How to Keep Live Bait Alive
One of the easiest and most effective ways to fish is with live bait. My earliest memories of fishing were always using live bait. However, live bait can be difficult to collect or expensive to buy if you only use the bait for a day or two. On the other hand, live bait can be very cost effective if you can keep the bait alive for an extended period of time.
In this article we will cover ways to extend the life of the most popular types of live bait. These techniques will revolve around providing these species with the ideal oxygen, food, temperature, protection, and environment. In some cases these tips can keep live bait going for years, so it can save a great deal of money if you fish on a regular basis.
Crawfish are quite popular for fishing bait. They are easy to catch in most shallow streams or in pools on the edges of rivers. They are also one of the heartiest species of live bait. If cared for properly, they can live for several years. In fact, as a child I completed a science fair experiment on the effects of pollution on crawfish and most still survived for several months.
The most important step in keeping crawfish alive is giving them clean water. Tap water will not do. Ideally you want to use water from a pond or creek. If this is not available, distilled water can work as well. Crawfish can endure extreme heat and cold. You will need to keep them protected from predators as crows or raccoons may try to eat them if left outside.
As for food, they will eat just about anything. You can use any kind of meat or fish, and veggies are fine as well. You can even set them in the sun and let algae grow in the water for a food source. The only rule is nothing greasy. The grease can build up in the water and become an issue.
If you want to take your preservation efforts to the next level, you can add an aerator to the tank. Any aerator you would use in a freshwater fish tank will work fine to keep the oxygen levels high in the water.
To preserve any type of worm for fishing long term, a worm box is the best way to go. To make one, you need to buy a large plastic or rubber tub. You can fill it with worm bedding, or you can just use natural potting soil. You will want to make the soil moist but not wet. If the soil is too wet it will suffocate the worms. To test it, grab a handful and squeeze. Only a few drops of water should be squeezed out.
To maintain your worm box you will need to keep it in a cool shady place. You can bury it in a shady spot in your yard, or keep it in your basement or garage. You can place up to 1,000 worms in a large container and then harvest a handful at least once a month. Check the moisture periodically and add a little water when needed.
To feed your worms you can use wet coffee grounds, eggshells, or worm food. Sprinkle a small amount on the surface of your worm box once a week. Do not add more food until you have verified that the last batch was eaten. You also need to remove your worms and dump the soil once every three to six months. If you properly maintain your box, it can keep the worms alive for years.
For short term preservation, put them in a plastic or styrafoam container in the refrigerator. As with the worm box, keep them fed and keep a proper level of moisture. This can keep them alive for about a month.
Keeping minnows alive is much like keeping any fish alive. They are fairly sensitive and need oxygen, clean water, food, and shelter. The best way to keep them kicking long term is to buy a full fish tank setup. This means you need a tank, a filter, an aerator, and some type of shelter for them in the water. You will need to fill your tank with pond or creek water, or get distilled water. Tap water will kill them quickly.
To setup your tank, it is best to put some gravel in the bottom and add some bigger rocks or fake plants. This gives the fish places to hide so they are less stressed. You can add 15 minnows for each gallon of water, so a 10 gallon tank will hold 150 minnows. If you have a good filter, you should not need to change the water or clean the tank very often.
It is best to feed your minnows once or twice a day using normal fish flakes. When you first start feeding them, watch for excess food floating to the bottom. This means you may be feeding them too much or too often. With this setup you can keep them alive for over a year.