Unfortunately, it is just about time to say goodbye to open water fishing and get ready for the hard water season, which means it's time to put your boat to bed for the winter.
Winterizing your outboard engine is not that difficult, but it definitely needs to be done properly to insure years of reliability from your engine. This is an example of how I take care of a 4 stroke outboard.
First step is to stabilize the fuel in your boats fuel tank. I like to add stabile to my tank the last trip of the season so it gets throughout the entire fuel system. One rule of thumb is to change "fluids and filters in the fall" which includes lower unit gear oil, engine oil and any inline fuel filters along with the fuel/water filter that you probably have.
Drain the lower unit gear oil by removing the bottom drain plug and drain the oil into a suitable pan. Refill from the same plug using factory recommended oil until it starts to come out the top oil level plug, replace the plugs and this part is done, this ensures that any water that may be in the lower unit is removed so it does not freeze and cause expensive damage, this also lets you know there is a repair needed and gives you all winter to take care of it.
Next, I remove the engine oil by sucking it out through the dipstick hole or by removing the oil drain plug located on the back of the engine, refer to your owner’s manual for exact location. Replace the oil filter and add the recommended amount of engine oil.
Next, I use a small 1 to 3 gallon external fuel tank with a winterization fuel mix. There are many "recipes", so check your owner’s manual for what they recommend, but basically, it's a fuel/oil mix with stabilizer and a fuel additive like ring free or carbon guard that keeps the internal engine parts lubricated and safe for the winter.
Outboard engines generally self-drain any water that may be in them, but just to be safe, you can get yourself a kit to run some non-toxic antifreeze through the engine.
Hook the remote tank up, hook the antifreeze tank up using a hose and some "ear muffs" and start the engine until the antifreeze comes out the water pump indicator, the little hole that waters comes out on the side of the engine when it is running, 3 to 5 gals is more than enough for proper protection.
Your engine is now safe and ready to be put to bed. For about half the cost of having a marina winterize your engine, you can purchase the things needed to do it yourself and continue to do it year after year. Have a great winter and go get that ice fishing gear ready.