Kayak Bait Tank Options
by Brian Long
Here on the West Coast live bait is one of our primary methods of fishing for white seabass, yellowtail, halibut and just about any species that is targeted from a kayak. Keeping mackerel, sardines or anchovies alive requires circulating fresh water to keep the bait alive. Some of these tanks, or variations of them can also be used as livewells for freshwater bass fishing or live weigh in tournaments.
The most basic type of bait tank is the 5 gallon bucket tank. As the name implies it is made of a 5 gallon bucket and uses a bilge pump which hangs off the side to re-circulate the water and drains out of a strainer on the other side of the bucket. A gamma seal screw top lid is attached to the top of the bucket to keep bait from jumping out.
The next step up in technology would be the drop-in tank which is specially designed to fit in the rear hatches of the Malibu X-Factor and eXtreme, and is also available for the large rectangular hatch on the Pro2Tandem. These are plumbed the same way as the bucket tanks with a bilge pump hanging off one side and the drain out the other side.
For all you pedallers, you need to look no further - Hobie's own Livewell is your best bet. It fits pretty much all of Hobie's most popular fishinig kayaks; it is sturdy and reliable. Water intake and discharge fit right into the existing scuppers in the cargo area. It has a high-flow self-priming Attwood pump, a 6 volt sealed gel cell battery, adjustable drain, and the capability of holding up to 8 gallons of water.
And the most flexible live bait system may as well be our own KFS Ultimate Bait Tank. Low profile design keeps your kayak sleek in the wind and lowers the center of gravity. Using a 6 volt system allows the pump to run at a slower rpm, thereby lessening stress on the bait without sacrificing proper flow to keep the bait fresh and lively. This also prolongs the running time of the system without the need for a larger, heavier 12 volt battery. As a completely self contained unit the Ultimate Bait Tank requires no installation or assembly and is easily transportable between kayaks. When not needed the system can be left at home without anything installed on the kayak, however it's recommended to install two additional eyelets on the boat to secure the bait tank, especially for surf launching. An eyelet on each side of the Ultimate Bait Tank makes it easy to secure it to the kayak. Since no installation is necessary, this unit can also be taken on vacation and used on a rental kayak or small skiff. Inflow is produced by a marine grade bilge pump which hangs over the port side of the kayak and outflow drains out of two holes per side, which will then drain through the scupper holes in the tank well of your kayak. This system can not be placed in an area without sufficient drainage, it must have scupper holes or drainage in the area it is placed. This system was designed and developed by our kayak fishing staff as the most functional, durable, adaptable and cost effective unit possible. All electrical components are marine grade and have been tried and proven in other applications of kayak fishing such as fishfinder installations and other bait tank systems. The tank itself is made of the same polyethylene material as most major kayak brands. After designing and testing this bait tank, we are confident that we have truly created The Ultimate Bait Tank.
All three styles of tanks will keep bait alive just the same, but some are more user friendly. On all bait tanks, we recommend using a timer switch which will disrupt the current every 7 seconds so that the pump will be on for 7 seconds and turn off for 14. This saves your battery and is actually a bit better on the bait as they're not getting constantly blasted.
If you'd like to purchase one of these three bait tank systems and install it yourself, or if you have your own idea for a bait tank or livewell, check out our installation kits which include everything you need for the electrical or plumbing on a bait tank.
For a complete selections of kayak live wells and accessories, please go to Bait Tanks category.
If you're more of a "do-it-yourself" person and just need specific parts for your own live-well project, we got your covered - Bait Tank Parts category ought to have what you're looking for.