News Release

Winterizing your motors and boats; Pennies now, or dollars in the spring!
By Tim Smalley, MN DNR boating safety specialist

Each fall, after the boating season is over, it’s time to prepare your watercraft for winter storage. For some, putting the boat away consists of turning it over on the beach, putting the motor in the basement and forgetting about them until April 30.

However, taking a few more steps in the fall will reduce some hassles in the spring when you get ready for your first outing. If you have to stop to fix a cranky motor, or hunt for a life vest without a broken zipper, you’ll be cutting into your time on the water.

Here are some tips for winterizing your boat.

Use a fuel stabilizer, especially if your fuel has ethanol. All regular gas in Minnesota has ethanol, as does some premium unless it is labeled as non-oxygenated. Leave a little room (5 percent) in the tank for expansion. Ethanol has an affinity for water and can cause other problems, especially in older motors. A stabilizer helps deal with moisture condensation problems and keeps the gas fresh until spring.

You can bet at some point during the summer, you ran through the shallow end of the lake and dredged up a good percentage of the lake’s bottom sediment plus the usual snips and snails and eelpout tails through the outboard’s water pump. Using an “earmuff” style flushing attachment that hooks up to the garden hose can help make flushing a quick chore. Water pump impeller fins can break off after a few years and may need replacing, too. This isn’t a job for “Mr./Ms. Fumble Fingers” so you if you aren’t sure how to do it, you might want to farm this one out to the professionals.

While you are flushing the motor, it’s a good time to take the cover off and check the plugs, plug wires, and fuel lines and run some engine cleaner through the carb. After this, run the engine with the fuel line disconnected until it stops. This pulls the stabilizer through the system. Inspect the plugs too, but before you put the plugs back in - spray some fogging-oil in each cylinder to help prevent the cylinder walls from rusting. Empty and clean the fuel-filter bowl as well.

Even on new motors, a little water can sneak by the propshaft seal. It then gets into the lower unit and can corrode the gears. And if it’s a lot of water, might cause freeze damage. If the old gear lube oil looks really milky, it’s also a telltale sign of imminent seal failure. More than a few drops of water (leaky shaft seal), a large amount of metal filings or gear teeth (grinding gears) in the oil mean a trip to the shop. Unfortunately, there is no gear-tooth fairy, so it will cost money to repair. Changing gearcase lube can be messy, since you fill it from the lower drain hole. Take out both upper and lower drain screws, let the old stuff drain out in a coffee can and dispose of it properly. Then force the lube into the bottom hole until it runs out the top one. This is a little easier if you use one of the inexpensive lower unit gearcase lube pumps that you can find at a well-stocked marine dealer. Have some kitty litter around to soak up any spills on the garage floor. Please remove the cat first.

This includes the steering, which can loosen up over the summer, and also the trim tab on the bottom of the anti-ventilation plate just above the prop. The trim tab, in combination with the steering friction adjuster (sometimes a screw, sometimes a lever) helps fight a kind of boating accident we are seeing more of every year. Folks let go of the steering tiller or wheel while the boat is moving and it is so loose that the boat cuts a hard right due to “propeller walk” and ejects the operator from the boat. The boat continues around in a circle, running down the person in the water. Thus the name “Circle of Death accident.”

Repair or replace as necessary. You can hammer out minor dings with a rawhide mallet. Bigger ones need professional help. Dents and nicks throw off the prop’s balance which can eventually wear out seals and gears. Also check for fishing line around the prop shaft. Remove it to prevent damage to the shaft and seals. Grease any zerk fittings that need it, and finally, store the motor standing up - no, not you, the motor should be standing all winter. It doesn’t hurt to put a breathable (not plastic) dust cover on them too.

Check your boat oars for serious cracks and replace as necessary. Check aluminum boat hulls for missing rivets, torn seams, obvious leaks, loose seats, torn up transoms, etc.
Check your boat cushions and life vests, and make sure they aren’t torn or otherwise damaged. Also check buckles, zippers and snaps to be sure they are in working order. If they’re damaged, torn or seriously worn, they have to be discarded. You can’t sit down at the sewing machine and stitch old flower-power appliqués over them - state and federal laws forbid patched or repaired PFDs. Most new life jackets are made from closed-cell foam rubber, but if you still have a few of the old orange “Mae West” kapok vests around, squeeze them to make sure they aren’t hardened from water leaks. Note - the kids really love to wear these, especially if they are dirty, greasy and smell like the inside of a minnow bucket. They’ll remember your outings fondly from Dad making them wear “those ugly orange life preservers.” Do yourself a favor, get some of the new attractive vest-style PFDs. They are more comfortable and people are more likely to wear them, which is the whole point of life vests.


News Release

Fishing goes to school:
DNR offers workshops for educators, youth leaders

A hands-on workshop that gives educators tools to get kids outside and introduce them to the life-long activity of fishing is being offered at five locations throughout Minnesota in October.

“The workshops are open to anyone who works with youth including school teachers, scout leaders, home-school teachers, park and rec staff and volunteers,” said Jenifer Matthees, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) MinnAqua program supervisor. “If you want to introduce children to our natural resources and the fun of fishing, these workshops are for you.”

Each workshop explains the mission of MinnAqua, the DNR’s angling education program. Participants also will explore the activities and lesson plans that are part of MinnAqua’s award-winning leader’s guide “Fishing: Get in the Habitat!” and get hands-on demonstrations of fishing equipment.

No fishing experience is needed. Each participant will receive a copy of the leader’s guide and the accompanying CD to use in their education programs.MinnAqua’s angling education program leader’s guide meets statewide academic standards for grades 3-5 and fulfills the fishing requirements for Cub Scout, Girl Scout and 4-H programs.

Workshops are scheduled:
Saturday, Oct. 11, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., Lebanon Hills Visitor Center, Eagan
Monday, Oct. 13, 4:30 - 8 p.m., Minnesota Zoo, Apple Valley
Thursday, Oct. 16, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center, Spicer
Friday, Oct. 17, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., Great Lakes Aquarium, Duluth
Saturday, Oct. 25, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., Deep Portage Conservation Reserve near Hackensack.
Costs for the workshops range between $30 and $40 depending on meals included. Register online at http://mndnr.gov/minnaqua or via e-mail to


A Rodrule in Action!

Measuring fish is just that easy...
when using a Rodrule. This is a great shot of a Rodrule fish ruler decal in action. Though it is upside down in the photo you can plainly see that it is still easy for this fisherman to use. Note how well the white ruled marks stand out on against the fishing rod.
This is also a great example of how easy it is to get a quick measurement of your catch before you release to either the lake or your live well.
This picture is also a great example of just how discrete this measuring decal is. The material used in the production of these measuring rulers is just about crystal clear. The clear adhesive used is designed to hold, even to the curve of your rods.


Minnesota Lake Sturgeon Tags

With spring lake sturgeon season almost here, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds sturgeon anglers to purchase a lake sturgeon tag.

The $5 harvest tags, which can be purchased at any DNR Electronic Licensing System agent, are used to collect information on the statewide lake sturgeon harvest, which runs April 24 to May 7. Anglers who practice catch-and-release do not need a tag.

For further information check link listed below.



Did you Know?

A legislative change effective Aug. 1, 2007 extended the expiration date of 2007 fishing licenses for resident and nonresident anglers through April 30, 2008, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Any stamps or tags to harvest particular species also are valid through April 30, 2008.

Angling licenses, stamps and tags for 2008, which will be effective from March 1 through April 30, 2009, went on sale Feb. 18.

Fishing licenses are required for resident anglers age 16 and older and all nonresidents. Nonresidents younger than 16 may fish without a license if a parent or guardian who is licensed accompanies them.