At this time of year, most of us anglers have had our boats in winter storage for quite some time and we are eagerly anticipating the weather getting warmer so we can once again get the boats out and go fishing.


             I recently talked with an acquaintance of mine and he was totally upset. He had recently checked on his very expensive bass boat that was in a storage facility and discovered some mice and other critters have taken up winter residency in his covered watercraft.


             He had taken all the proper procedures to have his boat winterized making it safe through the winter. He even went to the trouble of jacking the trailer up on blocks and removing the tires and wheels to alleviate the weight remaining on the tires reducing the possibilities of weather checking. (Pretty dedicated considerations.) He done basically EVERYTHING possible EXCEPT… assuring himself the “critters” would NOT spend the winter months in his boat.


             Upon further review, my friend noticed the mice and squirrels had nested under the console and had actually chew the insulation off the electrical wiring to his instrument gages and wiring on is trailer. They had also managed to enter his storage compartments and they had fed on many of his soft plastic lures and even fishing line on his high dollar fishing rods and reels. He even noticed his expensive life jackets had holes chewed in them. He was VERY distraught to say the least and I could not help but notice his vocabulary of “four-letter” words had increased immensely.


             You ask me how this happened when he had the cover on his boat? Just remember a mouse or squirrel is not very large and ANY hole that they can stick their head in, they can and will enter. They have remarkable climbing ability and their agility is unbelievable for climbing, jumping and ascending down electrical cords. If there is the slightest opening around the engine and the boat transom, they will enter there. If there is the slightest space between the boat cover and the side of the boat, they will enter there.


             What I recommend is fairly simple and inexpensive and it has prevented “critters and varmints” from entering my boat during the time it is in storage. I am certain there are other methods but allow me to share my procedure with you. I hope it works for you as well as it as worked for me, and many of my friends.


             I normally use the small Dixie cups and I pick up a box of moth balls and I place possibly 4 or 5 moth balls in a Dixie cup and I place a cup in EVERY one of my storage compartments, including the battery and gas tank area.


             IF you do NOT want the lingering aroma of moth balls greeting you when you bring your boat home from storage, you might opt for another procedure that I have used. I visit a health food store and I purchase a 4 oz. bottle of Spearmint Oil (NOT peppermint oil) for approximately $6.00 and I put a few drops on a cotton ball and place that ball in a Dixie cup and I place them in EVERY storage box. (The aroma is somewhat more pleasant but it works ALMOST as good as the Moth balls.)


             Another method I have used is placing Bounce Fabric Softener sheets in the storage compartments and the results have been rather good also.


             Whatever you do, you MUST take precautions to eliminate these “intruders” from entering your boat while it is in storage. The last thing you want to do is get your boat home, tow it to the lake and discover you have an electrical short and extensive damage to your wiring. I have even witnessed extreme smoke and flame resulting from damage to wiring.


             Just remember, mice, squirrels, raccoon, opossum and even cats, will seek places to stay warm. The cats will be less damaging to your wiring but their hair matting can be quite messy and wait until you discover there is a litter of kittens residing in your boat!!


             It takes just a few dollars and a few extra moments to make sure your boat will be “critter proof” but it will be worth every dollar and every moment of your efforts. Trust me; I hope I can save you some time, money and FRUSTRATION. Ask my friend how much it cost him to have ALL new wiring done on his boat and trailer. On second thought maybe you better allow him a few weeks to “COOL OFF” or you might want to put your fingers in your ears!!