Using live bait can be a great strategy for fishing enthusiasts. Live bait often proves more successful in attracting a variety of fish, giving anglers the edge they need. However, keeping the bait alive and healthy during your fishing expedition can be a challenge. For kayak anglers, a bait bucket becomes a vital accessory. For those of us who use bait buckets on our yaks, that means a bubble box. These aeration systems help maintain oxygen levels in the water, thus keeping the bait alive for longer. But there are issues to address.
The thing about bubble boxes is that they are not splash-proof. Which, I don’t care which one it is, if it gets splashed, it’s done. This issue can be quite problematic considering the wet environment of a kayak. I have tried them all in the last four weeks. Plus, the design of the bubble boxes adds another layer of inconvenience. Also, the hose coming out of the top makes it inconvenient to hang it over the side. You have to disconnect the hose, etc. In my case, the one being used is a Frabill.
Keeping these challenges in mind, I wanted to create a better solution – a bait tank system that could keep the bait lively and at the same time, be resilient to splashes and convenient to handle. The solution also needed to address temperature consistency, aeration efficiency, and secure attachment to the kayak. Seems to me that if you can “refresh” the fish with whatever water you are in every so often it will perk them up. I think this works better than a cooler for keeping the temperature consistent. Plus, the bubble boxes say they will “airate 7 1/2 gallons”-but will it do that with a mess of bait in there? Also, securing it is a bit of a challenge. So I came up with the following.
The first thing I did was replace the flimsy handle on the inner bucket with rope. This allows me to untie it and get the lid completely off. This design modification ensures easy access to the bait and provides durability to the handle. Fishstalker-7 gets credit for that idea.
In order to make the bait tank splash-proof, I integrated a rubber cork system. Then get a rubber cork from Home Depot and drill a hole in it for the hose to pass through. It doesn’t need to be snug, but shouldn’t be loosey goosey either.
The rubber cork was then fit into a hole made at the bottom of the bucket. Then put a hole in the bottom of the outside bucket for the cork. It should be just slightly larger than the small end of the cork. The cork will compress as you push it into the hole, sealing it to the bucket and the tube without restricting airflow.
For securing the bait bucket to the kayak, I installed mini cleats. Then I added one mini cleat from Home Depot on each side to secure to yak.
The next modification was to protect the bubble box from splashes. Put the mini bungee around the bucket above the cleats, put the ziplock bag over the bubble box pushing the nipple out the top and attach to mini bungee and hose. This secures the bubble box to the bucket, allows it to get air and provides a “splash barrier.
The modified bait bucket setup was then secured to the kayak. Now you can secure the whole thing to your yak via the mini cleats. For additional safety, I also included a cord system. I also tie a cord from the handle of the outer bucket to a deck loop on one side-just in case, and a cord from the handle on the bait tank to a deck loop on the other side-for convenience.
The system thus developed allows for easy access to the bait without any inconvenience. When you want to throw it over the side to refresh the water or use as a drift sock, or actually see which bait you are casting to its doom, you just grab the cord and pull it out. Bubble box, outer bucket and hose all stay in the yak. As you can see, it is also a pretty compact set-up.
In conclusion, an improvised bait tank like this one can greatly enhance your fishing experience, helping keep your bait alive for longer, minimizing the inconvenience of handling it, and even providing additional uses like acting as a drift sock. With a few inexpensive materials and a little ingenuity, you can ensure that your live bait is kept in the best condition possible, giving you the best chance at a successful fishing trip.