There are always those horror stories we hear about people having motor issues at the blast off of a tournament, or electrical issues shutting down electronics – and more devastatingly the pumps for their live wells. But with the normal wear and tear boats take just by being on the water, many of these issues are just problems waiting to happen. So as I’m still more than two months out from the Florida BASS Nation State Championship, I am checking and rechecking all of the components within the boat. I use a simple checklist to ensure all things are working properly.
- Batteries: With today’s boats and all the electronics running them, the batteries are the heart of everything. So I ensure they’re being charged properly and if there’s an issue, now is the time to address it. The last thing I want to do is have to worry about anything but how big is the next bite going to be. I use a voltmeter to check the standing voltage on my batteries with my NOCO on board charger unplugged. Then I check them all with the charger plugged in. This tells me how well the charger is working and if there’s an issue with it. If I find an issue with the charger, then it’s time to schedule a warranty appointment with my dealer, Aqua Tech Marine, Inc.
- Graphs: Ensure the make and model of your graphs are using the proper transducer for what you are trying to accomplish and all components are working properly. For last year’s State Championship on Lake Seminole, I had to buy a Navionics Chip in order to have detailed contour lines to follow, the organic chart information just didn’t cut it. Also make sure you’re checking for the periodic updates and update your graphs as necessary.
- Cooling System: There are a lot of overlooked parts on the boat. The cooling system is one of them. Ensure you have replaced your impeller about once a year, or every 100 hours. This will go a long way to ensure you will be getting the required water pressure to keep your engine from overheating. The next part of the cooling system that’s very much overlooks are the thermostats. Ensure they’re clean and free of debris. See your user manuals to find out where your thermostats are on the model of outboard you have.
- Lower Unit: When was the last time you changed your lower unit oil? Usually once a year during the annual maintenance will suffice. For me, the water has been very low all year. Lots of shallow take offs, and a couple of dings off the bottom are definitely not in the best of things to do to your lower unit category. If you’ve been running shallow like we have down here in Florida this year, go ahead and change your lower unit fluid, check the seals, and check to see if you have any metal shavings indicating a bigger problem. It’s much better to find this out now than it would be a week before the tournament.
- Steering: The hydraulic steering is easy to check. See if there is any play in the wheel when you get your motor turned all the way in either direction. The amount of play could indicate a larger issue. If it doesn’t seem right, have a certified mechanic check it out.
- Trim: Checking your trim is pretty simple. Just raise and lower you motor and see if there is any delay in lifting or dropping it. Also listen to the trim motor, if it sounds odd consult your mechanic.
- Jack Plate: If you have a hydraulic jack plate, test it out the same way you did your trim. It’s pretty easy and if there’s an issue, there will be a noticeable different. Issues can vary, so look for anything that just doesn’t seem right. Whether you have a hydraulic plate or a standard plate, the main bolts can loosen themselves from time to time. Take a torque wrench and double check to see if your bolts are torqued to the manufacturer’s specifications.
- Prop: This little metal piece is asked to do a heck of a lot when it comes to our boats. Ensure it’s clean from major nicks and dings. Then be sure to check your hub. I have a propeller out for a hub repair right now (Yamaha Props need professional installation).
- Live Wells: If you’ve been following our website you probably remember my article entitled, “Fish Care, It Can Cost You“. I wrote that after not taking fish care as seriously as I needed and missed a BASS Nation check. Since then, fish care is at the top of my list. It starts with a clean live well. On the water on a day of practice and/or fun fishing bring a dish scrubbing sponge and some Dawn Dish Soap. Dawn won’t kill the fish, even if you don’t get all of it out, but it will clean your live wells enough so you could literally eat out of them. Clean and scrub out the entire system. I do this by getting a little water in the live well, a few drops of Dawn and spend the day with all my pumps running the soapy water through the hoses. At the end of the day I will take the dish sponge and ensure all the caked up nastiness left behind from your last load of fish are completely cleaned out. Then make sure your pumps are all in working order, and boom. You’re ready to store that State Championship winning bag in there on tournament day.
- Trolling Motor: Ensure your trolling motor mounting bolts are tight and there is no play in it. A loose trolling motor will not only damage the trolling motor itself, but the fiberglass it’s mounted to. Then check the plug for any oxidation. If it’s corroded, it may be a good plan to replace the plug. I ensure my Weed Chopper Trolling Motor Helper is properly secured, clean, and operates smoothly. Then I ensure my Weed Blocker is securely fastened and not coming loose. Then the forward transducer is inspected and tightened as necessary. All chords for the transducer are taped down with electrical tape and the tape is replaced as necessary. Then finally I take off the trolling motor prop. I ensure it is clean and free of debris around the shaft, and if there are any major nicks or dings in it I use a file to sharpen the leading edge (Works wonders in grass!) .
Those are my major inspection items that I start checking out right now. I want to ensure if there are any major repairs that need to be done, I am doing them now instead of adding stress to the time leading up to the tournament. Comment below if you’re thinking I overlooked anything. Keep in mind, I did not mention the trailer once, nor any of my rods or reels. Those inspections are coming in another edition of, You’re In My Prep Time!
– S/F – Chaz