By Billy “Hawkeye” Decoteau
Sunny skies with warmer temperatures in February have a seductive way of enticing bass anglers to venture out onto open water after long winter hibernations seem to freeze our enthusiasm with memories of leaping lunkers that got away. (At least in my dreams!!!) “Avid anglers in the northeast portion of the United States are always anxious to get in that first cast, land that first bass and kick start their new season with the first sign of ice-out,” suggest FLW Professional Bass Angler Pete Gluszek. (www.FLWOutdoors.com)
However, this Mount Laurel, New Jersey native has some very important advise every serious bass angler needs to adhere to before pursuing bass under cold-water conditions. “What many anglers seem to forget as the air temperatures in February into March consistently grow warmer, is that the water temperatures will usually range from 30 degrees to 40 degrees.” Gluszek says he has logged days when the air temperatures reached almost 70 degrees yet the water temperatures were 30 degrees cooler.
Before Pete Gluszek starts up his Ranger Z-20 NASCAR Series Comanche’ Evinrude E-Tec outboard on the water, he goes through a pre-season checklist. “I can not stress how important these steps are to eliminating wasted time on the water! I also encourage anglers to utilize their owners manual by following each manufactures instructions.” With most anglers in the northeast winterizing their outboards, covering up their bass rigs and leaving them motionless for three-four months, Gluszek’s checklist is sure to eliminate those pre-season on-the-water headaches. (www.RangerBoats.com, www.Evinrude.com)
“Battery power is obviously of extreme importance, and I highly recommend testing your battery power beyond your charger lights color indicator!” Gluszek actually starts his E-Tec outboard to be sure his batteries strength will turn the outboard motor quickly. A slow cranking motor indicates the need for new batteries and possibly a new on board charger? (Be sure to hook-up your outboard to a water source for this test!!!) “Another often overlooked item with outboards are the trim switches. It’s imperative to check every trim switch, and that includes bow switches, console switches, lever switches as well as the trim switch on the motor itself!”
With his outboard idling at home off the water, Pete checks every electronic connection. “I’ll turn on and off all my pumps including aerators and re-circulators, listening for a humming sound to be sure they are working. Connect my running and anchor lights, then work my way from bow to stern opening every compartment and flipping every switch to be sure no bulbs have burnt out.” Pete will also connect and test his trolling motor. “Lifting your trolling motor in and out of its housing, testing the cables by turning and the lift ropes operating condition is of utmost importance!”
Gluszek warns anglers, “should you come across mice droppings, it is very possible you will have mice nests somewhere on your craft? Usually in the hard to reach areas! If shorts develop or electrical items flicker the mice most likely chewed some of your wiring! Mice like to run along walls so start your search in these areas.” A trip to your boat dealer is highly recommended.
“Once I am satisfied my electrical equipment, including my sonar’s are in proper working order, I pull out the wrenches and sockets.” Beginning with the outboard Gluszek checks and tightens all mounting bolts, then does the same with his trolling motor. “Checking under the deck for the trolling motors mount tightness is actually something I do several times during the year, especially after running in rough conditions on large impoundments.” Gluszek utilizes Loctite as an extra precaution.
“Another item overlooked by most anglers is their trailer. Believe it or not our bass boats spend more time on their trailers than they do on the water! Last year alone I logged over 26,000 miles just hauling my trailer across the country,” claims Gluszek. While rotating 360 degrees around his Ranger Trailer, Gluszek checks and tightens bolts connecting, fenders, fender bunk boards, hull supports, wench mounts, spare tire mounts, etc. “The next item on my check list is the condition of my tires including my spare. This will usually call for proper tire inflations, and a lug nut wrench. Although, I am always checking my wheel hubs for proper fluid levels while traveling during the regular tournament season, my personal checklist calls for taking my Ranger to my dealer for this item.” For Pete Gluszek that means a trip to North Jersey Marine. (www.NorthJerseyMarine.com)
Before attaching his trailer to his tow vehicle, Gluszek inspects his trailers hitch, pin securing device, chains and hooks. “During my entire pre-season inspection, I check for rust, and lubricate every connection or moving part. Once again, turn to your trailers owner manual to aid you in specific areas requiring special attention as well as the proper lubricate to be utilize in each area.” With his trailer checklist almost completed Pete Gluszek moves onto his tow vehicles hitch, receiver and trailer ball. “I continue my checking, tightening or replace of nuts and bolts as needed, lubricate my trailer hitch ball for easy on-off operation, connect my trailer, lubricate my electrical connections with a water proof grease, and then plug in my lights.”
With his trailer lights connected to his tow vehicle, Pete Gluszek makes several trips around his complete rig, checking his turning signals, flashers, brake lights, running lights, back-up lights, his license plate lights, and most importantly up-to-date stickers! “My check list calls for having spare bulbs in my boat/trucks glove box, my new updated registration papers, as well as copies of my boats insurance policy.”
“The final items on my pre-season checklist consist of all the Coast Guard requirements for life-safety such as; a working fire extinguisher, anchor, anchor rope, life jackets and a throwable floatation device Type IV PDF.” With a chuckle in voice Pete Gluszek replied, “With all of the required Coast Guard items sitting on my boats deck, waiting to be stowed, I check-off the final item on my pre-season Boat check list………..I plug in my Rangers drag plug!” Pete Gluszek’s next pre-season check list involves his tackle.
God Bless and Best Bass’n