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THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN: Winterize your boat now so it's good to go next spring

We are reaching the end of the open water fishing season in our area. The weather will be taking a dramatic swing to take us into winter over the next few weeks. I hope you were able to get a couple of good year-end trips under your belt. For some real die-hard fisherman there will still be open water opportunities available all through November and December on the Rainy River. The open water season never stops on pool four at Red Wing.

If you haven't winterized your boat at this point you will want to get that done now. Some of us never really winterize our boats, we just get them ready for winter. If your boat is going to be in storage for three or more months you will want to winterize.

The easiest way to get your boat winterized is to take your rig to one of the many marine service centers in our area. All of them have been extremely busy. Call to make your arrangements. For those of you that are the do-it-yourself type, I will include a checklist that can be helpful in preventing expensive repairs. Proper preparation now can provide for an easy transition to your open water season next spring.

First and foremost, make sure you get all the water out. This includes making sure live-wells, bait-wells, hull, aerators, re-circulation & bilge pumps are all emptied. Trim your motor down and make sure water is drained from your lower unit. Drain your lower unit oil and replace with fresh oil so it is good to go for next spring. If you have any water in the lower unit and it freezes, you could be inviting costly repairs.

If your motor is carborated, fogging is recommended. If your motor is fuel injected, there are many high quality fuel additives that can be added to keep the injectors clean. You want your motor to start and run for you trouble free next spring.

I think it is a good idea for all motors to experience a product like "seafoam" added to the gasoline and run through them before you shut it down for the winter. Fill your gas tank and add a fuel stabilizer. Leaving tanks empty can invite moisture, a dreaded enemy to the internal combustion engine.

Make sure your batteries are charged and all connections are cleaned. Some anglers remove batteries and store them inside to extend their life. I don't, but I make sure they get charged during the off-season, and I will use my boat during the winter months. If you leave the batteries in the boat, charge them once a month so they are in good shape for next season.

Make sure you clean out your boat. No need to be surprised with a mess or bad smells in the spring. Adding dryer sheets may keep the mice out of compartments (or give them something to chew on other than your stuff!).

Grease bearings on your trailer and check tires to make sure they are fully inflated. This is also a good time to make sure any trailer wiring problems are resolved.

When the boat, motor, trailer, and gear all handled we can start getting winter fishing gear ready.

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