Don’t neglect to winterize your gear

While there still is some time to get out in the boat and catch a few fish, the open-water season is nearing its end here in Northwestern Ontario.
That means that after you’re finished up with using your boat, you need to take care of it, the motor, the accessories on your boat, and your fishing tackle so that you’re ready to hit the water again next spring when a new season begins.
If you are anything like me, the best idea is to bring your boat to a mechanic who knows what they are doing to take care of your motor before winter.
While this process, which can include changing the lower unit oil and draining whatever fluids need to be drained, is not overly tough, I like to have the peace of mind of letting a professional take care of it.
When it comes to batteries, many people take them right out of the boat for the winter but that is unnecessary. It’s fine to leave your batteries in the boat–just make sure they are fully charged and then disconnect the positive terminals so they are not drained down over the winter.
You also need to make sure you get all of the water out of your boat before you put it away. If water freezes in the bottom of the boat, in the livewell or bilge lines, or in the boat’s compartments, it can cause things to crack or leak.
After the boat gets put to bed, it’s time to take care of your fishing equipment. I start by cutting the lures off all of my fishing rods. Over the summer, I have been piling up tackle on a table in my garage, so these baits get added to that pile and now it’s time to sort them all out.
I like to peel all of the used line from my reels, unless it is relatively fresh braided line that still will be good to go in a few months. All of my reels then get hit with some WD-40 and a cloth to remove any dirt, stains, or grime that I can find on them.
If any screws need to be tightened, then that is taken care of. And if any reels need repairs, then they go to the repair guy.
My rods get wiped down, as well, to remove any dirt and then they are inspected for any nicks in the guides. I store my rods on the ceiling of my garage on racks designed for holding a 2×8 board to function as a shelf.
I put the rods on the racks in place of the boards (it’s a slick way to store your rods and keep them out of the way).
Finally, I like to go through all of my tackle boxes and make sure there are no hooks with rust on them in any of the boxes. Rust can be shared from one lure to another and it will ruin your hooks, so make sure there are no rusty hooks in your boxes.
Meanwhile, a lot of the soft plastics we use today are impregnated with salt, so be careful to check your boxes for any salty plastics because they will cause your jigs and lures to rust, as well.
For me, the new fishing season starts in January when the FLW Tour bass circuit kicks off at Lake Okeechobee in Florida, so it’s important for me to get all of my tackle organized for a new season.
After several years of travelling the U.S. to compete in bass tournaments, I have a better idea of the tackle that I need to pack and bring on the road with me. Being organized is a big deal.
Hopefully, we get another blast or two of warm weather in the coming weeks so we can get in a few more trips out in the boat. But the long-range forecast looks like things are going to continue trending towards winter.
Just a part of living in Northwestern Ontario, I guess.

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