It’s been a fun day on the water and the cooler is full of fish. While we all want to go straight from the water to the dinner table, there are several steps you should complete before you start preparing your catch. The first of these steps, the boat shakedown, is perhaps the least exciting. No one ever said this was fun, however, it is an essential part of boating and for being a smart boater. Here are some steps to follow to ensure your shakedown is done properly.

Use two straps

You just put your boat on the trailer. Make sure to trim the motor and that the boat is straight before going any further. Next, crank the boat up onto your roller. Once this is done, I advise everyone to use an extra strap. Many anglers find out the hard way that they need a new strap – it breaks. A simple $5 backup strap can save you a dreaded call to your insurance company in the future.

Pull the plug

This should be done right after you pull your boat out of the water. This way, by the time you get done with your shakedown or you get home, you are able to put your plug back in. I always make sure to put the plug back in before putting it away for the day. This will ensure you don’t run into the scary surprise of your boat taking on water during your next adventure. Also, while you are at the back of the boat, make sure to put on your transom tie-downs and make sure your trailer lights are working properly. Double check your motor is trimmed properly as well.

Clean your livewell and boat trailer

Make sure your livewell is wiped out. Cooler-D-Funk Cleaning Formula is excellent for this because it is environmentally safe. Simply spray it in the livewell or cooler, wipe it out and rinse it out. If there is any residue left over it won’t harm your baitfish or the edibility of the fish you put in there. Make sure all of the water is drained from your boat and all seaweed and debris are removed from the sides of the boat or trailer. This is especially important for decreasing the chances of spreading invasive species.

Make sure food is taken out of the boat and the floor is clean

Sure, you may be taking the boat out tomorrow or during the week, but rodents and other animals will not wait to get into your snack stash. To be safe, make sure to take all food and drinks out of the boat each time you get out.

Fuel up your boat

We all like to put this off and say, “I’ll do it before I go out next time,” but do yourself a favor and fuel up your boat before you get home. Not only will this will ensure your boat has gas in it for next time, but it will also keep you from having to find an open gas station at five in the morning.

Cover your boat

Whether the boat is stored outdoors or in a garage, it is always a good idea to cover it in some way. This is will help keep dust and insects out of the boat and from having a wet seat in the morning. It can also aid in extending the life your electronics if you keep them in the boat throughout the season.

Check on your boat periodically

Even if you haven’t taken your boat out in a few weeks or months, check on it. Make sure there isn’t water sitting on the cover and everything is still intact. Also, checking for mold will help decrease the chance that it spreads far if it does start to appear. Making sure the plug is in every time may seem a bit overkill, but it will give you peace of mind in the long run.