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Idle boats require maintenance

February 14, 2009

If you're not a year-round fisherman and your boat has been sitting on standby waiting for warmer weather, now is the time to get some maintenance chores done.

Has your gas tank been sitting for months and months, half or less empty?

You might want to inspect it for water contamination. Ethanol additives now in gas cause any water in your tank to bond with the ethanol, sink, and lay at the bottom of the tank in a sludge which is then pumped into your engine, accounting for nearly 50 percent of all service calls in this area. This is called phase separation.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

If sitting for a really long time you may want to consider having it extracted and disposed of properly. Fill with fresh fuel and top off if you can afford it. Inspect and change all fuel filters, especially water separating filters such as a RACOR. All boats, new and old, are being affected with the ethanol blues and changing fuel filters is the game right now.

This is also the time of year to go over the entire boat. Start with all electrical connections and look at each one if you can. Anything that looks corroded or suspect in any way, redo it right and upgrade the connection if you can.

Protect electrical panels that are exposed to salt air. Organize and simplify sloppy wiring and replace bad switches. Go over all lights and their sockets for corrosion and consider adding more night cockpit lighting for night fishing. Bilge pumps are always causing issues so get them working properly.

Check all steering parts and lines for wear or issues. While you have the hood off changing filters look for obvious oil leaks and repair. Changing your own plugs is easy and a fast way to save money at the pump and at the marina. Also, changing lower unit oil is easy for the shade tree mechanic to do.

Inspect all safety equipment and replace and upgrade where you can, especially offshore guys. Don't forget seats, teak, canvas, and gel coats. That's right, wax it to preserve it, at least twice a year.

If anything will go wrong first, it may be your trailer. Grease, grease, grease, and keep those bearings full. Install Bearing Buddies and Bearing Buddy Covers to keep out sand and grit. If bearings and seals are old, replace them. Install two new LED sealed submersible trailer lights ASAP and save trailer light bulb problems. Inspect connections of all types, including tires, and correct weight distribution of the boat on the trailer.

Cape Tool & Tackle reports heated snook action in the warmer waters of the power plant area. Actually. the railroad trestle bridge to Rt. 31 Bridge has been productive. Good trout in Matlacha Pass on shrimp or lures (Mirr-O-lures and jigs). Check out Indian Fields. Reds in the sound, on the right tides. Josyln Island, a good place to start.

Lehr's Economy Tackle weighs in with tarpon reports of the Caloosahatchee kind, as well as big pods of snook in the creeks where you can find them. Amberjack (40-60 pounds) stretch your strings (per mentally) at 120 feet.

Trout and reds in Upper Matlacha Pass and pompano being caught inside at many locations in Pine Island Sound and other locations. Every year tarpon gather in the upper stretches of the river and winter there. At times they are quite catchable on lures or bait. Other times they are extremely finicky. It's simply a matter of putting your time in and you will connect. These are 10- to 150-pound or larger tarpon.

Experiment, as it seems to change hour by hour. Live/dead baits, such as mullet or ladyfish, will do. Try Mirr-O-lures and all other plugs with various retrieves as well as jigs. Try big live shrimp.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at, or Flying Fins Sportfishing.



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