Should You Winterize A Fishing Boat?

As winter comes around, there is always the thought of what  you should do with your boat. If you live in an area where it gets too cold to take it out on the lake, or the lake is even frozen over making it impossible to get out, people wonder what they should do with their boat. Even if you are going to keep it in a garage, you still need to ask yourself if it is safe to store just the way it is. If you live in a place that does get cold and you still might take it out a couple times through the winter, do you really need to winterize it?

You should always winterize your bass boast no matter where you live. The cold temperatures and snowy weather conditions of the winter can easily damage bass boats. Many inexperienced boat owners will assume that covering their boat is good enough protection for it. What they fail to realize is that covers won?t protect the boat?s internal components from cold temperatures. If there is water still inside the boat, the damage caused by the freezing cold temperatures will be even worse.

Bass boats are costly investments that should be maintained regularly. More importantly, you must prepare your bass boat for the winter season before it strikes. The way in which you winterize your boat will depend on the location where you live. For example, people who live in one of the northern U.S. states won’t have the chance to use their boats at all until the winter season is over. The reason is that the temperatures in this region will generally fall below freezing or at least stay consistently near freezing throughout the duration of the season. Therefore, they should keep their boat stored inside all winter long.

People living in the southern region of the country will experience occasional warm temperatures during the winter. This means that they could potentially take their boats out onto the water on warm days. However, they will not be able to store their boats outside due to the inconsistency of the daily temperatures. One day it could be like summer outside and the next day it could be freezing. That is why no matter where you live, you should never keep your bass boat stored outside on a long-term basis throughout the winter months. If you need to take your boat outside, only do so if you are going to use it on a warm day.

The Risk of Water

Ironically, water is the biggest risk to a bass boat during the winter. This might seem confusing because boats are supposed to belong on the water. But when there are freezing temperatures outside, it causes water to expand. If certain components or critical systems of your boat were to endure the pressure of this expanding cold water, it could cause irreversible damage to them. The pressure of the freezing water would be too much for these components and systems to handle. As a result, you would need to replace them when the summer months come around.

Now if you live in a warmer region which periodically gets freezing temperatures during the winter, you still need to worry about water. Do not forget that water is the number one cause of mold, mildew, and corrosion. If you leave your bass boat outside for several weeks or months without ever using it, do not be surprised if you find corrosive damage to your boating equipment.

winter boat

If you do not mind cleaning your bass boat regularly, you can keep it outside on warmer winter days. Just remember to keep track of the weather reports so that you know what the temperatures are going to be for each week. If the temperatures ever end up getting close to 32?F, it will be time to take the boat inside where it is dry.

The Basics of Winterizing Your Boat

The process of winterizing your boat involves removing items which are susceptible to damage from water and freezing temperatures. In the case of a bass boat, the basic items that you would need to remove are the fishing gear, seating, trolling motors, spark plugs, batteries, electronic equipment, and all other loose tangible items. Store these items in a warm dry indoor location throughout the winter. Not only will this protect the items from damage, it will prevent rodents and insects from nesting in them too. For a full How-To guide on doing this, see our step by step guide HERE.

If you have ethanol fuel in your bass boat, you need to replace it with non-ethanol fuel. When ethanol stays inside of a gas tank for a couple of months during the winter, it gradually drops to the floor of the tank. When the boat gets put back on the water, the ethanol on the bottom of the fuel tank will mix with the water which gets in there. You never want a situation where water and fuel mix together because it will be very bad for the engine. After the winter is over and you try to start your engine, it won?t take long for you to experience engine failure.

For this reason, you need to keep non-ethanol fuel in your fuel tank throughout the winter months. This type of fuel is a bit more expensive per gallon, but it is worth it. Otherwise, if you need to replace your engine because you kept ethanol fuel in the tank, you will be paying thousands of dollars for a new one. Also, for extra protection, apply an additive called ?STA-BIL? to the non-ethanol fuel. This will help preserve the fuel and keep it fresh during the months that you?re not using it.

boat wrapped in cover

Make sure your fuel tank is filled completely with gas. If you do this, there won’t be any room for moisture to creep into the tank. Inspect the connectors, hoses, and bulbs of your fuel system to see if there are any cracks which could cause leaks. If you notice such deterioration on any of them, replace these components immediately before the winter. It may also be a good idea to replace your existing fuel filter as well.

Important Drying Tips

Winterizing a bass boat is mostly about keeping it dry. When you wash your boat before and during the winter, it is critical that you dry it thoroughly afterward. The most critical components that you will want to clean are the hatches, livewells, and bilge pumps.

But if you happen to leave any water remnants behind on them, it could potentially lead to damage. Just to be safe, try adding a little bit of antifreeze to these components after you have cleaned them. That way, if there happens to be any moisture which you missed drying away, the antifreeze will prevent them from freezing. As the warmer temperatures come back and you?re ready to use your boat again, be sure to wash the antifreeze off these components first.

When you take your bass boat on dry land, you will be using a trailer to haul it around. The trailer needs to be kept dry and maintained too. The tires need to have the proper amount of air pressure and all the sockets must be coated with moisture repellent spray to ensure their dryness. If you need to lubricate the wiring harness and connectors, use a little bit of petroleum jelly on them. Keep the trailer parked far away from the water. If you have a cool dry place in your backyard that is fenced off, that is the best place to store it outside. Of course, if you have a garage big enough for storing it, that is even better.


The process of winterizing a bass boat is not hard once you learn the basic steps. The important thing to remember is to remove everything that you can from the bass boat and store them in a warm dry place. Use multiple synthetic poly sheets to cover your boat for added protection and warmth. The synthetic nature of the cover will also deter roaches and other insects from wanting to feed and nest on your boat.

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