Now that we are in the full heat of summer we have had many questions concerning the maintenance of live bait, mainly minnows and worms. We all know thats its really hard to beat the real thing. No lure can exactly mimic the smell, movement, color, and texture of the real thing. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how many fishing lures you have in your tackle box, fishing can still be tough. Often, all it takes is to make a switch to fishing with live bait and you can turn the slow trip into an action packed day. When it comes to fishing with live bait, the fresher the bait the better the results. No matter what type of live bait you are fishing with, there is a typically a little maintenance involved to ensure that your bait stays fresh and active.
All too often, if the temperature becomes a factor, it is almost always a result of your bait overheating.
Minnows – Here at the shop we have a cooling coil that runs 24 hrs to keep the minnow tank water as close to 55 degrees as possible. When we put the minnows in a bucket, especially now during the heat of summer, that water immediately begins to warm up. On hot days I throw a frozen plastic bottle of water or a chunk of ice, in there to keep the temp down. Simple things like ensuring your minnow bucket is out of direct sunlight can increase the life span . Keeping them overnight them in an air conditioned room or in the garage this time of year isnt going to cut it.
The same goes for worms. We get them fresh weekly and keep them refrigerated the whole time till they walk out the door. Once you get the worms its best to immediately put them in the ice cooler or home refrigeration to ensure they remain fresh and alive. All it takes is about an hour or so in over 70 degree heat for them to get to start to get flaccid , limp and begin to die. Once that happens there is no recovery. Most often its referred too as melting. Especially don’t leave them in the car very long .
Minnows-How would you act if you struggling for air? Chances are you would be very stressed and sluggish, which is exactly the way your live bait will be acting if they find themselves in this predicament. Ensuring that your bait has the proper aeration is not only critical in keeping your live bait fresh, it also ensures that your bait will actually remain alive. Also consider the amount of bait in the container. Stress is a big reason that bait will die before being used. Again we have a “aeration bubbler” going in the minnow tank here at the shop 24 hrs.-there is a limited amount of oxygen in water and as the fish breathe its constantly gets used up and has to be replenished. Same in a bait bucket, there is limited oxygen in the bucket so most fishermen have portable bubbler that attaches to the bucket and runs for days on a couple D batteries. So if you walk out the bait store with a bucket full of minnows and no oxygen supplement then, yup they are gonna suffocate and die very quickly. There are also inexpensive “bait buddy “oxygen tablets that can be dropped into the bucket that act as bubblers and slowly dissolve, kinda like an alka seltzer tablet, and add oxygen to the water. So again -Keeping them overnight them in an air conditioned room or in the garage this time of year with no oxygen supplenment isnt going to cut it.
So with just a little extra prep and maintenance your live bait should stay fresh and juicy for a successful fishing trip.
Have fun , be safe and good luck fishing.