Don’t let winter weather win. Tackle a bass boat restoration project

The author adds the final touch to his bass-boat restore. A recessed foot pedal tray relieves fatigue.

For some anglers, bass fishing is a year-round battle of wits and determination. Layers of clothing, paired with face masks and skull caps, enable continued participation. Other anglers love the sport but display limitations. For those, numerous cups of coffee and a boat-restoration project can fill the idle time in a wet and cold winter.

Of course, an angler can restore any boat he or she sees fit, and the process is not exclusive to bass boats. Bass fishers, however, are a different breed, and as a result, they take the restoration process beyond limitations to produce the ultimate bass-busting machine. Following a barrage of steps can yield success.

Check the hull

When purchasing a boat that’s the right candidate for restoration, buyers must exercise caution. In most cases, if you are buying a boat needing work — and not a $60k newbie — you are more than likely working within the confines of a budget. The budget is often the biggest obstacle.

Most items in the restoration are typically cosmetic, but not the hull. Unless you are a fiberglass guru, avoid damaged hulls or those that look suspect. Giving several knocks with the knuckles around the transom can discover any softness or rot. Brown stains traveling downward from outboard mounting hardware are a tell-tale sign of potential decay. Unless your budget is quite large, steer away from the stains.

Hulls that show severe signs of wear and stress cracking should be avoided; they can be a ticking time bomb that can leave you stranded or sinking. Neither makes for a good day of fishing.

Gel coat

That sexy sparkle that glistens in the sunlight is gel coat. Buyers should not necessarily run from a light, chalky finish, as long as they understand some time and elbow grease will be warranted in bringing back the luster.

Refinishing an oxidized gel coat is a step-by-step process utilizing soapy water, several rags, and various courses of sandpaper. When attempting to revitalize the gel coat, be sure to read all manufacturer instructions. A visit to YouTube goes a long way.

Carpet, seating issues

The author’s bass boat after receiving new carpet, seats, a trolling motor with a recessed foot-pedal tray, and electronics.
(Picture by Photos by Nick Vaccaro )

You get what you pay for, which has never been truer than when installing carpet in your bass boat. Avoid products that are not meant for this type of use. Just because the carpet at the local building supply store is specified for outdoor use does not mean it is best suited for a bass boat’s flooring and decks.

Restorers will save money down the line by going straight to a marine carpet provider. Spend the money on better products and installation goods. After getting glue stuck to various parts of your body, you will not want to tackle this area of the project ever again.

Seating falls into the same category: a significant investment. Besides the striping and decals, the seats will accentuate that fine bass boat to be. Locate a marine provider and splurge. After spending time on this project, you will want to enjoy your new ride every weekend. Get the seats that are big and comfortable. Nothing makes a fishing trip more miserable than being uncomfortable and fatigued.

Trolling motor, electronics

After getting the aesthetics out of the way, it is time to drill down on the bass-hunting tools: the trolling motor and depth finders. Splurge for a larger trolling motor that is at least 24 volts to combat windy conditions. Nothing is more frustrating than fighting wind when you should be battling bass.

It is easy to go overboard with electronics here and buy the biggest and best — the ones that  look like wide-screen TVs. Remember to stay within your budget. Enhancements are always possible later and only involve a few screws, whereas upgrading carpet involves solvents, scrapers, sweat and cussing. Again, spend more on the carpet.

Last of the advice

Bass fishermen love to spin yarns, tell stories and report how they handled an issue. The internet is an incredible source of forums and groups; ask questions if any doubt surfaces.

Local fishing clubs can undoubtedly help guide you with dos and don’ts. Just remember, when it comes to that winter restoration project, it is always better to ask questions in the present than regret a wrong decision later.