You can’t just uncover the boat and head out onto the lake!

Too often, winter-weary and anxious fishermen head for the lake, boat in tow, with little or no preparation. And just as often, things go wrong.

That’s why smart anglers and other boat owners need to spend a Saturday afternoon getting boat, motor, and trailer ready for the first half of the fishing and boating season. Everything mentioned here should to be repeated at mid-season.

Trailer tips

Start with the trailer. Check for cracks, loose bolts, expired plates, ragged or missing tie downs, winch problems, and other visible problems.

Check the leaf springs and spray them with a lubricant to eliminate squeaks.

Now pull the wheels and if needed, repack the bearings. If you see streaks of grease on the wheels, it’s a good bet that one or more seals need replaced.

Inflate tires to the maximum cold pressure listed on the tire — a little known practice that adds thousands of miles of life to any trailer tire.

Check lights

Lastly, connect the lights to your tow vehicle and check the lights. Common lighting problems are bad lamps and corroded ground connections.

Spring cleaning

Vacuum the boat and look in storage areas for mouse leavings that need to be removed. Use a spray cleaner and course rag on the seats then apply a vinyl conditioner.

It’s the right time to clean battery terminals and any correct navigation light problems.

And while you are in the boat, check all safety equipment for condition and operation including the expiration dates on flares.

Get your motor runnin’

Now move to the engine. Do not turn the engine over without connecting a water line to the outdrive or lower unit. Just by turning an engine over for a second or two can destroy the impeller, the rubber vaned pump that provides cooling water to the engine.

With water connected, go ahead and run the engine. Bring it up to operating temperature.

Check the dash instruments to be sure they are operating properly. Oil pressure, battery charge, engine temperature are very important. Run the engine for at least 10 minutes to charge the starting battery.

Now you are ready for trouble free boating.

About the Author

Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer, and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian. More Stories by Mike Tontimonia

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