Guest Post by Christine Morford
If you’re a boat owner, fishing is just one of many activities you can partake in on the water. Whether you’re a seasoned fisherman or woman who embarks on trips with the intention of bringing home a sizable haul or if you’re a casual hobbyist more interested in spending a fun day on the water, it’s important to be diligent with your boat’s upkeep and keep the right gear on hand to ensure you’re safe and prepared for future fishing expeditions.
Just as you do with your car, you need to keep track of oil and filter change intervals with your boat so that a breakdown doesn’t derail your fishing trip. Track the hours you spend on your boat and cross-check it with your manufacturer’s recommendations. Oil changes are typically performed every 50–100 hours. Oil changes are a great time to check for oil or fuel leaks in the bilge or water. You should also get in the habit of checking before you go out for a longer fishing trip.
Lubricate your electrical components regularly to keep things running as they should. Keep marine-grade grease on hand to ensure they stay protected before, during, and after a fishing trip. Pay special attention to your propellers; fishing line from previous trips can easily get caught and wrapped around the shaft, effectively destroying the seal and leading to leaks.
It’s also important to be mindful of fuel levels and quality whenever you’re getting ready to take your boat out. Consider purchasing fuel stabilizer to add to your tank to keep the fuel fresh and clean. It’s a relatively inexpensive investment and you’ll notice the difference when your engine runs at its peak performance for longer. Before a trip, make sure you have enough fuel in the tank to get out and back. Go by the two-thirds rule: plan to use two-thirds of your fuel supply to complete the journey, leaving one-third as a reserve in the event that wind, waves, or other weather conditions change on your return.
Cleaning is of course a big part of the post-fishing trip checklist. However, you want to make sure you set out on a trip with everything in pristine condition, so nothing keeps you from casting as soon as you’re out on the water. First and foremost, your boat needs an onboard washdown pump to things clean with minimal effort. Some of the best offerings are ones with multiple pressure settings so you can hit more sensitive areas like windows and hatches with lower pressure and avoid seepage and rust. It’s always a good idea to periodically rinse down your boat while you’re fishing to save time and effort at the end of the trip.
A few other cleaning essentials to have on hand include a sponge, bucket, and mild soap for more thorough washes. You might also want to invest in some Bar Keepers Friend for tackling tough stains and splatter. Don’t forget waxes, polishes and protectants for seat cushions and other surfaces that are vulnerable to harsh UV rays.
In addition to cleaning supplies, regardless of how long you plan to be out or how far you plan to stray from shore, you need to run through a quick safety gear checklist. This includes a first aid kit with items to clean and bandage injuries (especially those sustained from hooks) as well as medications for common ailments like headaches, allergies and seasickness. You should also have flares, lift jackets, a life raft, an AED, fire extinguisher and a man overboard system.
Lastly, don’t forget about general supplies for you and your passengers. Stock up on water, snacks, and sunscreen. Consider keeping extra pairs of sunglasses, hats and sweaters on your boat during fishing season. You never know when something small will go overboard or a chilly wind will pick up. If you plan to gut fish onboard, boots are also a good idea.
While cleaning gear, safety equipment, and snacks are important to have for all boating excursions, a few additional items will come in handy for a fishing expedition. The most obvious include rods, reels, and bait. If you plan to troll, or keep your lure at a fixed depth, invest in a downrigger, which help keep the line safely in place. After a trip, particularly if you’re fishing in saltwater, rinse down all your equipment, from tackle boxes to lures, to avoid rust and corrosion.
If you plan on keeping the fish you catch, you’ll also want a cooler. Don’t forget supplies for cleaning your cooler; this is best done as soon as you’ve returned and removed the fish, otherwise smells can linger and mold can develop, ruining a cooler forever. Cleaning tablets are available, but sometimes nothing beats a decent scrub brush and some baking soda.
Make sure your tool kit is well-stocked with gloves, pliers, spare parts, and scissors or wire cutters, which will come in handy for cutting fishing line. You might also want to bring along a Fish Finder or Chartplotter. If you plan to troll for long periods of time during your outing, it might be wise to invest in autopilot for your boat.
Fishing is an awesome way to spend time outdoors, either with a group of friends or on your own. The ability to fish from a boat elevates the experience greatly. Whether you want to spend a day on the water with friends catching and releasing fish or if a solitary expedition is more your speed, you can follow these tips to ensure your trip goes smoothly and safely and your boat stays in great shape for many trips to come.
Christine Morford is the Category Director for BOATiD.com. Driven by her love for the outdoors and passion for the water, she has happily spent the last ten-plus years working in the marine industry.