3 Easy Steps for Midseason Fishing Boat Maintenance

3 Easy Steps for Midseason Fishing Boat Maintenance

August 15, 2022

Boat maintenance is crucial, so especially when we get to the halfway point of the season — when we’ve put some hours in and we’re ready to put more time in, too — it's an important time to check over some parts of the boat that should not be overlooked.

Read the article below or check out this video full of tips from Pro Angler Jeff Gustafson.

Transom to Trolling Motor Fishing Boat Maintenance Tips

We all have buddies who don't do anything to their rigs — boats, motors, maintenance, anything like that. And it's all good…until stuff breaks. So when you’re halfway through the season, it’s a good time to tighten some bolts if we need to, clean stuff up, and just kinda make sure everything is good to go to get us through the second half of the season.

Fishing Boat Maintenance - Start with your propStart with Your Prop

When it comes to boat maintenance, I start here, back at the prop. I'm actually going to switch the prop out for the next event that I'm fishing, so I’m going to do a little more than just making sure the prop is tight. Either way, it's a good idea to check in behind here every once in a while just to make sure there's no fishing line or stuff in there that can damage the seals.

For an easier time switching out the prop, the Prop Master Prop Stop and the Prop Master Propeller Wrench never leave my boat — they stay in there all year round. So instead of carrying around a piece of wood that rots or can be awkward to work with, this is light and I can easily fit it in a compartment in the back of the boat. It makes taking the prop off pretty slick and easy.

To use the Prop Stop, you just follow these steps:

  1. Slide your prop stop onto the anti-ventilation plate on your outboard (the horizontal plate right above your prop)

  2. Put the Prop Stop on the starboard side of the motor when you're removing a prop and need to loosen it. Put it on the port side when you're putting a prop on and tightening it.

  3. With the Propeller Wrench in one hand, use your free hand to turn the prop so that one of the blades presses up against the underside of the Prop Stop.

    Prop Tip: put your Propeller Wrench on your outboard motor's propeller nut so that the shaft of the propeller wrench is at about 9 o'clock (or 3 o'clock if you're tightening it). This helps give you good positioning and the ability to push down and use gravity rather than push up and fight gravity.

  4. With your hands on the prop wrench and the blade of the prop pressed against the underside of the Prop Stop, you can then torque the outboard prop nut loose until the nut is off the threads and the prop can be pulled off.

    Pro Tip: Especially for anyone who can admit that they aren't as mechanical, when you remove the nuts and washers from your outboard prop, keep them in the same order that they need to be in to go back on in the same way.

Additionally, if you take the prop off, it's always good to check the prop shaft every once in a while to make sure there's no fishing line or other stuff on there that can damage your seals. Just be sure to put your new prop on and put the fasteners on in the correct order, then use your Prop Stop and Prop wrench to tighten the prop.

Aside from mid-season maintenance, you may also want to follow this same process to switch out your prop for different lake conditions. For example, if you’re going from smaller lakes or rivers where you’ve been using a larger 3-blade prop, you may want to go to a smaller 4-blade prop. For me, this is going to be particularly important when going to Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, where I’m going to need more lift instead of speed. Better lift is always better when you're going to rough water and you will need to keep the bow up better and give you a better hole shot.

Check Your Transom, Jack Plate, and Anchoring

The next thing I do is make sure all bolts are tight at the back of the boat. The most important ones are between your transom and the jack plate, but it also includes everything I have secured onto the transom. Over time, they can loosen a bit, so you want to make sure they stay nice and tight.

Here are some places to check with a couple of socket wrenches and the various sizes of sockets that you need.

  • Jack Plate Bolts
  • Outboard Mount Bolts
  • Shallow Water Anchor Bolts

I also do a bit of jack plate maintenance, but thankfully these Atlas Jack Plates really are pretty maintenance free. If you do anything with them, it’s recommended that you clean the black rods with a little dish soap and water with a soft towel. This helps keep them sliding and prevents any buildup from happening.

Inside the Boat Maintenance

Next, hop inside your boat and check a few spots there for mid-season maintenance, like loose screws in various spots.

Loose Screws: Over time you're going to get screws that loosen up and fly off in the boat. One of the tricks that I like to do, something I learned from one of the guys in the service trailers at tournaments, is to get a piece of a zip tie, then cut it in half (length-wise) so it's a little bit thinner. Then with any screw that's loosened off a bit, like one that I had coming loose on the floor, remove that screw and jam the zip tie into the hole where the screw goes. Then put the screw back into the hole that's now a little tighter with that zip tie tapering into there. When you have it nice and secure, take your snips and trim the excess zip tie at the head of the screw.

This will help keep it locked in longer and give it more of a physical hold (as opposed to using a liquid fastening solution that can be messy and provide less of a hold in certain circumstances, especially outdoor and marine environments).

Batteries and Electrical Connections: Also check around the batteries. Make sure the trays are mounted nice and tight, especially the tray fasteners themselves. Make sure straps are tight as those can loosen off a bit and then make sure all your connections are good and tight.

You don't want anything loose back here; keep everything with those electronics working properly and make sure you don't have any issues.

Maintenance at the Bow

Finish things off at the front of the boat. Make sure all the bolts are tight: check your trolling motor, electronics mounts because you never want a graph to fly off in rough water. There are a lot of screws and stuff up at the bow. That extra security with fasteners, mounts, and gear will be your friend.

Finally, up at the front, with the trolling motor, you should check your factory trolling motor handle and cable to make sure it’s not wearing out and check your trolling motor prop. Make sure to routinely check your trolling motor prop every once in a while to make sure there's no debris like fishing line or grass that gets inside the prop and can cause mechanical inefficiency or damage the seal. If you have the G-Force Eliminator Prop Nut, you can pull that prop off really quickly and easily.

Prop Tip: When removing your prop nut, get the prop horizontal and then you'll be less likely to lose the little pin. If you're doing this over the water you want to be extra careful since that pin can come out.

In a few weeks, it's a good idea to check that again, or really whenever you suspect you may have stuff stuck in there. That's one of the nicest things about the prop nut — it makes pulling that on and off really easy. It also makes the trolling motor quieter.

Learn More. Fish More.

With that, your boat's good to go for another few tournaments at least and it won't let you down. It’s always good to add more knowledge, tools, and experience, too. Then everything else seems to get a little bit easier and you can spend more time enjoying the water and maybe even bringing in some tournament wins!