Well-winterized equipment won't balk next spring

November 15, 1992|By Gary Diamond | Gary Diamond,Contributing Writer

Before the arrival of cold weather, Harford County anglers scored well while fishing for Susquehanna stripers between Conowingo Dam and Lapidum Landing. Unfortunately, on Nov. 7, Maryland's striped bass fishing season came to a screeching halt.

Department of Natural Resources Director of Fisheries W. Peter Jensen said, "If the season would have remained open just one additional weekend, recreational fishermen would have exceeded their quota by more than 120,000 pounds." He decided to close the fishery based on projected catch data obtained during the season's first 30-day segment, figures some anglers contend are inflated.

Although a few hearty souls were somewhat disturbed about the untimely closure, the vast majority of upper-bay anglers already had quit fishing for the season, opting to spend their spare time hunting deer, upland game or waterfowl.

For some, the transition from fishing to hunting is a well-planned, orderly event. All fishing tackle and electronic equipment is taken off the boat and stored in a warm, dry place.

Old line is removed from reels, moving parts are cleaned and lubricated, rods are washed and waxed, and everything in the tackle box is removed, cleaned and placed in its own compartment. Next, the boat is washed down, waxed and winterized. At best, the entire process takes one or two days.

Until recently, an old fishing partner of mine had a substantially different attitude toward winterizing his boat and fishing tackle. At the conclusion of the season, he parked his boat in the yard, tossed his fishing rods in a corner of the garage and left everything else on the boat so it would be handy when the weather became warm enough to go fishing.

Old Bill really loved fishing. He would begin the season in mid-March, shortly after Deer Creek was stocked with trout. By early April, he was launching his 14-foot aluminum boat at Susquehanna State Park, fishing the river for white perch and smallmouth bass. Bill figured there was no such thing as a bad fishing trip -- some were just better than others.

I first met Bill at Lapidum Landing launch ramp on the lower Susquehanna River. He was trying desperately to start his outboard motor by pulling on the starter cord and calling it names usually only found in R-rated movies. The engine didn't respond to his efforts, and to make matters worse, less than 100 yards away, fishermen were catching 10- to 12-inch white perch two at a time.

When I inquired about his problem, he replied: "I don't know what the heck's wrong with this thing. It ran good when I was fishing for hybrids at Conowingo Lake last December. I guess I need a new motor. Danged outboards just don't hold up like they used to."

Bill wasn't the only person whose outboard failed to start that day. Several anglers launched their boats, cranked their starters until the battery died, then reluctantly loaded their boats back on their trailers and drove home. Most marine engine failures usually can be traced directly to owner neglect -- not defective parts or poor manufacturing techniques.

Regardless of whether your boat's powered with an outboard, inboard/outboard or inboard engine, it must be winterized before the first hard freeze. Here in Harford County, this could be as early as the first week in November and always by mid-December.

Marine engines that are not winterized are subjected to the possibility of stuck pistons, cracked gear cases and excessive corrosion.

Winterizing isn't difficult, can be performed with the aid of a few hand tools and in most instances, the cost of materials is less than $20. However, if you're one of those individuals that has trouble changing a light bulb, take your boat to the nearest marine dealer and have the work performed by professionals.

Thirty years ago, marine engines were protected from corrosion by squirting 30-weight motor oil into the spark plug holes and turning the engine over a few times. Although the process was better than doing nothing, it provided only marginal protection. Fogging oil, a sticky substance available at most marine stores, provides total engine protection throughout the entire winter.

To fog the engine, it must be running at normal temperatures. This is accomplished by attaching a garden hose to the lower unit of your I/O or outboard, turning on the water and starting the engine, making sure water is circulating through the cooling system.

Remove the air cleaners and flame arresters from carburetors and rev the engine to approximately 1,200 rpm. When the engine reaches normal operating temperature, spray the fogging oil in each carburetor until dense, white smoke is emitted from the exhaust, then switch off the ignition key.

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