Boat hibernation

October 20, 2008

Faith Outdoors

With a touch of sadness, I put my fishing boat in storage on Friday. My co-worker at The Catholic Spirit, Jim Graham, lives out in the country and offered his barn for storage. I quickly agreed and he picked up the boat after he got off of work on Friday.

To ensure proper winterizing, I contacted Hannay’s Marine in northeast Minneapolis for some tips. I was glad to find out that the marina offers a tip sheet for winterizing, along with the necessary products. The good news is, I didn’t have to spend much to get what I needed.

Here’s a summary of the important tips for every boat owner:

1. Batteries. Make sure you fully charge all of your marine batteries and disconnect the wires. As I learned from the company that manufactures the batteries I own, Northern, it’s best to store batteries that are fully charged and to keep them outside in the cold. One of the principal people in the company assured me that batteries stored in this manner will be ready to go in the spring and not lose their charge. They also will last longer.

2. Outboard motor. The key here is to put fuel stabilizer (Stabil) in your gas tank and run the motor with this fuel for about 10 minutes. This ensures that the old gas is run out of the engine and is replaced by the stabilized fuel, which won’t turn to varnish and corrode or gum up engine parts. Also, near the end, remove the engine casing and spray the carbuerators with a fogging fluid (Engine Stor).

3. Gear lube. The last step is to replace the gear lube, which is located on the lower unit. Hannay’s recommends doing this once a year, preferably in the fall. First, you remove both screws and drain out the old fluid. Then, you pump the new fluid in and pump until it comes out of the top screw. You’ll put in about 2/3 to 3/4 of a quart. In the process, you’ll also flush out any water that got in.

I did all of these things the day before Jim picked up my boat and it only took about an hour. It was time well spent. I now have peace of mind about the condition of my boat for storage. I look forward to another fishing season with the boat next year.

This was a great year and my best ever for bass, in terms of size. I caught the biggest bass of my life, at 5 pounds, 11 ounces. Plus, I caught three others weighing more than 5 pounds and my two oldest boys, Joe and Andy, each caught one over 5. That makes 6 total over 5 pounds. There were two others that went about 4 3/4, and several more in the 4-pound range.

I will carry the memories of these big fish through the winter. But, I’m not done fishing just yet. My friend, Pete Wolney, and I are going up to Lake of the Woods next week for one last fishing trip.

It’s an annual event for us and we fish the Rainy River during the annual migration of walleyes from the lake into the river. Shiner minnows come into the river every fall by the thousands and the walleyes follow. It’s happening later this year, but both walleyes and shiners have started to come up river. So, next week should be good.

This is a great time to catch walleyes of all sizes, including big ones in the 8- to 10-pound range.
I talked to a guy earlier this summer who lives up there and fishes the lake throughout the year. He says the lake is producing more and more big walleyes and he thinks the slot limit imposed several years ago is making a difference. You have to release all walleyes between 19 1/2 and 28 inches, which, naturally, has led to an increased number of fish in that size range. We noticed that last year and hope it will be true again this year. Also, there are plenty of fish under 19 1/2 inches, which means we should catch plenty of fish for the frying pan. Can’t wait for a meal of fresh walleye!


About Dave Hrbacek

Staff photographer and writer for The Catholic Spirit. Also, avid outdoors enthusiast with a passion for hunting, fishing and photography. Married to Julie and have four children, three boys and a girl.

View all posts by Dave Hrbacek