As leaves begin to turn, freshwater begins to chill, and a crisp autumn breeze sweeps across (most of) the United States, the signals of fall indicate the end of the blissful summer months.
To usher in the autumnal season, boat owners across the United States—excluding those residing in the perpetually-warm South-Atlantic region—begin to swap their swim trunks for practical overalls and contemplate the future of their personal watercraft.
For those who wish to extend the season, certain fall fishing preparations are vital for extending the enjoyment of fishing in icier waters with a cool breeze at the helm. On the other-hand, for boat-owners who wish to bundle up themselves and their boat for the fall and ensuing winter seasons; proper and efficient winterization and storage will provide your boat remains in pristine condition, ready to be launched when temperatures rise once again.
1. Deep Clean
Before embarking on any fall fishing adventures, it's vital to give your boat a thorough cleaning. Remove any summer grime, debris, or leftover fishing equipment, as a clean boat not only looks better but also performs better on the water.
Click here for tried-and-true Boston Whaler cleaning tips.
2. Research Bait Migration
Fish behavior shifts along with the seasons, and it is recommended to research and understand the migration patterns of your target fish during the fall months. The knowledge of where exactly bait is moving, and in what capacity, will substantially aid in success rates of tracking and catching prime predators.
Bait migration is not a one-shoe-fits-all pattern, varying from fishing location and bait type. As a rule of thumb, mullet tend to gather near or in inlets, minnow swim from creeks to river mouths, and shad migrate from creeks to larger lakes.
3. Search for Warm Waters
Like those with southern vacation homes, fish tend to seek out warmer waters as temperatures drop. Leverage fish finders or consult local fishing reports to identify areas where water temperatures are slightly higher. Warmer water pockets offer consistent temperatures for bait to reside, and as gamefish migrate, predators chase their future meals to their new homes.
4. Increase your Bait Weight
In cooler water, fish may be deeper and less active. Consider using heavier baits to reach them effectively, as this will improve chances of attracting fish in colder conditions.
5. Seasonal Boat Status Checklist
Before heading out, create a checklist to ensure your boat is in top shape for the fall season. This should include:
· Engine check
· Lifejacket count
· Dipstick status
· Upholstery mold-inspection
· Wiring corrosion
· Fuel-line corrosion
· Hull walk-around
Grabbing a partner or friend to aid in the aforementioned inspections is recommended, adding an extra pair of eyes to ensure a holistic check-up. For a more detailed Boston Whaler checklist, click here.
6. Drain, Drain, Drain.
To prevent any damage from freezing temperatures, ensure all water is drained, taking special care around the engine, plumbing, and livewell. Neglecting this step can lead to costly repairs, and if moving boats from public or fresh water, can result in costly fines if invasive species or plants are found in un-drained vessels.
7. Slow your Troll
As water temperatures drop, fish tend to relax and become more sluggish. Adjust trolling speeds accordingly, keeping in mind that trolling speeds can mimic the movement of prey in cooler waters and attract more fish. Faster trolling speeds are efficient in the warmer months, blending with the fast movement of bait at this time, however, with slower moving bait, slower trolling will aid in blending-in with the prey.
8. Check for Gasoline Degradation
Gasoline can degrade over time and become less effective. Before your fall fishing excursions, check the condition of your fuel. If the tank has been sitting for a while, consider adding a fuel stabilizer to prevent issues.
9. Winter Supplies
Prepare for unexpected situations by stocking up on winter supplies. Winter and fall supplies includes warm clothing, emergency equipment, and tools for cold-weather boat maintenance. Remaining prepared and proactive ensures safety and comfort throughout the fall fishing season.
Taking the necessary steps to ensure your readiness for the fall fishing season will lead to efficient and highly satisfying fishing experiences, enabling you to pursue substantial catches and enjoy the delights of autumn angling to the fullest.
1. Deep Clean
At the start of every winterization process, it is vital to begin by giving your boat a thorough cleaning. Remove any dirt, algae, or salt residue from the exterior and interior, taking care to inspect upholstery for any mold or degradation issues. A deep clean at the end and beginning of every season not only helps maintain the boat's appearance, but also prevents corrosion and damage during storage.
2. Flush the Engine
Properly flush the engine with fresh water to remove any salt or impurities. Flushing the engine is a crucial step to prevent internal corrosion during storage and on the water. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines for your specific engine type. For maintenance tips and guidelines, click here.
3. Wash and Detail
After flushing the engine, it is recommended to wash and detail your boat's exterior. Apply a protective wax or polish to the hull to shield it from the elements and maintain its finish. Taking time to detail and leave your boat in pristine condition ensures the watercraft will be in mint-condition for the next season. For a comprehensive Boston Whaler cleaning, finishing, and detailing guide, click here.
Follow boat specific draining policies and drain all water from the boat, taking special care to flush the bilge, plumbing systems, and live wells. Water left in these areas can freeze and cause damage during storage, leading to complications in future seasons.
Although not required, and even if storing your boat with a reputable storage company, it is recommended to place a dehumidifier or moisture-absorbing products inside the cabin or other enclosed spaces of your boat. Dehumidifying products help prevent mold, mildew, and moisture-related damage during storage.
6. Cover and Store
To provide your boat with the most secure protection, cover your watercraft with a high-quality, breathable boat cover designed specifically for winter storage. Ensure that the cover fits snugly and covers the entire boat. If storing outdoors, consider shrink-wrapping for added protection against the elements.
7. Ensure Off-Season Insurance Coverage
Contact your insurance provider to adjust your coverage for the off-season. Coverage updates may include reducing certain coverage while maintaining protection against theft, vandalism, and other potential risks while your boat is in storage.
Following these winterization steps, you'll help preserve the condition of your boat during the colder months and ensure that it's ready for another season of adventures when the weather warms up.
This is for general information purposes only. Your use or reliance on any of the information in this Blog is solely at your own risk. Under no circumstance will we have any liability for any loss or damage of any kind incurred as a result of the use of any of the information provided.
Options and features mentioned subject to change. Please confirm availability of all accessories and equipment with an authorized Boston Whaler Dealer.