Don 't forget to winterize your boat

  • Follow Fishing

You're not going to go fishing until water and air temperatures grow warmer, so do you just park your boat and forget it for the rest of the winter? Not if you're smart.

I spoke to my friend, David Annis, of Augusta Marine, on Thursday morning about what owners should do to winterize their boats and why.

I've always made it a practice when winter temperatures dip into the 30s to lower my water-cooled 90-hp outboard motor and allow its foot to drain after each fishing trip.

"That's a good idea because a hard freeze can form ice in the gear case and break the housing," Mr. Annis said. "You also have the bulging battery syndrome. Check your plastic battery case and if it's bulging at the ends, that means the battery has frozen. That can be avoided by plugging in the charger, or moving the battery inside a storage shed."

Inboard-outboard engines are just like auto engines, except if they're going to be put up for the winter all water has to be drawn off the block and manifold, he said. "Don't forget the dump hose connected to the water pump. Pull it free and drain it. Newer model inboard-outboards have a quick release valve which makes it easy to drain the motor."

Failure to drain means ice damages to blocks, valves and everything else, "and it's not a warranty issue," he said. "It also means having to buy a new motor. If the motors are going to sit up all winter, a stabilizer needs to be added to the gas and the motor needs to be run at least once a month to spread the stabilized gas through the carburetor. You can get a hose attachment that fits over the intakes on the outboard's foot, turn the water pressure on low, crank up the motor and let it run for a minute or two in your carport or yard."

- Ralph Barbee's fishing show on TV has been moved to a new time on Sundays because of the start of ACC basketball. It airs at 1:30 p.m., instead of 2.

THURMOND LAKE

Capt. David Willard, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed full-time professional fishing guide specializing in hybrids and stripers and trophy largemouth bass. (Boat phone: (706) 214-0236. (803) 637-6379 (www.crockettrocket striper fishing.com) -- Water temperature has plummeted into the 40s and fishing has gotten tough. If we get any more global warming, we'll need an icebreaker to fish out of. I scouted on Tuesday and found some good fish by mid-morning. I don't know if they're going to hold, but I hope they will.

I have a group going on Saturday, weather permitting, and it sure will be nice if we don't have to ride around the lake looking for fish. The fish I caught this week hit live herring 24 to 30 feet down over the river channel. They were suspended and just hanging around. There were some loons around so there probably was bait.

Capt. William Sasser, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in crappies, hybrids and striped bass. (706) 589-5468 -- I took out a party of die-hard fishermen from Waycross, Ga., last Sunday. They were willing to go fishing despite frigid conditions. We had to ride around for a few hours until we located some fish, but Willie Davis and his wife, Tonya, and their friends, Willie and Denise Edwards, caught a nice mess of fish. We located a few schools 50 feet deep in 80 feet of water and they caught numerous 4- and 5-pound hybrids and 6- and 8-pound stripers. The cold weather had pushed the bait down deep, making the seagulls sit on the roof of our boat. Check out my Web site at www.williamsasser fishing.com.

Capt. Tommy Dudley, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed professional guide specializing in stripers and hybrids. (706) 833-4807 -- The water and weather got ice cold and the fishing got tough, so I drained the water out of my outboard motor's foot and covered the boat until things get better. My VHF radio handle is Boat Racer and I can be reached on Channel 68. My Web site is www.fishlakethurmond.com.

Albert Moody, Clark Hill Herring Hut, Clarks Hill, S.C. (864) 333-2000 -- Timothy Kangas, of Augusta; Karla Leggett and Dakota Leggett, of Clarks Hill; fishing downlines in Dordon Creek, caught eight stripers and hybrids up to 10 pounds. Ted Boileau, of Evans, and Tony Polson, of Jackson, S.C., caught 15 hybrids and stripers in the 5-pound range on Tuesday.

SAVANNAH

Miss Judy Charters, Capt. Judy Helmey, (912) 897-4921 (www.missjudycharters.com.) P.O. Box 30771, Savannah, Ga. 31410-0771 -- Brrrr! Our ocean temperatures have dropped below 50 degrees and when it gets that cold, things down under get a little strange. Most fish go into the semi-hibernation mode. Moving about and feeding habits go into slow motion.

Most tackle stores in our area won't have live shrimp unless some are imported from Florida. I'd suggest trying artificial lures for spotted sea trout. Lead-headed plastic grubs need to be retrieved as slowly as possible.

Ultralight and light spinning tackle are the ways to go, with 8-pound-test line and e-ounce lead-head jigs onto which screwtail or paddletail grubs can be threaded. If the water is clear, use a clear-colored lure; if muddy, fish a solid color like chartreuse, or white, or red.

Don't forget our inshore fishing schools Jan. 16 and Feb. 20 and our offshore school Jan. 30. Give me a call for details.


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