Fish Keeping Tips

Key factors for keeping fish alive:

  • Proper aeration
  • Water temperature maintenance
  • Water acidity control

If one of these conditions is out of balance, fish become stressed and weakened.

General points for good bait keeping:

  1. Never overload your livewell with too many fish. Take an extra container with a portable pump or aerator.
  2. Experiment with different species and different amounts of fish.
  3. Avoid handling the bait as much as possible. If you hook and line your bait, remove them with a dehooker or shake them off directly into the bait tank.
  4. As the livewell temperature changes, replace the water or add ice so the temperature remains close to the natural habitat and ammonia does not accumulate.
  5. Remove all dead or injured bait from the livewell immediately. Use for chum.
  6. When selecting bait to put on the hook, pick out strong top swimmers. Avoid pushing the dip net through the center of the well.
  7. When fishing, change bait often. The bait should always be good and lively.

The principles of keeping bait fish alive are the same no matter where you are – in a boat, on a beach, in fresh or salt water.

The most important elements are:

  • Proper aeration – Aeration should be gentle and provide enough dissolved oxygen to keep the bait comfortable. Stress is the #1 killer and occurs if the aeration spray or the bait well current is too strong. Pumps should be adjusted accordingly. Most bait fish require a dissolved oxygen level of approximately 5-7 ppm. Battery powered air pumps (1.5 v to 12 v) are excellent devices to add supplemental oxygen for small bait buckets up to 40 gallon wells.
  • Water temperature is also important – As the water temperature increases, it holds less oxygen and fish become more active. They consume more oxygen and produce more toxic waste. Changing the water and adding ice are the two simplest ways to control water temperature.
  • Water acidity – When bait fish are held for extended periods of time without a change of water, their body waste breaks down into dissolved toxins causing ammonia. Changing the water is the easiest way to control this problem.

A simple statement about live bait fishing

Live bait catches more fish and bigger fish than all of the spoons, plugs, gigs and plastic put together. Good things happen quicker with live bait. If you do not have a lot of time to spend or if children are involved, live bait fishing is the way to go and it is fun, too.