Get ready for open water fishing
What a spring! When was the last time you can remember no snow and open water by the 1st of April? It is hard to remember when I have seen the ice conditions deteriorate as rapidly as we have experienced over the last week to ten days. It is time to get all your spring chores done and get the boats ready for an extended early season on crappies, sunfish, and perch.
I will list a few considerations to get your boat ready and reduce the potential frustrations for the maiden voyage this spring. One of the biggest concerns that is easy to check, and can save a bundle in repairs, is checking your lower unit oil. To check the lower unit oil unscrew the screw at the bottom of the lower unit. It will only drip slightly unless you take the screw at the top of the lower unit out. The oil should be clear and clean. If no oil drips out, you will need to fill your lower unit with oil. If the oil is milky white or if water comes out before any oil, drain the unit and refill with fresh lower unit oil. Make sure that you charge all batteries in your boat and check to make sure all connections are clean and tight. Connect your electronics and make sure they are powering up as well. Also check boat lights, horn, and any other electronics your boat may have to make sure everything is in working order. It is a good idea to hook up a motor muff so you can start and run your motor before you ever head to the lake. The motor muff will go over the water intake on your lower unit. It is attached to your garden hose so you can run water through your motor and not over heat your engine or burn out the impeller on your water pump while test running your motor. Make sure your motor is spraying water as this indicates your water pump is working. Make sure your boat license is up to date and you are legal to have your boat on the water.
It is just as important to make sure everything is in good shape on your trailer. A trailer that is not ready for the road can be dangerous and costly. Check tire pressure and check over the tires for any wear concerns or bulges. Grease the trailer bearings. Check your trailer lights to make sure your stop, turn, and running lights are working.
These few checks can save you time, money, and aggravation. If you check your trailer and boat out right now you can resolve any problems in time to still get out on the water right away. If you do run into some difficulties you can't resolve yourself, you can get your boat or trailer in for repair now. You will still be early enough at this point to beat the mad rush that is soon to come for all our local marine repair shops.
Water levels are as low as we have seen in years. Some accesses will be a challenge for launching with these low water conditions. I am guessing most of our lakes are at least three feet lower this year than they usually are at ice out. When you do get to the lake, be careful and navigate wisely.
(Laabs runs Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)