Are you someone who loves to spend the weekend out on the water fishing? Do you use artificial lures and bait or are you a bigger fan of live bait fishing? When bait fishing, it is important to remember that fish prefer things that move in the water. It is what will capture their attention best. Many artificial companies claim to “out fish” live bait, but we’ll leave this to you to decide. Many true fisherman prefer a bait cooler, which keeps their bait much more lively, if they want to use live bait.
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Live Bait Coolers & Kit Comparison
What are Live Bait Coolers?
Live bait coolers are the secret weapon of professional fishermen. They are specifically designed coolers that have an aerator. These are different from fishing bags or even marine coolers. The aerator provides valuable oxygen to fish and bait that are in the cooler and helps them to live longer than they would normally. This means, when it is time for your next weekend long fishing trip, you can stock up on bait and they will still be living when you are ready to cast your last throw on Sunday evening.
Why You Need a Bait Cooler?
Anyone can go fishing for an afternoon and use live bait from start to finish. However, if you are an avid fishing fan, you may want to fish until the last little of the bait is gone. Whether you are using minnows, fiddlers, pin fish or any other type of bait that may be popular in your area, live bait works best. Every time. Do you want to have to make up fishing tales because your shrimp died prematurely?
Investing Wisely in a Live Bait Cooler Will Cut Cost
How many times have you had to run back to shore to get more live bait from the marina? Each trip to and from your favorite fishing spot, cost you not only time, but gas. All those dead shrimp that you tossed overboard, those were a waste of your money. Admittedly, they may have chummed up your favorite spot, but what did you gain? You were hauling butt to the nearest marina.
If you spend a year’s worth of weekend trips running to and from the marina or the bait and tackle shop that you visit to buy your bait, how much money will you spend? Because aerators and bait coolers are now so affordable, this is the sensible solution to prolonging the life and performance (more lively) of your bait.
DIY-Build Live Bait Coolers, Cheap Option
If you are worried about your budget for a live bait cooler, you can create one for yourself. However, you need a cooler that is at least 48 gallons and you need an aerator with the proper hoses. Many anglers prefer to create their own, so supplies for it are easy to come by and most do not cost very much.
Your cooler should be plastic with hard sides. We don’t suggest using a high end cooler for this, rather a cheaper outdoor cooler will work just fine. You will need to clean it well and keep it in an area that does not get direct sunlight. Hot water will also kill your bait, and the sunlight will, overtime, damage your cooler.
Note: You will need to use distilled water or water from the area your bait came from naturally. Fill your cooler to within a couple inches of the top.
Connect the hoses to your aerator and plug it into a power source. Block one end of the hoses with your finger to see if there is suction and pull. Attach the aerator to the side of the cooler, ensuring that your hoses are in the water and creating bubbles. Let it run like this for a few hours to make sure that it will work properly for an extended period of time before you add the live bait.
If you have a large enough cooler (check our favorite coolers here), you can keep your bait alive from one weekend to the next without any real issues, as long as you keep them fed and of course check on them to add more water if necessary every few days. You also need to keep in mind that your bait needs to be able to move freely within the water, so try to avoid overcrowding.
Here is a DIY Aerator Cooler video:
Live Bait Coolers & Aeration Kit Reviews
Whether you are considering your option to buy bait coolers or you want to try creating your own, here are a few products to help you get started on the road to successful fishing trips. Below are the most popular coolers and kits available.
Engel Live Bait Cooler W/ Battery Powered Air Pump
This 13 quart battery powered bait cooler is ideal for just about any fishing environment. It has a locking lid, the aerator is securely attached and it is available in three different sizes; 13qt, 19qt and 30qt. Many will agree that it can keep minnows alive for days and shrimp also stay alive during the heat of a summer fishing trip. The only potential problem with it is that it may not work well for small bait fish due to the size. If you plan on using pin fish, greenies, or other small bait fish, you’ll want the largest size.
It is also worth noting that this bait cooler is manufactured by one of our top performing coolers we have tested. Time and time again, Engel finishes among the top of the virtually every test we have conducted. If you’re one to pick the best of the best, or as they say, “buy once, cry once,” the Engel will not disappoint.
Frabill Personal Bait Station
The Frabill Personal Bait Station is a cheaper alternative compared to the Engel above. This is a smaller cooler, so keep that in mind before picking the cheaper alternative. At 8 quarts, this will be ideal for minnows, shrimp and very limited smaller bait fish. If you plan to “load the live wells” with bait, a larger cooler is surely to be a better choice. As with the bucket style below, this cooler comes with a lift out liner, making grabbing bait that much easier. With the kit comes the cooler, the aerator, diffuser and all necessary hoses.
Frabill MIN-O2 Bucket
For a cheaper alternative to the Engel, the Frabill line of bait coolers could be your solutions. There are a few options available including a “Shrimp Shack, “MIN-02,” as well as a few others. The most popular model is the Min-o2. This 4.25 gallon cooler and aerator system is a longer life bait cooler than most. It is fully insulated to keep bait cool and the water well oxygenized. It comes with a lift out net liner, the Frabill aerator, and a lid that will lock securely in place to prevent spills even if the water is rough. All you have to provide is the bait and 2 D sized batteries. Keep in mind that this is a smaller aerated bait cooler. This is most suitable for smaller minnows, shrimp or a limited amount of small bait fish.
Frabill Aqua-Life Cooler Modification Aerator Kit
If you would prefer to DIY, this could be the kit for you. A DIY aeration kit will allow you to use whichever size and type of cooler you prefer. This comes with everything that you need to convert your average hard shelled cooler into a live bait tank. It has the aerator, the air hose, a micro bubble diffuser, and all the fittings and brackets necessary. The housing for the aerator is gasketed to ensure that it will not leak. You can then power it using 2 D sized batteries, a 12 volt adapter, or a 110 volt adapter.
Marine Metal Super Saver 12-Volt Aeration Kit
This is a cheaper DIY aerator kit. As with the Frabill above, you’ll have to choose a cooler of your size and brand preference. This sill also work for live wells in boats. It will fit both round or rectangular shaped live wells and works best on live well systems that are on a boat that is less than 21 feet. However, it can provide a backup aerating source for larger boats in case of breakage. This kit provides everything you need and can produce 99.5% saturation of dissolved oxygen.