September 27, 2023
It’s that time of year where you may need to run an air conditioner during the day and furnace at night. That, and you see football on TV, are good indicators it’s time to start preparing for the cooler months. For some of you that means making sure the freezer is full and wood is chopped, but if outdoor pursuits are your hobby make sure to take care of other chores before it’s too late and you’re scrambling to get it done after winter has arrived.
Here are seven I make sure to have done as winter nears.
1. Fuel—Today’s fuel isn’t like it used to be. Rather its ethanol that loses octane quickly, the end result is still bad fuel that can harm your expensive toys. Make sure to use non-ethanol fuels and put some type of stabilizer in each time as winter nears. Just putting it in the tank at the end of the year is not enough. It is very important to have both the “good gas” and stabilizer run into the lines and engine itself. Look for stabilizers such as Star Tron that are highly concentrated and effective. Most of the time you won’t need a full bottle per tank. And to be honest, it’s a good idea to put this stuff in with every other fill of the tank.
2. Take Inventory—If you put away lures with busted hooks or run out of your most used terminal tackle and soft plastics, chances are you’ll still be out of them come springtime. The lull between the seasons or when watching football is also a prime time to tie up snells and leaders for the next season. Use this time to swap out the hooks and make a list of what is needed. Heck you may even save some money on it during an end of season or holiday sale.
3. Lower Unit—The reality is we don’t often see a problem until the damage is done, which is typically the case with a lower unit on a boat motor. A lower unit that has a leaky seal and has been taking on water may still be working, even if some slight damage has been done. When the temps drop and the water in the gear case freezes and expands it causes the housing to crack—now you have a much bigger problem. Late summer is a good time to change your lower unit fluid rather you are laying your boat up or plan on fishing all fall. If you do find water in your lower unit, make sure to replace seals before you do anything else.
4. Inspect—Sometimes something as simple as looking closely at the wear on your trailer or any of your toy’s tires will help you find a problem before it becomes much worse. Don’t be the guy who waits to fire up his snow blower just before the first snowfall of the year, only to find out it won’t run. A few years back a buddy opened his enclosed trailer to find that mice had eaten everything from his ice shanties to the wiring on his flashers and ATV. The same could be said for trolling motor and boat props, reels or guides on your rod. Procrastination is a killer. Go through everything now!
5. Charge—Even the best batteries will draw down just sitting there while not being used. In many cases, we don’t realize that a battery not being used is still losing juice significantly because of accessories in our equipment that have a phantom draw even when not in use. Take this time to put all your batteries on a charger to top them off. Before doing this an even better tip is to use a voltmeter to see how much the battery was pulled down. If it was significant, consider using a full-size charger and installing a master shutoff switch to help eliminate this issue in the future.
6. Plugs—If it takes gas, chances are you need a spark plug. Fouled or incorrectly gaped spark plugs can cause motor issues that are easily avoidable. Plugs for ATV’s, boat motors or augers can be hard to find and quickly fly off the shelf when everyone else realizes they need new ones, too. Besides large outboard motors, plugs are cheap enough to always have an extra set or two on hand. Make sure to write on the box what they go on to avoid any confusion later.
7. Grease—Something as simple as a couple squirts of grease can save you a large headache come winter. Items such as bearings, jack stands, motor fittings and snowmobile suspensions all require grease to keep them moving and to minimize extra wear. Putting in a little bit of grease can help push out water or let you see where it was actually needed. If you live or will be fishing where temps get below zero look for a cold weather synthetic all-purpose grease that resists water. This will ensure everything is covered and you will only need one grease gun.
Capt. Ross Robertson