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Proper way to store that boat

November 14, 2009

This time of year when the first cold winds blow and the water temperatures start to fall, many fair weather fishermen think about putting old faithful on the lift or trailer for several months.

Being from the north originally, this is a strange phenomenon to me. Maybe it's because I'm a true fishing addict and I see fishing as a year-round sport anywhere on the planet, especially in the south.

Growing up in the mid-Atlantic states many times as teens we would head to the frozen pond in January and break ice with paddles till we got far enough out in the lake to catch crappies and an occasional surprised bass. I recall musky fishing with cousin Tim in Canada, in very late November. For six straight days in a howling sideways-driven rain and wind storm, we fished from 6 till 6 with ice in the rod guides, completely numb bodies, and the bottom of the boat an ice skating rink. Still, we never missed a day.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

When I hear a fishing buddy in these parts say, "Naw, don't wanna fish today. Too chilly," or "too windy" I start to get lulled into that frame of mind. I always stop and remind myself how soon I will be in the nursing home with my main concern being who the heck will change my Pampers, where did I leave those teeth again, and asking relatives "who the hell are you?"

Fish hard and long while you can folks, life is a short season.

If I have not inspired you to continue to fish and boat this winter and you still will be giving your boat a rest, do it properly so next season it will be ready to go. The fuel gremlins love a partially filled fuel tank sitting for months forming water and mixing with the ethanol supplements that the government force feeds us in our fuel, which in reality does nothing to protect the environment.

Avoid ethanol issues

The ethanol bonds to the water in the fuel and falls to the bottom of the tank in a milky sludge just waiting for May when the first few cranks of the motor forces this soup into carburetors and fuel injectors causing all kinds of problems. Most area dealers tell me that nowadays a full 50 percent of repairs are ethanol related.

Before storing, try to run out the old remaining fuel, fill with fresh fuel, and add an ethanol stabilizing product according to the manufacturer's directions. Lastly, install a new water separating filter and inspect for water contamination.

If your batteries are not the sealed maintenance-free type, top off with distilled water, and trickle charge them through the winter. Many outdoor companies offer solar trickle chargers that are fairly cheap, cost nothing to run, and do a good job of keeping your batteries in peak shape. While you are in there, inspect wiring and replace or repair any corrosion or bad wire issues that you put off this past summer.

Save money and learn how to change lower unit oil and install fresh plugs properly gapped. Inspect hydraulic steering hoses, fuel lines, throttle cables, props, bilge pumps, lid latches and hinges. Wash the boat and give it a good waxing to protect the hull and reduces fuel consumption. Wax the hull twice a season and keep the hull clean between waxing

You can't catch fish if you can't get old faithful to the water. Go over the trailer with a socket set, tightening nuts and bolts. Replace those rusted out tail lights that hang down and cause sparks on the road. The police do not count that as a working light.

Check tires for sidewall rot and cover to protect from the sun. Pull the wheels, inspect and grease the bearings. Flush the brakes and spray everything down with a corrosion control spray.

After all, you have the time.

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



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