Boat Winterization: Don’t Forget It

By Thomas Allen and Tommy Skarlis


I just fished my final bass tournament of the year during the first week of October and that was my official last “hoorah” for the 2012 fishing season as whitetails, ducks and geese will consume what free I can find from here on out. We won’t go into details about the tourney, let’s just say, I didn’t do well at all!


If you’re anything like me, your seasons tend to overlap, meaning you might have to multi-task and take care of chores for both during those short windows. The time to winterize your boat and put it into storage is either at hand or just down the road. Even if you fish until ice-up, keeping in mind what needs to happen on the last day you hit the water will make putting the rig away much simpler.


Livewell pumps and lines, electronics, gas tanks, and especially your outboard, which can handle the often brutal conditions of an Iowa winter, but only if they are adequately prepared. The result of negligence will likely cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars next spring and a further delay of your cure for cabin fever after a long, cold winter.


Waukon, Iowa native and professional walleye angler, Tommy Skarlis has a few tips for getting this season-ending project completed. “If you love to hunt, prepping your boat for storage can seem like a distraction, but its something that will require a bit of your attention if you want your rig to survive the winter and be readily available for next spring, and for years to come.”

“Rodents need to be considered whenever you are about to store your rig for the winter,” he says. “Mice have a funny way of finding their way into any ‘cover’ that might exist out of the elements. Be sure to completely remove any trash or something that could be considered food. I like to place some Fresh Cab Rodent Repellent throughout the boat, which seems to work very effectively. Above that, keep the boat tightly covered and you should be good!”

“Another great tip for winterization, especially for a boat that will be stored outside, is to run some RV anti-freeze through your recirculator, livewell and bilge pumps,” Skarlis explains. “A gallon is all you’ll need to get this accomplished and it will prevent any water remaining in the system to damage the lines or pumps, which are not cheap to get repaired.

“I run an Evinrude E-TEC so winter prep is a snap,” he continues. “But otherwise, I suggest taking the boat and motor to a dealer and have them do a thorough inspection and winterization. For the DIY guys, get a hold of an E-Z Lube system where draining your lower unit lube is a piece of cake.”

“As far as batteries go, I prefer the maintenance-free Optimas,” he says. “Before winterization, pull your batteries out of the boat and place them on a piece of carpet to prevent any acid from seeping out. I keep the batteries hooked up to a Minn Kota MK460 charger/maintainer throughout the winter and they are good as new once spring arrives. Also note what items need replaced, repaired or added to your boat and begin your Christmas list!”

Finally, Skarlis suggests giving the boat a very thorough cleaning because once the time comes in March to pull it out of storage, the last thing you want to have to deal with is the mess left prior to winter storage. Take the time now to invest in next season’s fishing opportunities—you’ll be glad you did!


Check out the Ouside Iowa site here: