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gunflint

Modifying Live Well

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I'm thinking of modifying my live well as a winter project. The problem with it is that it's located along the gunwale as opposed to in the floor. There is no insulation on either side and in the warm sunshine it's like putting fish into a fryer. When fishing all day I have dead fish in the live well for hours before I'm able to clean them.

What I'm considering doing is lining the well with styrofoam and hooking up some sort of airator.(Perhaps the kind you can get for minnow buckets.) I'd also like to come up with a way to cool it down just a degree or two. I think dumping ice in there just shocks the fish. Is this a workable scheme or a waste of time and money? Thanks.

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Why not just keep pumping fresh water into your livewell? You must already have a livewell aerator that pumps water in, just put a timer on it if you don't already have one and it will pump in fresh oxygenated, cool water and it will displace some of the old warm water out the overflow. If you don't have a timer or don't want to put one in, just run the aerator once in a while to keep the fish happy.

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Tried that. The problem is that the live well drain is close to the water line. The only way that it drains properly is when I'm running with the bow lifted or when the boat is on the trailer. If I pump water in when stationary or running the trolling motor the live well over flows into the boat.

But that does bring up an interesting point. Is it possible to raise the drain? I'm thinking that's a lot of headache. On the other hand it probably wouldn't make much sense to do any other modifications unless I can first circulate fresh water.

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My Lund has the livewell overflow near the top and a drain in the bottom. I stuck a tube that is about 2/3 the heighth of the livewell in the drain hole. It keeps the water recirculating, but not to the tip top of the livewell as it was designed.

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Why not just keep pumping fresh water into your livewell?

That's fine if the surface water temps are cool, like mid to upper 60's but no warmer than that. If the surface water temp is warmer than that, you are much better off recirculating the water in your live well. If you just keep on pumping in surface water you will have dead or damaged fish in high water temps.

Recircing keeps the water moving which cools it down and adds oxygen to the water, and the splashing helps release ammonia and carbon dioxide that is in the water. If you have a good insulated livewell and a good recirculating system you should have no problem keeping fish alive even on the hottest days.

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I buy 4 bags of ice on the way to the lake, and put them in the livewell. Fish don't die quite as fash and are better shape when I get home. If you put styrofoam around outside and redo outside with new boards and carpet it does help.

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At times I put ice in my livewell, but then I don't run water in there. The fish go on ice and stay on ice until we clean them. It's illegal to transport fish in water so if you know you'll be keeping fish then driving home the ice in the livewell is a good route to go.

I know several guides in Canada that freeze water in 1/2 gallon or gallon milk jugs - they put them in the livewell in the morning, add fish all day (no water), rinse the jugs off back at camp and put them back in the freezer until the next morning. Very effective.

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