Winter Boating Tips

  • Make sure your cranking and trolling motor batteries are fully charged and bring battery cables to jump your cranking battery from your trolling motor battery -- just in case.
  • Don't use your livewell or built-in baitwells. Prevent intake and drain lines from freezing; instead, put any fish you're going to keep in a cooler on ice and use a bucket for bait.
  • Try not to get any water in the boat. If you net a fish, keep the net hanging over the side the boat. Any water in the boat will freeze immediately, creating slippery conditions.

  • After loading the boat, let all the water drain out of the boat and motor. Trim the motor all the way down and start the motor for two to three seconds to remove all the water.

  • If you think you have enough warm clothes, bring some more; you can always shed clothing. It's important to keep every body part covered, including your hands and face.
  • Bring a portable propane heater to dry and warm your hands, and whatever else needs warming.
  • Wear a lifejacket and always keep it on. The water is extremely cold, and you're wearing a lot of clothes that will get heavy if you fall overboard.
  • When loading and unloading, keep the trailer winch hooked until the boat is in the water. Bunk trailers remaining frozen after the last fishing trip, for instance, get icy and extremely slippery. Unhook the boat too soon, and you could prematurely unload your boat right on the ramp, just shy of the water.

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