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Getting to the ramp is just as important as fishing in Tampa Bay

Fishing this time of year can be great as the river systems really
start to provide a warmer refuge for all of our inshore species to
survive on the cold days. One of my recommendations this time of year
is to fish around the weather. This means that you will have plenty of
days that will just be better off staying at home on those cold windy
days. I like to take advantage of these days to get caught up with
maintenance, weather its on the boats,fishing reels, or more important
your trailer.

As much as we like to fish we like to overlook the not so fun things
that lead up to a great day on the water. One of the first steps to
that would be getting to the water. Most of us trailer and it’s no
secret saltwater and trailers are probably the worst combination. Its
also one of the most ignored parts of our watercraft but should be the
most important. There as some simple tips that I’m going to share with
you that will keep you off the side of the road and in the boat
catching fish.

One of the most important things would have to be tires. I can’t tell
you how many times I’ve seen people on the side of the road with a
blown tire.Most failures start from lower air pressure and this can be
easily avoided by checking your air pressure before leaving. This only
takes a couple minutes and can save you money and time in the long
run. Also check the condition of your tires. Most trailers sit in the
direct sun and tires end up dry rotted causing blow out on the way to
the water. If you do have a low tire check for leaks. One common place
in boat trailers is around the valve stems. Using some soapy water
will make this a quick check.

Another top cause that will have you on the side of the road is a
blown hub. Hubs are pretty simple but typically get ignored until they
fail. Trailers manufacturers have different maintenance intervals are
not all the same when it comes to hubs. My Loadmaster trailer comes
with vortex hubs which are grease with synthetic grease and vortex
hubs and can be run 100k miles but it’s always a good idea to check on
a monthly basis. Another good tip is to have your trailer company
offer a spare hub matched with a rim and tire.

Brakes are one of the biggest pains when it comes to saltwater but are
a requirement by law for anything above 3500 lbs. (Basically 2 axles
and up) With that being said brakes have come a long way since the
days of rusty ole drum brakes that always locked up. Loadmaster runs
dual disc surge brakes by Kodiak and I’ve had good success with
longevity on these systems as long as you make it a point to rinse
them after every trip. There is not a lot of maintenance required
beyond rinsing besides just doing a visual check periodically.

Axles are another one that will leave you dead on the side of the
road. There is not a lot you can do besides check them and know what
condition they are in. Key is to keep an eye on them and replace
before they get to bad. This is as easy as just climbing underneath
the boat and checking the condition. Rust is bad and when it gets
started on an area it progresses fast.

Another good tip is to have a second safety chain on your winch in the
front. I’ve had cases where the strap when under tow has broken and
have had to pull over and figure out a quick solution to get home
carrying a second strap and a chain connected to be a safe option.

Last recommendation I have is to shop trailer companies. Just like
boats reels and rods they are all different. In my years of fishing
and using different trailers I’ve notice that the cheaper trailer
companies cut corners to bring cost down. Some of the common things to
look at are very cheap tires (I’ve had some go bald in 6 months).
LIghts are another place they will cut you short. (I would invest or
pay extra for truly sealed L.E.D. lights, this will help keep you from
getting a ticket and keep you safe). Also look at the equipment that’s
standard. Sometimes that cheaper trailer isn’t any cheaper once you
add the items needed. Items like drive on front bunks,LED side and
rear lights spare hubs and tires, spare tire brackets, aluminum or
galvanized, and guide poles just to name a few.

Last but not least would be to use a local company. Here in Tampa Bay
we have a ton of good trailer companies that make quality trailers.
Keeping money in our local economy in Tampa Bay is a great thing to practice not to
mention if you do have a failure getting the exact parts you need
would be easier. I have had great luck with Loadmaster trailers when
running my daily operation day in and out and have also gave great
service after the sale of the trailer. Whomever you chose make sure
and check the items above and your trips to the ramp will be worry
free. Tightlines