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Getting your boat and equipment ready for winter

Many boaters and anglers have already said goodbye to this year's open water season.

Marine service centers have been busy winterizing boats for several weeks. Boat storage providers in the area are full or filling spots fast. It seems to be getting to that time of year.

Many others that have been holding out will winterize now, especially after this cold snap. It gets difficult for some enthusiastic fall fisherman to find balance in the fall schedule.

Getting out again with fall sports season playoffs, hunting seasons getting underway and last chances to wrap up fall chores and projects before the snow flies can be a challenge. If it is time for you to call an end to your open water season, you will want to take care of your boat and equipment now.

The easiest way to get your boat ready for winter storage is to take it to a professional. If you have a marine service center handle your winterization and storage, you may still want to make sure you are doing your part to make sure you are trouble free next spring.

Make sure you bring fish locators into the house for warm winter storage. Extreme cold can be hard on sophisticated electronic equipment and they are not cheap to replace.

Charge all batteries and if possible charge them a couple of times over the winter. Some will pull the batteries and store indoors to extend their life.

Clean out compartments and make sure anything left stored in the boat is clean and dry. It has been recommended by others to put dryer sheets in compartments to ward off mice infestation. I don't know if it really works or if it just gives them something to work with other than your gear and wiring.

Make sure baitwells don't have any leftover minnows and livewells don't have any regurgitated offerings left in them. It is a good thing to clean and rinse them out. Surprise nasty odors in the spring are not a good thing.

If you are doing your own winterizing you will also want to follow some standard winterization tips.

Change lower unit oil now so it will be fresh in the spring. Draining and changing lower unit oil will make sure you get any water out. Moisture and freezing water in boats can cause major problems. If you do have water in your lower unit or the oil is milky colored while draining, you have a problem. You will need to replace seals that have allowed leaking.

Add fuel and a fuel stabilizer to reduce the risk of moisture in your fuel system. Make sure you run your motor with the stabilizer to make sure it is also in your motors fuel system. If you have a carbureted motor use fogging spray (marine and/or auto supply stores carry products specifically for this application).

Some will empty fuel tanks and run motors out of fuel. For many that is not as easy to do as the old remote tank situations are becoming rarer.

Your livewells, baitwells, and hull should already be dry, but you will want to dry out other compartments and run pumps to make sure they are all also empty. Take your prop off and make sure it is free of ay fishing line. Line left behind the prop can take the seal out and allow water to get into your lower unit.

A dollars worth of line can cost a couple thousand dollars in repair. Make sure the water has been drained from your motors cooling system. You don't want water left in your water pump housing as this could cause an expensive repair also.

Make sure your trailer is ready to get put away with the boat also. Check the tires for proper inflation and repack wheel bearings or make sure they are in good shape and have proper grease. Replace any bulbs or bad wiring.

Some of us will do all this after the water gets hard....or just keep the boat active every month until next spring.

(Laabs runs Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)