Keep ‘em fresh and ready to fish.
If you’ve been thinking about fishing live bait from your kayak, take heart: With some basic gear and rigging, you’re in the game.
Let’s start with baby steps.
Shrimp and Other Tidbits
Like to use shrimp for tipping jigs or still-fishing? Keeping them fresh is a cinch with a storage container like the Frabill Worm Cooler. Simply place ice in the lower compartment, and your favorite jig tipper or cut bait in the upper compartment where it stays cool and dry. It’s small enough to keep in the cockpit or even place in your center hatch.
Tip: Instead of using frozen shrimp from a bait house (that died there), use frozen, uncooked, shell-on shrimp from the grocery store to tip your jigs. You will catch more, and your hands won’t smell like you’ve been dumpster diving behind the bait store.
Another tip: Chilled live shrimp will remain frisky for hours—without water—as long as they’re kept moist and separated from melt water. Cans with plastic lids, used to store coffee or nuts, are great shrimp compartments; simply put a dozen shrimp in the can, and set the can in a cooler. The guy at the bait shop might look at you funny, but trust us, the ice trick works!
Having a Milk Crate and Live Bait, Too
The standard milk crate provides much-needed storage, but it also occupies the same real estate where a bait solution would reside. Here’s how to have both. Outfit your crate with a storage solution (“Crate Mate” from 2bnmotion.com shown), and then put the Frabill Min-O-Life Personal Bait Station in the crate. The air pump hangars perform double duty by keeping the bait station on top of the milk crate. Built-in dip net included.
Ever wonder why so many kayaks have an indent for a 5-gallon bucket in the tank well? It’s not because you will be painting. It’s to help secure a 5-gallon bucket to be used as a baitwell. In order to maximize that valuable space, dress up your bucket with some additional storage (“Bait Bucket Buddy” from 2bnmotion.com shown), add a multi-purpose lid for even more storage, and fire up the air pump.
The Final Frontier, or “… to boldly store where few have stored before …”
If you want to hide something from me, place it in the laundry room, or in my front hatch—I rarely venture in to either one. Get your castnet, stuff that into the insulated Longerlife Collapsing Bait Cooler (Baitkit.com), put the air pump and batteries in a Zip-Loc, and put that in the front hatch. Lures are great, but sometimes fish only want the real thing. So, when that happens, you’re prepared. In the meantime, it doubles as a great beverage cooler.
Welcome to the Summit
Hobie Kayaks are made on the other left coast (California) and over there they take live bait fishing very seriously. If you do too, then this is your solution. The Hobie Bait Station (Hobiecat.com) has an 8-gallon tank, provides water recirculation, and even has extra rod holders. It’s powered by a 6-volt battery (charger included), and will keep a school of greenbacks frisky all day. Don’t own a Hobie? No problem. This gem worked fine on several of my other kayaks (Emotion and Heritage) and it quietly drained in to the tank well and out of the scupper. FS
Originally Published Florida Sportsman Oct. 2012
By Jerry White