Tips for mid-season boat maintenance

It’s the first of August. That means it’s time to do a little mid-season maintenance on your rig. Nobody likes to do it. It’s more fun to be out fishing. If you’ll spend a few dollars and take a short day to do it, however, the last half of your season will be more fun.

I’m going to give you a few of the high points in this column but remember that every manufacturer has a website with a list of specifics for their particular piece of equipment. I’d suggest you take a look at it before you go to work. Do exactly what they tell you to do. They make it and don’t want it to fail.

The first thing we should all do is change our lower unit lubricants. I’m always amazed at how little fluid there is in something that spins and moves at the speed of an outboard motor’s lower unit. It’s surprising that it holds up at all. If you doubt the importance of changing the lubricant call your dealer and ask how much a new lower unit costs.

Another benefit to this is that when you remove your prop you can check for fishing line that’s wrapped around the shaft. That’ll destroy your seals and cause you a ton of trouble over time. This is especially important now that braided line is popular. Braid is tough. It’s like wire down there. It destroys everything, and it’s everywhere. It’s so bad that most of us check our prop every time we take our boat out of the water.

You’ll also want to check all the bolts and nuts on your transom, motor mounts and jack plate. Take it from me, they can and do work loose. The vibration from loose bolts can cause serious damage. Should they come completely apart at full power, the resulting accident can be catastrophic, even fatal in some cases.

It’s also important to check your trailer. Make sure the bearings are greased and that the tire pressure is good. It’s silly to lose a day’s fishing over $10 and a short hour’s work. While you’re doing that, take a few minutes to make certain your pin on the hitch lock is working properly and that the safety chains are in good shape. We’ve had a couple of Elite Series guys find out about the importance of that the hard way this year.

I know this isn’t the sexiest topic on planet earth. Nevertheless, it’s darn important. Modern bass boats are expensive. Most of us hurt a little financially when we buy one. There’s absolutely no reason to neglect maintenance.

If you follow professional bass angling, you’ll notice that we have relatively few equipment problems, despite the way we use everything. That’s because most of us know and understand the importance of taking care of stuff.

Next week, we’ll talk a little about the last Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open. It’s on Cayuga Lake in New York. That’s a pretty neat lake, much different than most of what we fish. 

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