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Did you clean your boat at the end of last season?

Trout plants continue at Collins Lake; bass are biting at Oroville, Folsom
By: George deVilbiss/Special to Gold Country News Service
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Did you really get down and clean your boat before the winter storms dropped in on us? Many anglers don’t do that thorough cleaning, thinking there’s still one more trip in the forecast.

Besides the annual tune-up, there’s a great deal more attention watercraft needs to look its best.

I’m amazed at the number of anglers who just don’t seem to care what their boat looks like, so long as it continues to float. Come on, people. That boat is a sizeable dollar investment. Keep it looking good:

· Grit, sand, pieces of fishing line and melted plastic worms can clog the carpeting, making it unsightly and reducing its life. Rub a wire grill brush across the carpet to loosen ground-in material and then vacuum thoroughly or flush it with water. Just make sure the drain plug isn’t in.

· Run the livewell. Slime and leftovers such as fish scales will remain in the wells. Remove the screen from the bottom of the livewell and the screen off the back of the boat. Flush both screens. Then, run water in both directions through the system to flush and back-flush it, and let it thoroughly drain.

· While it’s important to look over your props before launching and again after you re-trailer, now is the perfect time to pull the props and check for fishing line and weeds caught on the shaft under the prop, which can cut seals and lead to leaks.

· If the prop is dinged, have it repaired or buy a new one. You want that prop to be perfectly balanced. A dinged-up prop means your motor won’t run true, and excessive vibration from such a prop can blow your motor.

· Lead acid batteries require a constant state of charge. Routinely check the battery’s fluid levels, adding distilled water only. Keep them at full charge, even throughout the winter, when the boat isn’t in use.

· Make sure the drain plug is removed for the winter so the below-deck area of your boat can breathe. Even though you may have run your bilge pump in the boat’s hold, a little water is always left behind. Without the drain plug removed, there is no way the remaining water can vent, especially with the engine compartment closed and the boat cover keeping the moisture from evaporating. You can find corrosion on motor parts and even on metal such as gauges and other electrical equipment if the area isn’t adequately ventilated. Even if your boat is indoors when it’s not in use, there is still natural humidity in the air. Humidity is moisture.

· If you don’t take out your batteries, make sure the connections stay tight. Tighten the nuts on the terminals. Spray the connections with WD-40 to prevent corrosion. The same applies for your trolling motor plug. They tend, over a season of use, to accumulate a gooey build-up in the connection. Spray both ends of the trolling motor plug with WD-40.

Current fishing
Offshore salmon:
Everybody is chomping at the bit to get out, private boaters and big party boats. Mother Nature just isn’t cooperating. Rough seas have kept everybody but the foolhardy in ports. Hang in there. With upcoming forecasts, it appears the seas might be more amenable by this weekend.

Bay Area: Those who drag the big nets are out searching for anchovy. If they find some good schools, live bait soon will be available at the receivers in Berkeley and party boats that go for halibut and stripers will gear up. Early indications in the bay point to a dynamite season. All they need is good live bait.

Collins Lake: This fairly small lake a few miles behind Marysville is extremely popular this time of year. Collins is full and spilling, as are many lakes, and water clarity leaves much to be desired. Weekly trout plants will continue until late May. Shore dunking has been good mainly with full stringers. The lower end of the lake – the dam and open camp – is always a good area to set up your chair at water’s edge. Trollers aren’t necessarily limiting, but a flasher in front of a threaded night crawler has been working with an occasional trout hitting seven pounds.

Lake Oroville: The lake is at 80 percent of capacity. A lot of water is coming “down the hill” so there’s considerable debris. If you boat, go slow and keep your eyes peeled. With the warming weather, bass are turning on to a good bite and the spotted bass are already on the spawning beds. There’s a good population of coho salmon, and the bite has been good in the Middle Fork. Get your rig down 20 feet and you’ll score.

Folsom Lake: With creeks, streams and rivers rising rapidly with early snowmelt, lakes are rising, too, including Folsom. Bass are following the ever-changing shallows for food and warmer water for making their nests. You can find a bite in shallow and deeper water off rocky points.

Sierra lakes: Lakes such as Boca are ice-free. While boating may not be an option yet, shore dunkers are doing well at both ends – the inlet at the upper end and the dam area at the lower end. Soak a crawler, eggs or Power Bait. A lake such as Caples still has three feet of ice so ice fishing is going strong. The spring bite is really turning on at Lake Almanor for trollers. The east shore region is always a good bet right now. Stay in the top 20 feet. Haul a crawler behind a dodger or small Rapala. Stumpy Meadows is popular this time of year, but it’s going to take warm weather. The lake still is snowed in. That means Hell Hole Reservoir and French Meadows Reservoir are unreachable, too.

Contact George deVilbiss at GeorgesColumn@aol.com.