Thankful Outdoors: How to get Ready for Opening Day of Wisconsin Fishing

wisconsin opening fishing boat
Scott's Boat

Wisconsin Fishing Opener Preparation Guide

We are under 30 days from the Wisconsin fishing season opening day. I have been busy getting things ready for turkey season, horn hunting. I looked at my boat and said, “better start getting this ready for the season!”

Owning a boat can be both rewarding and frustrating. There are two sayings I have heard from boat owners, and you may find yourself saying one of these at some point in your ownership. The first one is, “The two happiest days in a boat owner’s life are the day they bought it and the day they sold it!” And the other is “BOAT, which is the acronym for Break Out Another Thousand.”

Let’s review a few things so that you can avoid using either of those sayings for the upcoming season. Starting your boat prep now gives you time to address any problems and make sure that on May 1st, 2021, you will be on the water and in your favorite opening day spot.

  1. INSPECTION – GET THAT TRAILER IN SHAPE

Start with inspecting the trailer; the trailer is often overlooked in the thought of prepping for the season. Check those tires, see how the treads look, how does your spare look? Speaking of spare, do you have the tools in your tow vehicle to be able to change a spare should you have a mishap on the road? The lug nuts on your trailer may not be the same size as your tow vehicle; they have the appropriate size lug nut wrench available.

TIP: I like to throw a compact bottle jack in my truck to lift the trailer in need of changing out a blown tire. Easier than trying to use the jack from your tow vehicle. 

Inspect the air pressure in all tires; if low inflate to the proper level, I run my PSI on the trailer to the max level indicated on the tire’s sidewall. Not running tires at the correct PSI is the leading cause of blown-out tires.

Do your bearings need to be greased? Today’s trailers usually are designed with an accessible nipple or zerk fitting to easily attach your grease gun to and give it a few squirts. Give the tire a good shake, though, to see if the bearing may need replacement.

Something that is often overlooked in inspection is the winch strap. If that is frayed or worn out, it’s easier to replace it now than to have it snap while loading your boat at the landing. Not only will you appreciate avoiding that problem while in your driveway, your fellow boaters will enjoy not having to wait on you to repair your winch strap and create a backup at the boat landing.

The last big thing to review on the trailer are the lights; the lights can be the most frustrating part of pulling a boat. Check your lens covers, the bulbs to make sure they are not burned out. If you are the old-style twist bulbs, and you find that you need to replace them, I would suggest upgrading the whole light to the new LED-style lamps. They are so much brighter and more reliable than the traditional style lights.

  1. Motor and battery check

Check your battery connections for any corrosion and clean them. Vinegar and baking soda make a suitable cleaning agent. They do make over-the-counter cleaners as well.

Take a peek at your stickers to see that your boat registration is not expired.

If your boat has a trolling motor, pull the prop off to ensure that it is free of any debris picked up from last season. Often you will find fishing line that was picked up. Remove the line and grease the shaft.

On the main motor, you will want to do the same, pull the prop off and remove any line and grease shaft. Inspect all hoses for cracks and loose connections. Add fresh fuel, install a motor flusher to a water hose and fire up your main motor.

Run a test on all your components to see that they are functional:

  • Locators on your boat, install and test them to see that they power on.
  • Does the pump to your livewell work? Run a test to see that this is functional.
  • Test the bilge pump to see that it is working as well.
  • Navigational Lights – make sure that your bow and stern lights are functional
boat prop
Boat Prop

How does your prop look on the main motor? If you have dings or nicks in the prop, either pull it and send it to a repair shop or order a new prop for your boat.

The last item is making sure that you have your boat plug on the boat; I recommend having a spare if the original is lost; nothing will ruin an outing faster than when you get to the boat landing and realize you don’t have the boat plug with you.

TIP: Add Seafoam to your gas tank. I do this on every fill-up, and it helps prevent and fuel issues throughout the season.

  1. SAFETY CHECK

How do your life jackets look? Replace any that are worn or don’t fit anymore. Is your fire extinguisher in good shape? Do you have your tie rope in good condition, Are your boat bumpers in the boat for docking?

Now is the time to run through these items to have an enjoyable first outing and many outings this year. Use this checklist and tips to avoid the dreaded two boat owner sayings referenced at the beginning of the article. Tight lines to you for your opening day!

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Scott Hopperdietzel
Author: Scott Hopperdietzel

Scott Hopperdietzel is the creator of an outdoor blog named Thankful Outdoors. He shares his passion for the outdoors with readers. The focus of the blog is to “Celebrate the Experience” in his stories; you feel what the connection to the outdoors means to him. His goal is to inspire others to get into the outdoors and create their own experience. Along with writing, he is a father to three boys who are often part of the adventures along with the family Weimaraner, Boone. You can find his writings on the website www.thankfuloutdoors.com or follow his social media platforms on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.