How to Make a Live Bait Tank

How to Make a Live Bait TankFishing with live bait is a great way to entice large game fish to strike. The natural swimming motion of live bait is hard to duplicate with artificial lures, and fish just seem to sometimes know the difference. Two common problems with live bait involve price and availability. Live bait can be expensive and hard to find. However, with a homemade bait tank you can raise and maintain a ready supply of bait fish at a price that may be much easier on the wallet.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

How to:

Things You’ll Need:
  • 48 quart (or larger) ice chest cooler
  • Distilled water
  • Tap water
  • Water purification solution or tablets
  • Aerator
  • Power source
  • Bait fish
Step 1
Wipe the inside of a 48 quart, or larger, plastic ice chest cooler with distilled water and a clean cloth. Wipe down the entire inside surface of the chest to remove any residue left over from manufacturing or shipping.
Step 2
Place the ice chest cooler on a table or other elevated surface. Make sure to position the cooler so that children or animals will not have access. This is an important step as it is possible for a small child or animal to drown in a cooler filled with water.
Step 3
Fill the ice chest cooler with distilled water. Tap water can be used, however, purification tablets or solution will need to be used to remove any chlorine or other chemicals as they may harm the fish.
Step 4
Connect the aerator to a power source such as an outlet. Assemble any necessary inlet or outlet hoses. Place your finger over the inlet, or air intake, hose to check for suction.
Step 5
Place the outlet tube of the aerator into the water. Mount or suspend the aerator from the side of the ice chest cooler. Allow the aerator to run for a couple of hours before adding bait fish. This will allow the oxygen level to stabilize and provide time to monitor the aerator and cooler for any problems.
Step 6
Add bait fish to the tank. Keep in mind the amount of room in the tank as well as the rate at which the bait will be used. Avoid over crowding the tank to help reduce the chance for injury or disease to the fish.

Tips & Warnings

Monitor the fish frequently and feed as needed to keep them healthy.

Article Written By Keith Dooley

Keith Dooley has a degree in outdoor education and sports management. He has worked as an assistant athletic director, head coach and assistant coach in various sports including football, softball and golf. Dooley has worked for various websites in the past, contributing instructional articles on a wide variety of topics.

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