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Getting Your Boat And Fishing Equipment Ready For Spring

Getting Your Boat And Fishing Equipment Ready For Spring Getting Your Boat And Fishing Equipment Ready For Spring
By Jim Hammond

It's time to spend a few hours preparing our boats for the new season and here are a few tips on things that you might want to look at, before you put your boat back in the water from the winter sleep.

It is only going to take two or three hours to do all of this. I would rather do this now than have a failure on the water and ruin a fishing day.

I like to start at the front and work my way back. The boat, motor, trailer and reels will probably need some pre-fishing maintenance before we get cranked up for the new season.

I start with the winch on the trailer. Feed out about six feet or so or strap, rope or cable that is attached to the winch. You know what I am talking about, the strap that is attached to the hook that you attach to the eye on the front of the boat. Check this strap for any bad places. If you find frayed or torn places, you will need to cut off the bad area and reattach the hook to the strap. You do not want to have this break at the ramp or while on your way to the ramp.

The next thing is the winch. I like to feed out almost all of the strap on the winch, spray all of the joints and moving parts with some type of penetrating oil or grease, wind the strap back on the winch, making sure that the oil has penetrated all of the moving parts.

Next, on my boat is the trolling motor. I start with the moving parts on the bracket. Spraying oil or white grease in all of the joints and the bearing that separates the two halves of the trolling motor shaft. From there I move to the trolling motor plug. I like to get a good shot of white grease in the holes that the plug goes into. and a good shot on the connections on the plug.

Fromthere it's the trolling motor batteries. Check the fluid levels in the batteries, add some purified water if needed. Take the connections loose from the batteries and squirt a little grease on each of them. If you have any corrosion, you might want to cut off a little cable and replace the connections with new ones. After you have done this, replace the connections and squirt a little more white grease on them.

The next step for me would be the anchor and rope. Your anchor rope has been attached to the shackles all year, rubbing on the bottom. There must be some places that are worn or frayed on the anchor rope. Cut off a few feet of anchor line and retie to the shackle. Check the shackles to be sure they are still tight.

Next would be the console. I like to check, clean and spray some white grease on all of the connections for the electrical stuff, like running lights, bilge pump and so on. If you have a panel like mine, you can unscrew the panel and have access to all of the wire end connectors. I like to spray a light coat of white grease on the inside of all of the switches and wire connectors. If you see a connector that is corroded, replace it. From the switch panel I move to my electronics, radio, Lowrance recorder and gps. Take all of the connections loose from the back of each unit, clean them with a small brush if needed, spray a little white grease inside the connections and put them back on the units. This will keep any salt air or spray from getting to the connections and ruining your expensive electronics.

Now it is time to check the safety equipment. Check to be sure your whistle or horn still works. I like to get my flares out and check the dates on them or better yet, buy new ones. I buy new ones each year. If you have never set off a flare, you can call the Coast Guard and they will show you how to do this safely using your old ones.

Check your life jackets to be sure they are still there and are not torn or rotten.

I then move to the gas tank, replace the fuel filter and check the fuel lines for worn spots. If you find any bad places or cracks in the fuel line, replace the line. Check the washer on the inside of the gas cap, if you have a cap that has a washer. If this is broken, replace the cap. If you have any hose clamps that are rusted, replace them with stainless steel clamps.

I then move to the stating batteries. Perform the same steps with these as you did with the trolling motor batteries. If you have a battery load tester, you might want to test the batteries and replace any bad ones.

I then move to the ground, where I check the bearings inside of the wheels on the trailer. To do this, I jack up each side of the trailer, one side at a time, grab the tire and see if there is any back and forth play in the wheel. If you can wobble the tire and wheel back and forth, then you have a bearing problem. You might be able to tighten the nut that holds the hub on the shaft or you might have to replace the bearings and races. To tighten the nut, remove the wheel and grease cap. There will be a nut on the inside of the hub. This nut will probably have a carter key going through the nut and shaft, you must remove the key before tightening the nut. If you can turn the nut by hand, the nut is too loose. Take out the appropriate size wrench and try to tighten it. THIS IS IMPORTANT. Tighten it until it is snug, not as tight as you would tighten a lug nut. If after tightening the nut, you still have play in the hub (wheel), you will need to replace the bearings. If this fixes the play in the wheel, replace the carter key and put all of this back together. You now need to get out the grease gun and pump grease, slowly into the fitting on the hub until it is full. If you pump this too fast, you might blow out the rear seal.

I then head for my Honda 130. I change the engine oil and the oil in the foot. To change the oil in the foot, you will need a large straight slot screw driver, a bucket to catch the old oil and a quart of new oil. Most boats take a 80 to 90 weight gear oil in the lower unit. Check the owners manual, to BE SURE. There will be two screws that need to be backed out to change this oil, one on the bottom of the foot, usually at the front and one about 8 to 10 inches up from the bottom one. These will usually be marked. Also check the owners manual. Unscrew the bottom one and slide your bucket under this hole. Now unscrew the top one and the oil will start to pour out from the bottom one. After the old oil has completely drained, get your new oil container and follow the directions on it. The new oil goes in from the bottom hole. Insert the tapered part of the oil tube into the bottom hole and squeeze or pump if you have a pump filler. When oil starts to come out of the top hole, the unit is full. Pull out the oil filler and quickly get the bottom screw back in the hole. It is okay if a little oil runs out, but only a little. Replace the upper screw and you are ready

Most motors have a few grease fittings on them and they to need a squirt or two. Find these fittings, clean them off and squirt grease in them until it comes out at another location on the motor. There will usually be two fitting where the steering cable goes through the front of the motor, and one or two where the motor turns at the base.

Now that we have made a mess on the drive way, we are almost ready to head to the water and leave the mess for the kids to clean up. But first we need to get out the rods and reels and work on them a little.

Get all of your reels, take them off of the rods and remove all of the old line. An easy way to remove the old line is to take a 2 liter soda bottle, get a couple of flat washers, a 3 to 4 inch long bolt and a nut that fits the bolt. Drill a hole in the center of the cap of the soda bottle about the same size as the nut. Run the nut through the hole, long end on the outside, washer on each end and tighten down on the nut. Screw the cap back on the bottle, get your drill motor, place the end of the nut in the drill and you have a home made, old line remover, holder. Tie the line to the bottle and you are ready to strip off the old line. I like to back off of the drag completely of put the reel into free spool while removing the line with this method. Now that you have removed all of the old you are ready to wipe the spool down with a light coat of oil before spooling new line on the reel. I also like to squirt some reel oil into all the places that are marked OIL. I also take off the spool, the handle and the cap on the other side of the handle on spinning reels. Clean the shaft, and squirt a little oil on the hole under the cap and where the handle shaft went. There a re bearings on each side of the reel under these caps and I like to try to get a few drops on them. You can also put a drop or two on any other moving parts. After you have oiled your reel, wipe it down with one of your wife's nice bath towels that you have hid in the shop. Just don't tell her that I had anything to do with you having this towel.

Now you are ready to put the new line on and attach the reel back to the rod. I like to spray a little WD-40 on the guides or rollers on the rod after I have spooled the new line. These parts are also metal and you know what salt water does to metal.

It is probably not a bad idea to get your tackle box out and get it ready. If you are like me, you have some straightening up to be done there as well.

I hope this has helped you get ready for the new season.

Good Fishing
Capt. Jim Hammond

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