There are many steps you can take to reduce mechanical
Donít overcrowd your tank. While you may start the
trip with more bait, they will have a much higher
collision rate against other fish and be forced against
the walls thus losing more scales. What you will have
to fish with will be disappointing.
Donít mix species of bait. The larger hardy bait will
impact the fragile bait that will lose scales, die
and fall to the bottom of the tank. The scales free
floating in the tank will get into the gills of the
hardier bait killing them.
If cast netting bait or jigging try to avoid touching
the bait with your hands. Using a cast net causes
scale loss but emptying it onto the deck then picking
up the bait to put it into the tank is even worse.
Empty the net into the tank if possible. Use a butter
knife to remove fish from bait jigs. Slip the dull
side of the knife under the hook and shake the fish
off into the tank avoiding contact.
When buying bait from a commercial bait provider ask
him not to scoop too many fish at once. Crowding the
net causes the bait at the bottom to be packed and
loose scales. Ask how long he has had the bait, generally
the bait he has had the longest will be in the best
shape. This is called cured bait, the bait damaged
when first caught will have died and the remaining
will generally be in good shape.
Plumb your tank correctly. It is important to insure
that the volume of water is sufficient to flush out
impurities and keep the oxygen high. As to the question,
"Do I put the water in at the top of the tank
or bottom?". Both create problems. A powerful
stream emitted by an undamped feed line below water
level can strip scales, and cause bait to panic in
an attempt to dodge the flow. Installing spray bars
or 90 degree fittings to direct the water against
a side wall causes problems with fish impacting the
fittings. Water entering above the water line eliminates
these problems, but if the drain is also at the top
stagnant water and ammonia may build up at the bottom
of the tank. The best way to introduce water is thru
a water baffle plate that is flush to the tank wall,
and introduces water thru slots evenly over the entire
water column. It is important that there are enough
slots to reduce turbulence and that the slots are
cut at an angle to create a directional water flow
inside the tank. Directional water flow tanks help
the bait school while providing more oxygen over there
gills. However you chose to plumb your tank, "Keep
It Clean." Spray bars, exposed fitting, drains
or other plumbing pipes that the fish will rub against
all lead to scale loss and premature bait death.
Fill time, or the time it takes the tank to fill to
the overflow fitting. A good starting fill time is
5 to 8 minutes, then adjust for conditions. Most attention
to this subject has been directed at turbulence from
too fast fill time. Although turbulence or too strong
a current in a tank is not desirable, neither is depleted
oxygen (O2) content nor the build up of ammonium from
fish excretions. Cold water holds more O2 than warm
water, so anglers that fish in warm water areas must
increase flow to keep O2 levels up. If your bait fish
are gasping for water, they need more O2, so you need
to increase flow. Ammonium build up is another factor,
the more bait and the type of bait you are using will
effect the ammonium build up. It is imperative to
keep the level low for healthy fish. Increase flow
when carrying more bait. A tip for reducing ammonium.
When you first fill the tank, the fish will excrete
more from the stress. Open the bottom drain cap for
a few minutes allowing the tank to drain from both
the top and bottom to flush the tank out faster. Be
sure to watch the water level. -- My livewell will meet this requirement when fitted with flow valve after the pump - CPM
Another important factor relating to water flow is
keeping fresh water free of air bubbles. If you are
getting cloudy water or see air bubbles coming in
thru your intake line check to see if the intake strainer
on the bottom of your boat is picking up turbulent
water from a forward mounted transducer, a propeller,
or hull chine.
Use a small light at night to illuminate your tank.
This will prevent fish from crashing into the walls
and each other. The light will also sooth the fish
and make them less spooky at night. Large scale marine
aquariums do not turn off all the lights at night
for this reason. Look into the tank at night, if you
can see the bait they can see each other and the walls.
The light source can be built-in or a small deck light
that will shine through the tank. -- My livewell can be made to meet this requirement - CPM
Donít install the drain too far down from the top
of the tank. This can cause excessive sloshing, which
is hard on the bait. At Kodiak we install our drain
fittings 2 3/4" down from the top of the tank.
Rough tank interiors cause scale loss. Fiberglass
tanks may look great from the outside but will injure
bait fish that rub against their rough interiors.
If you insist on fiberglass go to the additional expense
of a double walled tank, in the long run it will be
worth it. -- My livewell meets this requirement - CPM
When you remove bait from the tank donít dig the net
deep into the tank. This can injure the other fish.
If your friends are diggers let them catch the bait
by hand. Hand nets that fall into and are left in
the tank are murder on bait fish, again causing scale
Finally, donít beat up your bait by going too fast.
Pounding across waves or even small chop can cause
sloshing in your tank that will rub scales off. You
may get there first, with dead bait.