The clocks just jumped ahead an hour, and daytime temps are finally above the freezing mark. The days of ice fishing at your favorite lake are dwindling as the ice starts to get thinner and thinner.
Plans for spring fishing trips on open water out of my trusty Alumacraft are already bouncing around my head. Fishing out of a boat will be here before we know it, but before that happens, there are some important things to take care of before you're ready to hit the water this spring.
Pull the cowling off and give your motor a visual check. In the past, I've had mice make nests under the cowling over the winter. Make sure that the fuel lines are in good condition and that nothing has been chewed by pesky rodents.
From there, I check all of the fluids in the motor. The fluids should have been changed before you put your boat away for the winter, but I like to make sure there were no leaks and that all the levels are good. (If you did not change the fluids before winter, make sure that you do that before hitting the water.)
Check your prop for any chips or bends. A clean prop gives you better performance on the water. Hit all the grease zerks on the motor with some fresh grease, and lastly, top off the tank with some fresh gas.
Prior to my first open-water fishing trip of the year, I like to hook up to my trailer and check to make sure that all of the lights are working. I check the running lights, reverse lights, left and right turn signals, and any other light that might be on your trailer.
I also recommend checking the braking system. Most trailers have a breakaway system that locks up your trailer brakes if the trailer comes detached from your truck. Make sure that the system is operating correctly. Pull a trailer tire to visually check your brake pads and replace if necessary.
Check your tire tread while you're at it. Trailer tire blowouts are not fun. If your tires are showing any sign of significant wear, change them out for new ones now, rather than roadside during your first outing this spring.
Make sure your battery is charged. Check for any corrosion and clean as needed.
Power on all of your fish finder units to make sure they’re functioning, and be sure to update the firmware on your electronics; this is often an overlooked step. Updating firmware keeps your electronics up to date with the most recent technology. All the major brands of electronics have pretty straightforward instructions on their website to help you update firmware.
Check the prop on your trolling motor and replace it if it has any chips taken out of it. And if you use the remote for your trolling motor, replace the battery with a new one.
Turn on your running lights and bilge pump to ensure they're working, replacing them if necessary.
Check your boat and trailer registration to ensure that they’re up to date. Give your boat and trailer a once-over, and tighten down any screws or bolts that may have come loose throughout the year. Check and replace spark plugs as needed.
Make sure that you have the proper safety equipment in your boat so that you are legal and safe on the water. Check your fire extinguisher expiration date and replace it, if needed.
And finally, load up all of your fishing gear and patiently wait for your favorite lake to thaw out. Spring fishing will be here before you know it.