Maintain Fishing Boat Batteries

It’s not difficult to maintain fishing boat batteries, nor very time consuming. However, neglecting to maintain fishing boat batteries can lead to an angler being stranded or even worse, cut a fishing trip short! Not to mention batteries are expensive, so proper maintenance will save money in the long run. Fishing electric motor only lakes in Maryland I gained a lot of experience concerning boat batteries. I have put together some tips I’ve learned over the years to improve my batteries performance and longevity.

Maintain Fishing Boat Batteries

I know there are many people from around the country here on Ultimate Bass with a lot of knowledge and experience with boat batteries. However, I believe Maryland, where I live, is one of the only States requiring any boat operated in drinking water reservoirs to be electric power only. Needless to say, I have plenty of experience with batteries. This doesn’t mean we Maryland anglers are the only ones using batteries to propel our boats, but we do have more to maintain.

Maintain Fishing Boat Batteries – Battery Types, Maintenance Free or Serviceable?

I prefer the serviceable battery for my boat’s electric motor needs. Maintenance-free batteries are okay, but I want to be able to verify the battery is not low on water. Because of constant discharge and recharging, water levels can deplete. Low fluid levels will ruin a batteries lifespan very quickly. Ensuring proper fluid levels in batteries will make them last longer. As an example, I purchased three of the batteries in my boat used from a fellow Ultimate Bass member. The stickers on the batteries show a production date of 2010. I know him well and know he always maintained these batteries. These batteries are now seven years old and still going strong. I attribute this to being able to properly maintain the fluid levels, and proper charging.

I am a little unique in my charging habits. I have six batteries in my boat. Four for my main electric drive motor and two for my bow mounted trolling motor. For charging, I use a combination of both an on-board charger and a portable charger to provide me with four banks. (The on-board charger is not installed in the boat, I use it as a portable charger.) My on-board charger is an older model and only has three banks, so I need the single bank portable charger to cover all four of my drive motor batteries. Once my four drive motor batteries are fully charged, I use one bank of the three bank on-board charger to maintain my two bow mounted trolling motor batteries which are hooked in parallel.

I use my portable automatic charger to check the batteries periodically between fishing trips. This automatic charger has three levels of charge and it can read the voltage or percentage of charge. It is good for lead-acid, AGM and several other types of batteries. I set this charger to lead-acid batteries and ten-amp charge rate. I leave it hooked up until I see the one hundred percent charged before moving it to the next battery. I also use the three bank on-board charger to maintain the other three batteries while I test each one with the portable charger.

I know my process can get confusing, however it’s a very effective way to maintain a six battery boat.

Maintain Fishing Boat Batteries

Hints for maintaining a boat’s electrical system:

Use only distilled water when maintaining fluid levels in the batteries. Tap water has metals and other contaminants which will hurt the battery over time.

Do not leave batteries in a discharged condition for long periods of time. On-board chargers are a great way to get them recharging quickly and go to a “Maintain” level when battery is fully charged. This is also available in many better quality portable chargers.

Keep the top of the battery clean. A combination of dust, electrolyte and other things can create a circuit across the top of the battery and discharge it. Just like leaving a light on. To clean battery terminals, use baking soda and water. Be careful to keep baking soda from getting inside the battery.

Clean the all connections on a schedule. This includes battery connections, circuit breaker connections, and even the trolling motor connections. Corrosion build up creates resistance which weakens current flow in the system. If the wire starts to corrode at a connection or terminal, replace it before it can cause a breakdown on the water.

When installing a trolling motor on a boat, be sure to use the correct gauge wire for the application. This information can be found on several websites like My boat is sixteen feet and my batteries for the bow mount trolling motor are in the stern. I am presently using eight-gauge wire through a sixty-amp breaker to a “Marinco twist-connector” at the bow. The transom-mount motor also runs eight-gauge wire through a fifty-amp breaker and ends in “Anderson Power Pole” seventy-five amp connectors so I can remove it easily.

These are just a few tips and tricks which have worked for me over the years to keep my batteries functioning well and providing long service.

Ed Kriston

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