WAUKEGAN, Ill. (AP) _ Outboard Marine Corp., manufacturer of Johnson and Evinrude outboard engines, says it will lay off 3,100 workers temporarily because of lagging boat sales.

The company made the announcement Wednesday, saying it will stop building boat engines for several weeks.

The company said its stern-drive plant in Lexington, Tenn., will be closed for six weeks beginning late this month. Seven outboard engine plants, including a plant in Waukegan, Ill., that employs 580 workers, will close for two to three weeks in April.

Slow sales which began last summer have continued into the first quarter, said James Chapman, president and chief executive officer of the company.

''We are reducing our engine production this spring to prevent inventory from building up in our plants and in our dealers' showrooms this summer,'' he said.

''We aim to improve our efficiency and competitiveness by taking this action now to better match our production to the realities of the marketplace.''