The ability to keep bait alive and fresh while on the kayak has presented a number of difficulties, particularly when it comes to available space to store it. My fishing approach has made a transition from a ‘pack the kitchen sink’ to a ‘pack lightly’ mentality over that last couple of years. This has feed up a bit of space in my tankwell and that space can be now occupied with a DIY kayak livewell.
Live baits cannot be underestimated. Whether you want to keep crabs alive, transport live mackerel to use as hookbait, keep sandeels at their optimum condition or you want to livebait in freshwater (where rules and regulations allow), a livewell is the only way of effectively doing the job. Some popular ideas for keeping bait alive on a kayak invariably leave the livewell trailing in the water and the drag produced really hampers paddling. My own design keeps the livewell clear of the water and securely within reach behind you.
A couple of small barrels, hatch seal, some bungee cord and some sealant are all the materials you need. The only tools required are a saw, drill and possibly a ruler. The barrels I used are square in shape so fit into the tankwell nicely without rolling around. Take one of the barrels and cut out a rectangle from one side of it. This will be the access hole for placing fish in and removing them through. File down the edges and apply the hatch seal to the perimeter. Drill four holes, each one just off the corner of the access hole. These will take the bungee cord that acts as both a hinge and a clasp to keep the door shut.
Take the second barrel and cut a section from one side that is larger than the access hole by at least an inch in every direction. A decent overlap will ensure that the livewell holds fish more securely. File and drill this new section with the holes corresponding to the previously drilled holes on the first piece. Then use the bungee cord to secure the door to the livewell. The ‘hinge’ end will see the bungee passed through the barrel, the ‘clasp’ end will see the bungee on the outside.
That’s the basic shape and idea of the livewell explained. This will suffice in keeping small amounts of live bait alive until needed. An airstone and pump will lengthen the lifespan of your bait, as will fresh water pumped into the barrel. I am currently looking at different methods of incorporating a small pump into the design which will allow a continuous flow of fresh water over the bait and should keep it healthy indefinitely.