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Pulling his oars out of the water

It was a beautiful autumn day.

The trees were donning their gold and red attire. The lake was calm, but there was sometime wrong with the peaceful picture, because the Barbie J was on her trailer and sitting in our driveway. The scene pretty much signaled that my fishing season was over for another year, and I just was not ready to give it up.

Of course I could still do some fishing from my dock and there are other lakes around Morning Journal country, but I was looking forward to more time spent fishing this lake from my own boat. The lake is scheduled to be lowered beginning Oct. 18, and that left me a little time to pitch a few jigs for panfish, or maybe catch a couple big channel catfish. I might give it a try even though for some reason not many fish seem to be hanging around my dock this year.

Having a fishing pontoon boat at my dock has many advantages; perhaps the best is that I can walk to the boat, fire up the outboard and go fishing without hauling the boat on her trailer. The disadvantage comes at the end of each fishing season as I drive the boat to the ramp to put her on the trailer. I am not good at this, but I usually have a friend or two to keep me from messing up too much.

Once my pride and joy is safe in our driveway Barb and I begin the chores needed to insure that the Barbie J weathers the winter well and is ready to launch in the spring. While this sounds like work, taking care of our investment is really a labor of love. Even when we are tired we can remember sunset cruises around the lake and those special mornings when the fish are biting and those memories rejuvenate us. But there is still some work that needs done, and here is how we do ours.

Of course Barb insists on a clean boat before we put it away for the winter. The Barbie J is a pontoon boat and during the summer the aluminum pontoons tend to pick up what can only be described as crud. If left unattended this mess would be hard as clay by spring so we set to work with a garden sprayer and a pressure washer.

The only way we have found to clean the pontoons completely is a product called Toon-Brite, and that is when the garden sprayer is used. Toon-Brite comes in spray bottle and that was the way we first used it, but it took forever to clean the pontoons with the little spray bottle. By mixing the Toon-Brite in the sprayer we could clean in a hurry. We washed the Toon-Brite off using our pressure washer and the pontoons came out clean and bright.

The final step to prepare our boat for winter is to winterize the outboard, and unless you are familiar with this step my advice is to call an expert. In the past I have often done this myself, but it can be a messy process. This year our good friend Mark Moore handled the job, and all the mess Actually as we grow older we realize just how much of an asset friends are.

Many boat owners have their boats shrink wrapped, but we have built a frame that holds up a big tarp to protect Barbie J for another year.

How boaters treat their boats is a personal thing, but this is how we do it, and the Barbie J is 17 years old and still looks good. Now I just need to be patient and hope for an early spring and patience is not my strong suit.

I guess I’ll just have to pass the time by preparing my tackle for next year. At least we have a few fish in our freezer so we will enjoy some of nature’s bounty on our table.

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