action that boat owners need to follow. There are certain inspections and maintenance tasks that are vital for you to be safe on the water too. Therefore, we have crafted a checklist that will make your fishing experience more productive and enjoyable. Let’s get started!
A Seasonal Approach for Boat Owners
You no longer have to wait for long summer days to take your boat out. Even if you don’t own one yet, you may look into fishing boats for sale to explore a new hobby. However, we have broken down the basic prepping tips into seasonal approaches, like a year-round boat maintenance guide to give you a jump start.
For all the good people who have already invested time in winterizing their boats—this should be easy for you! All you have to do is replace and do a quick inspection of your electronics, battery, and motor. You should also glance through the cleanliness of the interior and exterior of your boat. Perhaps you could wash and wax the hull. If you have been parking your boat on the water, you might consider repainting the bottom too. Lastly, fill gas and make sure your trailer and navigational lights are good to go.
For people who are only interested in taking their boats out during warmer days, you may have more work waiting for you. The engine, thermostats, oil, and fluid levels all need to be thoroughly checked.
You may also have to revisit your wheel bearing, as winter shrinks grease and caulk. This indicates that you have to lay a new bead around the deck of your boat. You may even spot rust due to seasonal storage.
You are missing out on the real fun if you haven’t prepared your boat to be out on the water. Repairs should have been done already. However, here are some last-minute summer tips. Clean thoroughly; give it a good shower. Top off fluids. Run a quick inspection of all the technical aspects, battery, docks, lights, spark plugs, engine, and most importantly, your engine. Another task is to repack your trailer hubs after every use.
As mentioned earlier, winterizing your boat saves you from the extra year-round maintenance. It is a productive way to get ahead of your fishing game. If you like to get your hands dirty, you’ll have a lot of fun with tasks like flushing your engine, fuel stabilizing, topping oil filters, adding new oil, etc. Remember to grease your steering ties too.
Some other tasks that require inspection must be done properly—like battery charging, replacing lights if needed, small repairs, rollers, bunks, leaf springs, tires, and safety measures, etc.
Winter can be really hard on boats. The temperature is often too harsh, especially if you are leaving it on the water. Extremely cold places with snow or rain can clog up drain plugs. During winter, your boat needs extra attention. You can make sure that the water is drained properly from your boat—otherwise, the batteries will get damaged.
Also, tarps need to be monitored. Make sure you have secured them. If you park your boat in your backyard, check for punctures. To be on the safe side, try to patch holes before the water makes it in.
Checklist to Prepare Your Boat
It’s time to go through all the details now. Whichever season you choose, you must follow these steps to ensure that you are safe on your boat and having fun too!
Inspection is directly related to configuring your boat before getting out for a ride. It does not have to be fishing-specific. You have to go through all the little details that will enable it to run smoothly. So keep reading this checklist to make sure you do not miss an important step.
A dead battery can ruin your entire experience. Trust us, you don’t want to be stuck or waiting in the water with your boat. This is a common mistake to check the battery. So test it with a meter or get professional help to check it for you. You will need to charge it accordingly, maybe adding some extra fluid. Sometimes, if you have not used your boat for a long time, you might have to consider replacing it completely. Survey the battery box for any signs of damage.
According to your preferred fishing season, you should get your motor fully inspected. It’s ideal to get it serviced by professionals beforehand. It needs to be properly tuned, and fuel lines and filters should be attended to as well. Give your motor a start before the fishing day to prevent uncalled mishaps. We highly advise you to get a motor flusher for your boat to avoid overheating the engine. Just to stay on top of it, you should get your outboard motor checked and serviced prior to fishing season. If you have a trolling motor installed, get that examined too!
The boat’s electronics should not be ignored. For example, the multifunction display (MFS) must be operating fully. Switch on the ignition and monitor your engine’s condition, along with temperature gauges. Look out for any warning signals or alarms. Use the manual to get information on what’s causing it. If you are unable to figure it out, seek professional help—do not neglect it. Check your fish finder (after all, you are taking it out for fishing!). Don’t forget to check your GPS as well.
Personal flotation devices (PFDs) include throw cushions and lifejackets and are mandatory by law. Thoroughly go through all the different types of your boat’s USCG-approved PFDs, including Type I, II, and III. Now is a good time to replace them. You don’t want to be fined during a vessel inspection.
This one is a very important step. Your boat’s fire extinguisher has to be checked religiously. For example, the pressure gauge should indicate whether the needle is full or not. Get it checked or replaced to avoid any confusion. Again, during vessel inspection, they always check this one item, so it is wise to take this seriously.
The number one necessity is to have your paperwork and registration documents up to date. The fines for neglecting this can be hefty. Anything that has expired needs to be removed and replaced. Don’t forget to stick your new registration and license plate on your boat’s body before you take it out.
Surveying the boat trailer is another essential job. You must check the tire pressure. Apply grease to the desired areas accordingly. If you don’t have one already, buy a bearing protector for your trailer. Check brakes and trailer lights too.
Lastly, check your boat’s plug a few times, just to be sure. If it is neglected it may misfire. Pro tip: always carry an extra plug on board. You’ll thank us later.
Cleaning your boat inside and out is an absolute necessity. Let’s look at a few essentials you can follow to clean your boat.
Damage to dock and anchor lines can sometimes be unnoticed by boaters who love fishing. Take your time to do an inspection. You may discover that lots of things need attention before you can actually take it out for fishing. Look out for abrasion on your dock. If you are confused, check the manual or get an expert to help you out.
After a good wash and wax, check your boat coolers and livewells. They have the tendency to attract and store dust and debris. So you must clean them too. Don’t miss your boat’s bilge area—that needs a good wash too. Note: Don’t use soap or detergents to wash your livewell, in case you want to store live bait. Remember to pay attention to the aerator and replace or repair it if you have any doubts.
The boat’s anchor plays a crucial role, and so do the navigation lights. If you plan to stay on the water at night, take extra measures such as USCG-approved bells and whistles. Again, these cannot be ignored as they are mandatory. Plus, if you ever get into an unfortunate incident, they’ll save your life.
Safety above all. Life jackets, fire extinguishers, throw cushions, GPS, mirrors, whistle, horns, anchors, food supply, water supply, battery life, motor, engine—all are a part of your safety when you are on the boat. Everything has a purpose, so you have to make sure that your checklist includes every little equipment check. Moreover, dress accordingly. If you are winter fishing, wear proper winter fishing clothes to enjoy your time.
Fishing is an experience like no other. Boaters, especially fishing guides, have expressed that it is the best part of their adult life. Plus, if you have kids, you can take them out for the experience of a lifetime. It’s always more fun with family and friends. All you need to do is maintain your boat and take care of it responsibly so that the experience is more than just a fishing trip for everyone.