By Capt. Joe Kent
Spring presents an opportunity to visit about preparations needed to help ensure a trouble free time on the water during the best months for fishing that lie ahead.
During March and April many anglers and or boaters will use their equipment for the first time this year. Many will have the unpleasant experience of launching their boat and encountering problems that ruin what would otherwise be a pleasant day on the water.
The equipment we are going to discuss includes the boat, motor and fishing tackle. Each of those are vulnerable to damage when sitting up for long periods of time. Finding a problem before heading out on that first trip of the season will save a lot of frustrations and expenses.
Let’s start with your boat and motor. The number one problem according to marine mechanics is fuel that has been in the tank too long, especially untreated ethanol gasoline. If your boat has been dormant most of the winter fresh fuel should be added along with a fuel treatment designed to enhance the fuel and absorb any water.
Ethanol based gasoline tends to break down and absorb moisture from the air, leading to expensive repairs if not addressed before running your engine.
The engine oil (for four-stroke engines) should be changed as well as the lower unit oil on all marine engines. If you change the lower unit oil yourself, check for water. After setting up, if water is present it likely will drain to the bottom and come out first when the drain plus is removed.
Milky colored lower unit oil indicates the presence of water. In either case, do not run the engine in gear until the source for the water is determined and repaired. Most of the time it is a leaking seal.
Check your steering cables and fuel lines. If cracks or noted in the fuel line, replace it.
Confirm that your bilge pump is working. If your battery is over three years old, replace it. Chances are it is not going to last much longer.
Before making that first trip to the ramp, crank the engine using an earmuff type fresh water flushing device. Let it run for ten minutes and if no problems detected you are ready to head out.
While all of the above are good pointers for avoiding problems, nothing beats a check-up by your mechanic before making that first trip. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of trouble.
Close behind in importance is your fishing equipment and tackle. They should undergo a thorough inspection before that first fishing trip. Replace the line on your reels if they have been sitting up all winter. Using a light penetrating oil such as WD-40, clean the outside of your reel and use a light reel oil to lubricate the internal parts. Check the eyes on your rods for corrosion and clean or replace if necessary.
Clean out your tackle box and toss any rusty or corroded lures and hooks. Also, check your supply of tackle. Over the winter we often forget about items needed for the upcoming season.
Utilizing time during March and April to prepare for the summer fishing season is time well spent.