Prepping your boat and motor for winter storage
I see steady, freezing overnight temperatures in the long-range forecast in my neck of the woods, and that’s usually when I get serious about pondering winter storage options for my boat, motor, and trailer. Freezing, expanding water can cause serious damage to this equipment if you don’t drain it, so if you still intend to fish this early winter, keep your boat in a heated garage or drain everything as soon as you leave the water.
For starters, lower your outboard all the way down to drain water from the lower unit. Hit the ignition key a couple of times to remove any remaining water. But be careful not to fully start the engine. Then drain water from livewells and turn on the pumps for a couple seconds to remove any remaining moisture. Leave the drains open so any other moisture that condenses doesn’t sit and potentially freeze. Lower your trolling motor to drain water from that unit, too.
Next, check your boat storage compartments and remove any freezable products like suntan lotion, portable livewells, water bottles, or other beverages.
It’s always a good idea to turn on the bilge pump for a couple seconds to pump out any remaining water. Be aware of any aquatic invasive species laws and rules in your area before draining.
Remember that water on your bunk trailer carpeting will freeze, thus causing the boat to slide off. Make sure your bow winch strap is tight before pulling the boat and trailer out.
Last but not least, when still fishing, check the ramp to see if it’s ice-covered. You do not want to be towing your vehicle and have it slide down into the water or spin wheels trying to exit.
Bottom line, take your time, be deliberate and diligent with your processes, and enjoy the productive, cold-weather fishing season.