Boating Checklist For Spring Smallmouth Fishing

Boat checklist

For those of us that live in areas where winter weather puts a halt to our favorite pastime, fishing for smallmouth bass, it is now time to start preparing for a new fishing season. One of the main concerns of any angler is to have their boat ready to go fishing when ice-out occurs. With this goal in mind, we are going to create and talk about a boat checklist you can go through to ensure your boat is ready to fish when you are.

Boating Checklist For Spring Smallmouth Fishing

There are different ways to make a boat checklist, and different ways of going through your checklist. For instance, some anglers may start checking their safety equipment; others may start with their motor. It does not matter what order you do your boat checklist, what does matter is that everything is checked and ready before you hit the water for the first day of smallmouth bass fishing, or any type of fishing. The checklist I provide can be changed around and completed in any order you prefer.

Checking Safety Equipment

I believe in safety first, therefore, I always start my spring boat checklist by ensuring that all of the safety equipment I need is on board, and in working condition. The first item on the checklist of safety equipment should be personal flotation devices (PFD). Make sure that you have enough vests for everyone that will be on your boat, ensure that all them are  in good working condition, look for any rips or tears. Life vests should be replaced every three years as they lose some of their buoyancy over time. If you have the type that self inflates, it is a good idea to get a replacement cartridge for it.


Make sure that you always have a good flashlight with good batteries on your boat, keep extra clothing on board (especially rain gear), and make sure you have a fully stocked first aid kit, bug spray, and GPS if you are going out on large bodies of water. Drinking water, an operational fire extinguisher, food, fuel, matches in a waterproof container, maps and charts, extra bulbs for running lights, a weather radio, and of utmost importance; make sure that the kill switch to your motor works properly.

Other Boat Checklist items

Now that you are sure that all your safety equipment is ready to go it is now time to check out the boat itself. Some of the items on this list could also be checked while checking the safety equipment. The first thing to check when checking the boat itself is to check the motor. Check the spark plugs, fuel lines, fuel filters, and ensure that the motor starts easily and runs smoothly. If you notice any problems while checking the motor have them repaired before you take the boat onto the water.

Next, check the batteries; ensure that they charge properly and that they hold their charge (this could take several days to check the condition of your batteries properly). Ensure that you have an alternate means of propulsion on your boat; this does not include a trolling motor. If your batteries are dead, and your motor is not running, you need to have paddles, oars, or some other means of getting your boat back to the dock. Check your anchors and anchor lines for wear, anchor lines fray and become weak over time.

Check that your bilge pump is operational; make sure your boat plug still properly seals the drain hole in the rear of the boat. Over time plugs can dry rot or become misshapen and not seal properly, plugs should be replaced occasionally.

Checking the condition of your trailer should also be part of your boat checklist. Make sure that the tires are inflated properly, that all tie-downs are in good condition, check the winch and the winch rope, check trailer lights, and all wiring.

Check Yourself

These things need to be part of a boat checklist that many people forget to check. Ensure that you are in good condition; do not go on the water if you are sick or not feeling well. Being in the middle of a lake is one of the worst places to become ill, especially if you are alone. Make sure that you have all of the proper permits and licenses for yourself, your boat, your trailer, and your vehicle.

Depending on where you live and where you fish, some things could be added to this boat checklist. With that said, this boat checklist is comprehensive for most people that angle for smallmouth bass in most parts of the country.

To summarize

  1. Stem to stern lookover
  2. Safety items – PFD, first aid, water, fire extinguisher, etc
  3. Trailer- rust, tire pressure, latch, winch operational


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