Boat Winterization in South Texas?

This article was written by Cody Ryan Greaney, host of the Outdoor Radio Show. Cody is also a pro bass angler & fishing guide

Each year I start seeing articles, videos, tips, and tricks for boat winterization for the “off-season.” I use quotation marks because, being a life-long Texan, I am not familiar with an “off-season.” If there is ever a time I take a break from being on the water, it is usually around the heat of the summer. I understand this is about as backward, upside down, and twisted as it gets compared to most people across the country. Oh, and I fish bass tournaments, so that probably explains my oddity.

Regardless, I have never winterized a boat, but there are a few things during the colder, potentially freezing months that I add to my routine when I use the boat.

It Still Gets Cold in Warmer Climates

If you live in these warmer climates, but it still gets cold, and your boat gets used regularly over the winter, something to remember is oil moves slower, rubber gets harder, and metal becomes brittle. Now understand, I am not a scientist nor a mechanic, and I’m not going to be the guy to ask about the definition of oil viscosity (I had to look it up), but an old sage once relayed that information to me.

In short, all that means is to let things warm up. Be patient when you put your boat in the water on that brisk November morning and know the fish are biting. Take a few extra minutes to let your engine warm-up and allow your boat to acclimate to the water before laying the “hammer down” to that first fishin’ hole. This care could save you lots of issues in the long run.

Battery Care in Colder Weather

Another thing I am certainly more prudent about during the winter is keeping my batteries charged, and the boat plugged in. On my boat, I have an onboard charging system that is hooked to four (4) of my batteries.

My boat has a 36v trolling motor system and a large cranking battery that also runs my electronics. I understand that many boats don’t have that many batteries, but battery issues can cut a day short or even prevent the day from happening. A bad battery can do more than just not work. It can cause all kinds of weird electrical issues, leaving you to believe “Gremlins” are living in your boat.

If you experience any electrical issues, first check your voltage and then be sure to run a “load test” before ruling out the battery being the cause. Ultimately, if both tests pass, you can assume Gremlins live in your boat.

To help prevent this, first, with lead acid batteries, keep the water level full. Yes, some batteries require distilled water. My personal experience has been best when I keep those batteries on a maintainer and/or charger to keep them warm and keep them from freezing, expanding, or whatever else can happen in those tiny power plants.

You Must Rid Your Boat of Water

The last and potentially the most important task I recommend for those who use the boat during the winter months is to rid the boat of water after each use. This will save you from some of the most costly repairs a boater may need: engine repairs.

For many reasons, you should remove water from your boat and engine in all weather conditions, but especially during freezing temperatures. If you have live wells or drain systems, water in these areas can freeze and break all sorts of hard-to-reach items. And “hard to reach” equals “expensive” 99% of the time.

More than the internals of the boat is the motor itself. It’s easier to remember to pull the plug than to drain the engine. After pulling the boat from the water, completely lower the motor and let all of the water in the lower unit drain. Then raise the motor slowly, periodically stopping it, and let all water out.

Not Really Boat Winterization, But Winter Care

On a cool, beautiful morning, it would be terrible to drop the boat in the water, crank it up, anticipate catching giant fish to post pictures of on Instagram— only to throw the boat in drive, and it doesn’t go anywhere because your lower unit is shattered internally. Thankfully, I have never experienced this personally, but it happens.

I understand these are not the only items you need to pay attention to if you are one of the weird few that uses their boat throughout the winter months. But, this article outlines a few key lessons that have become a habit of mine.

When you’ve done your boat winterization and are cuddled next to a fire pit or chasing deer throughout the woods, the solace on the lake at this time of year can be unforgettable. To log in those memories as dream trips and keep them from becoming nightmares, you must keep in mind a few extra steps. Fish On!

About the Author

This article was written by Cody Ryan Greaney, a Texas State University graduate. In college, he was the live personality for a local radio station giving local news and weather reports daily. After graduation, Cody Ryan went to fulfilling his passion by hitting the bass fishing circuits and guiding hunts. With knowledge in the marketing industry and a passion for the professional angling world, Cody Ryan has promoted sponsors through fishing tournaments, outreach programs, and large events.

Cody Ryan currently hosts the #1 Outdoor Radio Show in Texas with his father, TJ. When he is not on air, Cody Ryan is chasing bass in various tournaments across the lower US. Cody Ryan is one of two organizers of the Dell Children’s Medical Center Fishing Event, named the leading event the hospital has put on for young patients. In conjunction with the multiple youth events he participates in, Cody Ryan was awarded the Pass It on Award in 2013.

Cody Ryan has been guiding bass fishing trips and hunting trips across the state for more than 12 years. His passion for the outdoors is evident. He’s not afraid to thank the Lord each day for allowing him to live the life he leads.

Cody is married to the love of his life, Nicole, and together have a daughter, Saylor.

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