It seems like every year these winters are longer and longer. Making the most of them is important for us outdoorsmen. The late winter season is one of the toughest to get out but can be the most productive by putting time in on maintenance. Taking advantage of oppurtunities now will lead to more productive time in the year ahead. Whether you prefer to hunt or fish making sure all equipment is working properly goes a long way.
Many fisherman put their larger boats away for storage in the winter. If you have the means such as a heated garage or a shop to pull your boat into, you can make those small repairs that have been bothering you since mid season last year. The most important is your outboard. Removing the cover to check for any evidence of leaks from oil or gas lines. Replacing spark plugs and checking over all electrical systems for wear and broken wiring. Changing the oil in your lower end is very important to make those parts last as long as possible. Just because your motor may still be running doesn't mean it's at optimal efficiency.
Go through from stem to stern. Start with that motor and work your way forward. Check out the engine box and make sure everything is clean. Get rid of any oil that may have missed the hole when filling your reservoir. Go through all the wiring checking for wear or any broken wires that could short out. If you have a battery tester remove all wiring from your batteries and check what their output is when fully charged. If your boat has livewells check all the lines and pumps for leaks and operation. Last, but not least, check your bilge pump. This may be the only thing between you and a long swim if the hull of your is punctured. If you fish no matter what the conditions like me, rain water can also build up if your bilge doesn't work. That can drastically effect your boats performance while running your outboard.
Working forward check again all wiring and electrical on the console. Make sure your horn works especially on larger boats which are required to have them by law. Check all gauges for function mainly water pressure. Always be sure your outboard has water pressure. That and no oil are probably your shortest trip to shopping for a new motor. Go all the way to the front and check your trolling motor if you have one. Remove the prop from it and get rid of any weeds or line that are built up on the shaft. They create restriction and shorten battery life while in use.
In short maintenance of any of your equipment makes for more enjoyment during the warmer seasons. So quit watching others on the outdoor channel and get out and take care of that which takes care of you in the field. It'll help make this month go a lot faster and we'll be enjoying the water and woods that much sooner.