October 01, 2015
Okay, I’ll be the first to admit it: When I first started fishing saltwater, I had no comprehension of just how utterly destructive saltwater truly is; that stuff is mean!
I came from a freshwater fishing workflow: up at dawn, fish to till dark, throw the rods in the locker, plug in the battery charger – done! If you do that in saltwater, nothing you own will work by the end of the month.
Seriously, it has taken me a long time – and a lot of money – to learn that if you are going to fish in saltwater, you must build in time to properly care for your equipment; otherwise you’re just donating money to Captain Corrosion!
Geographically, I’m very blessed in that when I leave the coast to drive home, I pass several carwashes.
I always make it a point to make a brief stop at a carwash to give everything a nice freshwater bath. In less than five minutes, I can rinse everything inside of the boat – rods, reels, buckets, nets, trolling motor, etc., with freshwater.
One thing about saltwater: It’s the gift that keeps on giving, especially in humid environments like Florida. Any salt residue left hanging around eventually mixes with humidity and the detrimental duo keeps eating away at whatever it’s on, especially anything that holds moisture, like trailer bunks, braided line on reels, nets, winch straps, etc. Let this salt residue lurk around for a while and it will keep paying you rusty dividends for a long time. Allowing just one thimble full of saltwater go unrinsed in a target-rich environment such as in your tacklebox or under the engine cowling is like letting a couple termites go in an old log cabin.
Even if it means going out of your way a bit, rinsing your boat in freshwater after each saltwater trip will add years of life to your equipment.
As a side note: The next best thing to a freshwater rinse from a carwash is a great gift from the heavens in the form of a frog-strangling thunderstorm on the drive home, which completely power washes your boat for you.
The real dilemma, however, comes when you have towed your boat to a coastal area to fish for a week or two and have limited access to frog stranglers, car washes and pressure washers. This is when you have to do your best to sequester the salt with just an ordinary garden hose and a bevy bottled brine battlers.
After each day on saltwater, the bare minimum I do is at least flush the motor with a water boot strapped to the water intakes on the foot and rinse the boat, motor, trailer (including hubs and bunks) and equipment. Think of everything on the boat as a thirsty plant that needs a watering.
After three or four days of these cursory rinses, I’ll set aside a couple of hours to do a much more thorough cleaning. This also is the routine I follow if I return from the coast without hitting the carwash.
The battle against the brine never ends and often requires a battalion of bottled solvents, cleaners and inhibitors as artillery. (Rob Newell photo)
For a more substantial salt arrest, I’ll start with a good dosing of Salt Off made by Starbrite to break down any salt deposits that have formed over several days of salt and sun. Salt Off comes in a traditional spray bottle or garden-hose type applicator that screws right on to the hose and mixes with water as you spray it. This is super convenient for spraying down the hull and getting up under the trailer to hit the backside of wheels and hubs. After letting the Salt Off soak for 15 or 20 minutes, I’ll rinse everything with fresh water.
Next, I’ll take a bottle of Xtreme Clean and hit any stubborn stains like scum lines on the hull/transom or fish blood on the floor or decks. The Xtreme Clean will get the stains loosened and I follow with a brush and sponge. Then it’s time for the general washing with a bucket of water and dish detergent mix – just like washing a car.
After another good rinsing, I grab a can of CRC Heavy Duty Corrosion Inhibitor and go to work spraying down anything metal and mechanical – lugs, hubs, leaf springs, winch, tongue jack, trolling motor bracket joints, jack plate slides, etc. CRC Heavy Duty Corrosion Inhibitor is thick and viscous and will definitely stick around on your most vulnerable metals fighting the good fight for a while.
For electrical connections that I handle a lot like trolling motor plugs, depthfinder connections and battery terminals, I prefer to use something a little lighter in viscosity like Starbrite’s Corrosion Blocker that’s not as thick and greasy. Corrosion always seems to be 10 times worse any where electricity travels, so be especially mindful of these contact points.
This is also a good time to pull the cowling off the outboard and give it a good inspection. If I see the faintest bit of white powdery residue, I’ll give the areas a light squirt with either CRC or Corrosion Blocker. Personally, I’m not real comfortable just soaking everything under the cowling down with a heavy inhibitor like CRC. I’ve seen people do it, but I just prefer to go a little lighter on an as needed basis.
As for depthfinders, ocean spray leaves plenty of salty residues on electronic screens. A healthy dose of Screen Cleaner & Protectant will cure this.
Finally, before storing my rods and reels, I give all my fishing reels and spools a shot of Real Magic line conditioner and lubricant. This stuff really is magic in keeping fishing line (mono, braid and especially fluorocarbon) nimble in during storage without greasiness, odor or tackiness.
When battling the brine, you’ve got to be diligent and vigilant: diligent in staying on top of the daily rinses and vigilant in keeping a careful eye on all the little areas where corrosion can sneak up on you. Trust me, if you let your guard down for more than a day or two, the brine will win.