One week-end we're talking to the Co-Ho Salmon Anglers in Canal Park and the next week-end we see several of them have moved from casting to out-rigging.  Thanks to the mild winter and early spring, people have their fishing boats out much earlier than usual.  If you're taking your boat out for the first time this year, the  MN DNR provides a list to check for safety.

With the ice receding from lakes and rivers at what seems like a near record pace, many boaters and anglers are already launching their boats. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is reminding boaters to take special precautions when enjoying early season boating and fishing. Even though air temperatures have been in the 70s recently, water temperatures are still bone-chilling cold.

The key is the life jacket. "A person who suffers swimming failure or loss of consciousness will stay afloat wearing a life jacket, but drown without one. It's smart for boaters to wear a life vest from the time they enter the boat until they return to shore. There is no time to put one on before a boating accident. It's been compared to trying to buckle your seat belt before a car crash."


The DNR Boat and Water Safety Section recommends boaters check the following items before their first outing of the season:

Have a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket on board, in good condition and in the proper size and type for each passenger.  Most boats 16 feet and longer also need one type IV throwable seat cushion or ring buoy in the watercraft.

Make sure all navigation lights are unobstructed and in working order.

Make sure fire extinguisher is fully charged – tap the gauge to ensure it isn't stuck on full.

Put fresh gear case lube in the lower unit.

Make sure the steering is the proper tightness.

Be sure registration numbers are clear and visible and display the current state registration sticker.

Inspect plastic thru-hull fittings and replace any that have cracked. Look for hoses that have been forced off or split from freezing. Every spring, boats sink at the dock when these problems go undetected.

Inspect fuel fittings and hoses; replace if cracked or showing other signs of stress or age.

Get fresh batteries for portable electronic gear – radios, GPS units, flashlights.

Check lights on the boat and trailer. Inspect trailer tires for wear and inflate properly. Check the trailer frame for rust spots; inspect the wheel bearings and re-pack if necessary. Test the winch.

Engine or drive oil that is creamy brown or gray has water in it and a mechanic should find the source of the leak before starting the engine.

Update navigational chart inventory. Channel markers and buoys change and GPS units can fail.

Review boat insurance policy and update coverage if necessary. Many insurance companies offer a discount to boaters who have taken a boating safety course.

Check prop for nicks and dings.

Be sure the drain plug is installed before launching.

Take a boating safety course.

Happy Safe Boating and let me hear you say "FISH ON, GET THE NET!"

Info via:  MN DNR Press Release,

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