Livewells

Most freshwater and saltwater anglers need live wells — also known as bait wells and bait tanks — on their boats to keep fish alive. Boat Outfitters offers high-quality fiberglass livewells, livewell pumps, accessories, parts, fittings, and components. » Read More

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    Fiberglass Round Livewell
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What is a Livewell?

A livewell is basically a circulating tank that is used on a fishing boat to store either live baitfish, shrimp or crabs, or game fish that you intend to release later. Fresh water is pumped from outside the boat into the tank to keep the water aerated and then drained back overboard. This keeps bait and fish fresh and alive.

Why Are Livewells Important for Fishing?

Livewells keep fish alive on a boat, which is crucial to recreational, tournament, and even commercial fishing for a variety of reasons:

Keep Catch Alive for Tournaments

Many fishing tournaments and competitions — whether bass tournaments, walleye tournaments, or redfish tournaments — are strictly catch-and-release. Fish must be brought to the weigh-in alive and healthy, then released after they are weighed. Often, fish that have been caught are released when the angler catches a larger one later in the day. A good quality livewell is important to keep tournament-winning fish alive and healthy.

Fresh For Those Keeping Fish to Eat

As with many foods, the freshest fish is the best. Instead of tossing caught fish in a cooler for hours, some anglers keep the ones they plan to take home for dinner even fresher by storing them in a livewell until the end of the day when it’s time to clean them. 

Keep Baits Alive and Fresh

Some live baits can be kept in a bucket or box, but live baitfish like minnows, shiners, mullet, sardines, and more, plus crabs, shrimp, and other crustaceans, must be kept in a livewell with clean, aerated water to survive more than an hour or two. Additionally, even if your baits don’t die in a bucket or cooler, they won’t be as lively as baits stored in a circulating livewell, and healthy, fresh baits are much more effective for most species of gamefish. 

Important Features of Livewells

Material

The material livewells are made from helps determine their quality. Livewell materials include plastic, aluminum, and fiberglass. On most boats, fiberglass livewells offer the best combination of appearance, durability, and function.

Size

The size of your livewell will determine how much live bait or caught fish you can keep alive. If you are just going out fishing yourself or with one passenger, you will only need a small livewell, while if you are going out on a bigger boat with a large group, a larger livewell will be crucial. Overloading a livewell can kill the bait or fish inside.

Shape

Livewells come in a variety of shapes — rectangular, oval, and round. One consideration is which shape will fit your boat best. Additionally, round or oval livewells have proven to keep bait and fish alive better. Baits crowd into the corners of rectangular livewells, bumping into each other and the walls. Even rectangular livewells should always have well-rounded interior corners.

Important Livewell Parts

Livewells come in a variety of shapes — rectangular, oval, and round. One consideration is which shape will fit your boat best. Additionally, round or oval livewells have proven to keep bait and fish alive better. Baits crowd into the corners of rectangular livewells, bumping into each other and the walls. Even rectangular livewells should always have well-rounded interior corners.

Pumps

Livewell pumps are incredibly important as they are responsible for ensuring that the water stays aerated in the container part and the fish and bait stored inside are kept alive. Pumps draw raw water from outside the boat and pump it through the well.

Lids

Livewell lids are important in the same way that any lids on containers are important:  they stop the water or the fish and bait from sloshing out, while there is water being pumped in continuously. Of course, they also help prevent dropping pliers, phones, sunglasses, etc. into the well. Clear livewell lids make it easy to see the condition of the baits inside a well and also let in natural light, keeping baits healthier and less stressed.

Housings/Tanks

The housing or tank is where the live bait and freshly caught fish are stored. 

Plug

Livewell plugs are used to stop the water from escaping the tank through the drain. When you need to empty the water or want a flow of fresh water, you may choose to not have the plug attached until you reach the shore.

Feed

A livewell feed is the fitting through which water is pumped into the tank. To create a gentle circulation of water and avoid strong currents, livewell feeds direct water along the walls of the well, rather than toward the middle.

Drain/Standpipe

The standpipe is a crucial part of most livewells. It is inserted into the drain, allowing the well to fill to the top of the pipe before beginning to drain. Then the standpipe is removed to drain the livewell completely.

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