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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Those live bait croakers and bait shrimp problems are definitely back again along the Gulf Coast and bays (TX, LA. MS, AL and FL). These live bait problems are have always been predictable and always will be predictable. Summer live bait mortality always begin when the coastal water temperatures hits 80’s F and will get much worse as the water temperature increases the rest of the summer. Coastal live baiters (Offshore, bays and estuaries are well aware of those summertime bait blues, ie. dying, sloppy, red-nosed baits and non-functional livewell/bait tank failures.
You can bet that your cost for live bait is going up for the next 3 ½ months whether you are catching it or buying it. You can also bet your livewell water quality will deteriorate day by day as the water temperature increases too.
This time of year always hook up your liveliest baits first in the morning before it gets red-nose and too sloppy to fish with. Be sure to bring plenty ice and keep your livewell water chilled.
The only problem with chilled live bait is when it is hooked up and cast back into that hot bay or Gulf water… it dies so quickly.
 

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Thanks JJ....you make a good point. I have had the same issues. I have also heard that placing light cloth on the bottom of your bucket etc will help shrimp survive longer. It helps them to have material to grip a little so they dont get quite so beat up in transit. Weighting the air stone to keep it on the bottom of your bucket will also help some.
 

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Ammonia and O2 levels...
use oxygen and do water changes

don’t chill water... it does not fix the problem
 

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If you continually recirculate the water from the bay to livewell, you will have problems. You want to keep the water cool. Use a system that creates oxygen. Mudskipper chilling the water helps. It does not fix the problem totally.
 

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I used to use a lot of tricks to keep bait alive during the summer, one being to take a gallon of bay water home and freeze it into ice cubes. I had been told not to cool the live well with ice made from treated water. Also, the aerators that just blow a water jet to create bubbles, don't oxygenate the water very well and they beat the shrimp up. My fishing buddy eventually found the Bait Saver Live Wells (they now have insulated live wells). Their aerators produce 99.5% saturation of dissolved oxygen without agitating the water. We then started carrying a weighted bucket on a rope. The weights take it to the bottom where the water is cooler. As you pull it up, the warmer surface doesn't displace the much of the cooler water and you can add that to the live well.

Then I chucked it all for lures 25 some odd years ago
 

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I used to use a lot of tricks to keep bait alive during the summer, one being to take a gallon of bay water home and freeze it into ice cubes. I had been told not to cool the live well with ice made from treated water. Also, the aerators that just blow a water jet to create bubbles, don't oxygenate the water very well and they beat the shrimp up. My fishing buddy eventually found the Bait Saver Live Wells (they now have insulated live wells). Their aerators produce 99.5% saturation of dissolved oxygen without agitating the water. We then started carrying a weighted bucket on a rope. The weights take it to the bottom where the water is cooler. As you pull it up, the warmer surface doesn't displace the much of the cooler water and you can add that to the live well.

Then I chucked it all for lures 25 some odd years ago
Lol great response. Way too much work messing with bait unless you guide and have people that can’t fish. Then you’re at least getting paid to deal with the hassle. So much easier throwing plastics.
 

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Back when I used to use live shrimp how I set my livewill up was, I would freeze a case of mini water battles and put a thermometer in the live well. When the water would get over 75 degrees I would add bottles until it came down to 75 and would add one as needed to keep it there. I took a mesh made for fish tanks and lined the walls so the shrimp had something to hang on to and wouldn't get banged around the tank. Added a oxgyen tank and ran my recirculating pump on a 5 min timer set up, lastly I added a cap full of please release me to treat the water. After doing this, my shrimp and barking monkeys would last all day and never really had a problem again. If I still used live bait, I would set my livewell up the same way today. In the cooler months I just pumped in fresh water every hour or so and ran my oxygen bottle / recirculating pump every 5 min and added the please release me to treat the water
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Back when I used to use live shrimp how I set my livewill up was, I would freeze a case of mini water battles and put a thermometer in the live well. When the water would get over 75 degrees I would add bottles until it came down to 75 and would add one as needed to keep it there. I took a mesh made for fish tanks and lined the walls so the shrimp had something to hang on to and wouldn't get banged around the tank. Added a oxgyen tank and ran my recirculating pump on a 5 min timer set up, lastly I added a cap full of please release me to treat the water. After doing this, my shrimp and barking monkeys would last all day and never really had a problem again. If I still used live bait, I would set my livewell up the same way today. In the cooler months I just pumped in fresh water every hour or so and ran my oxygen bottle / recirculating pump every 5 min and added the please release me to treat the water
Inducing livewell hypothermia with ice is very popular to chill hot summer bay water. Chilling the water with ice increase dissolved oxygen a little and reduce fish metabolism (need for oxygen). Livewell water hypothermia is and has been popular and recommended for decades.

I looked into this a little deeper this morning and this is what I discovered and wanted to share with you regarding the primary effects of induced hypothermia, hyperthermia and intentional temperature shock on live fish (croakers, shrimp and tournament game fish).

Did you know that chilling livewell water with ice (intentional hypothermia) is a double edge knife that cuts both ways; there’s is much more to induced livewell hypothermia than 1st meets the eye. Hyperthermic shock is the other side of the blade and that blade cuts both ways.

Fishermen often intentional induce livewell water temperature shock adding ice to acutely change water livewell water temperature from hot summer water temperatures to colder livewell water temperatures (like an A/C unit in the livewell making the water temperature more comfortable for the live baits).

This kind of temperature shock (cold water to hot water) happens quicker and is more deadly for fish going from hot environmental bay water to cold livewell water in the summer. Hot water shock happens quickly when your chilled bait in your livewell is hooked up and tossed back into that hot bay water. That’s does not take into account the extreme additional of hooking trauma and injury stress. We can probably all agree that this is the deadliest and most stressful experience of any fish’s life.

Along the Gulf Coast, chilling hot summer livewell water is common and always highly recommended by live bait fishermen (hypothermia) including most fishery biologist’s recommendations. Hot water temperature shock is never mention when chilled croakers/shrimp bait goes from colder chilled livewell water to hot environmental water is 1 cast.

All live bait fishermen have seen and experienced what happens to their nice chilled bait shrimp and high dollar croaker when hooked up and thrown back into that hot summer bay water. The temperature shock caused from going from cold livewell water to hot bay water is out of sight; out of mind.

I have never seen or heard any fishing forum live bait gurus or fishermen mention or discuss hot water temperature shock as deadly and debilitating as it is. All live bait fishermen recognize how quickly their nice chilled live bait deteriorate when their croaker or shrimp is hooked-up and thrown back into hot summer environmental water.

Oh how quickly that chill croaker or shrimp gets lethargic and then dies in a blink of the eye in that hot water on the hook. Thot water temperature shock is the real never spoken downside of chilling livewell water with ice every summer that everyone knows about, but no one ever mentions or talks about this.

The bullet point is always, “Chilling hot summer livewell water will increase livewell DO Concentration” a little with no fish or bait in the livewell consuming dissolved oxygen.

Do you have any idea just how much the concentration increases according to the DO Charts when fresh water is chilled with ice from 91 F down to 81F in a hot summer day? The DO is increases 0.8 ppm, that’s less than 1.0 ppm. If your livewell water is salty (bay and Gulf water) the DO concentration change induced with hypothermia is even less, about 35% - 40% less DO concentration.

Here’s TP&WD recommendations: The negative effects caused by hot water temperature shock when the fish or bait goes from chilled livewell water back into hot environmental is never mentioned or discussed, but hot water shock is often far more deadly and kills quicker than cold water temperature shock.
Livewell Management Livewell Management (texas.gov)
  • Make sure livewells are in good condition.
    • Interiors should be free of rough or abrasive edges.
    • Standpipes, drains, and recirculation lines should not pose hazards to fish.
    • Livewells used for black basses and walleye should have a capacity of at least 25 liters.
  • Start each day with clean, washed, and rinsed livewells.
  • Fill livewells to maximum capacity. Fill them early in the day from an open-water location at the angling site. Avoid water from shallows or at sites that are crowded with boats. Watch for low dissolved oxygen levels during early morning hours on overcast days.
  • Provide continuous aeration and agitation. These features should be turned on immediately upon filling, before fish are added. Livewells should not be turned off until the end of the fishing day.
  • Keep livewell water cool.
    • If ambient water temperature is 70°F or more, maintain livewell temperature 5 to 10 degrees cooler.
    • If ambient temperature is less than 70°F, maintain livewell within 10 degrees of ambient.
    • Pumps and motors can increase water temperature; watch for this.
  • Use ice when livewell temperature exceeds 70°F.
    • Avoid cooling water too quickly. Adding small amounts at frequent intervals is better than one large block.
    • Ice from municipal water sources may release chlorine compounds into livewell, which can harm fish. Make ice from untreated water if possible. If not, boil chlorinated tap water or allow it to stand in an open pan for 24 hours before freezing.
    • Ice containing chlorine or chloramines can be contained in bottles or locking plastic bags.
  • Do not overload livewell. Five largemouth bass or walleye per well should be the maximum; less if livewell is small or fish are exceptionally large.
  • Watch chemical balance.
    • Sodium chloride (table salt). About 1/3 cup per 5 gallons is recommended, less in naturally salty waters. Add some at the start of each day and periodically throughout the day to replace salt lost in water exchanges.
    • Potassium permanganate. Add 2 to 8 parts per million to reduce organic materials, which helps maintain water quality. Available from aquaculture supply sources.
    • Clove oil. Add 25 to 120 ppm when livewells are filled.
    • Clinoptilolite or other ammonia-absorbing materials. Use 14 grams/liter to help maintain water quality, especially where continual flow-through circulation isn’t possible.
    • Never use commercial water additives unless they are in agreement with FDA and EPA regulations.

Additional information:
Oxygenation of Livewells to Improve Survival of Tournament-Caught Bass
By Randy Myers and Jason Driscoll, TPWD Inland Fisheries Division

Consider this: When you are fishing in 90 – 95 F water, keep your livewell water a couple degrees below the environmental water temperature you are fishing in and totally eliminate any temperature shock.

Just for fun, do you have any experience, thoughts, discussion about the deadly effects of fisherman induced hyperthermia (cold livewell water to hot summer bay water) on live bait croakers/shrimp or tournament fish?
 

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There are studies saying its bad and there are studies to saying it works. I can say I've never had it kill my bait, Hell we have even taken the bait out of the livewell and put them strait in a bait pen in the "hot bay water that will shock and kill the fish" and they are still alive and frisky for days or even weeks at our bay in house the the heart of summer. To each their own, I KNOW my way has worked for me. Taking the time to treat, cool and and oxygenate my livewell keeping my bait alive has never cost me catching a fish, but having all my shrimp or bait dead from the hot water in the livewell has cost me a fish so pick your venom. The B.A.S.S. has done a lot of study's on this and most of the top bass guys keep ice in the boat just to make sure they can keep the fish alive since they lose weight if the fish is weighed in dead. And yes the there is a rule if the mortality rate is to high after a B.A.S.S or FLW even they have to pay a heavy fine. One of the tournament directors was fired because of this.

Catch and release me is a company built around keeping the fish alive to be released and their scientists command ice in fresh water in the summer time. I wouldn't Put ice to melt in saltwater because it will dilute the saltwater so I add Sealed bottles so the water is the same as the bay.
 

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Too.....much......brain.

Mr. Bubbles.
Add fresh water.

I use this day in and day out with $100s of bait..... I have zero issues with bait staying alive overnight or on the hook. I will on the rare occasion when I have a lot of bait left over and another trip next day fill a 5 gallon bucket in my back hatch and change out just 5 gallons overnight in the driveway. I have so little dead loss with it sitting in the driveway overnight it is of zero concern. Its easy. Two switches. Livewell pump is on a timer and in the worst of times I have it timed to pump more frequently.

This is for upper and middle coast. You deep south guys have a different challenge at times.

I freeze nothing and add nothing. I flip two switches on when I dump bait in the tank. And I never think about it again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Too.....much......brain.

Mr. Bubbles.
Add fresh water.

I use this day in and day out with $100s of bait..... I have zero issues with bait staying alive overnight or on the hook. I will on the rare occasion when I have a lot of bait left over and another trip next day fill a 5 gallon bucket in my back hatch and change out just 5 gallons overnight in the driveway. I have so little dead loss with it sitting in the driveway overnight it is of zero concern. Its easy. Two switches. Livewell pump is on a timer and in the worst of times I have it timed to pump more frequently.

This is for upper and middle coast. You deep south guys have a different challenge at times.

I freeze nothing and add nothing. I flip two switches on when I dump bait in the tank. And I never think about it again.
Grim, your live bait care is impressive, sounds excellent and you know how to be successful!
Your summer bait mortality is zip to minimal using a Mr. Bubbles aerator and a few partial water exchanges during the day-night. Not many live baiters can boast of bait survival rates like you. Many fishermen like you also aerate their livewell/bait tank water with a Mr. Bubbles aerator and have high summer bait mortality. Many fishermen and fishing guides overstock their livewells or fail to maintain minimal safe livewell water quality and have high summer bait mortality. Clearly you are very aware of strictly limiting your stocking density and you control all the metabolic waste with partial water exchanges.
Few questions please Grim:
How do you determine your livewell stocking density for an 8 hour day trip and 4 clients fishing (croakers/shrimp)?
Do you provide live bait for your customers at no additional charge or is live bait an additional charge paid by your clients?
How much extra do you charge for an 8 hour trip using live bait croakers and bait shrimp?
Do your clients have the option of choosing what kind of live baits they want to fish with or do you make that choice for them?
If bait fishermen and fishing guides really understood the vital importance of livewell stocking density and water quality management and the oxygenating limits of their Mr. Bubbles aerator, they would have far less live bait kill/less bait cost/less bait disappointments (sloppy, sickly, red-nosed live bait) in the summer.
You know how to keep baits alive, please share more of your live bait keeping experience, expertise and knowledge with us that are far less successful keeping live bait alive than you.
Thanks
 

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Do you provide live bait for your customers at no additional charge or is live bait an additional charge paid by your clients?
How much extra do you charge for an 8 hour trip using live bait croakers and bait shrimp?
Might be difficult to stay in business offering up something that costs hundreds of dollars for free.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Still too much brain but I will try to answer.

I wing it. I guess and dump the bucket it.
Grim, are you say that all there is to keeping croakers and bait shrimp alive and healthy every day all summer is, “I wing it. I guess and dump the bucket it.” Is this the magic key to your consistent 100% successful summer live bait keeping; the magic to your consistent success 100% survival rates?

Now I’m really impressed with your live bait keeping. I know no other live bait fisherman (sportsman or commercial fishermen) that can do that consistently ever summer using Mr. Bubbles aerator, changing livewell water a couple times daily, using no ice or livewell supplements). No live bait fisherman I know can guess as good as you can and be successful 100% of the time summer after summer, year after year; only you can do that.

Thirdcoast – great point “who pays for the live bait,” the fisherman or the fishing guide? When a fisherman pays for live croaker and shrimp in addition to the charter fee. Is the charter Capt.’s responsible for keeping these high dollar live baits not just alive but healthy enough to fish with all day. If the guide does not assume this responsibility and “wings it, Guesses and dumps the bucket it” and the mortality is high (50% or >) should the customer get a bait cost refund for all the bait that died or caught the red-nose became unfishable in livewell all day? Keeping in mind that the Capt. has sole responsibility for the bait care or is that keeping those baits alive and healthy the responsibility of the paying customers? After all the customers are the ones paying hundreds of dollars for live bait for the 8 hour day charter bay trip.

I can see why most coastal charter Capt’s only allow artificial bait on the boat regardless of the fishing expertise of the customers… No Live Bait on the Charter boat, too much hassle and way to much work messing with live bait
 

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Man overrhinking it big time.

Naw several old school guides and countless tournament fisherman who squeek when they walk cuz they are so tight put me on to simple and cheap Mr. Bubbles and simple and cheap fresh new water exchange with a livewell pump timer and overflow.

And I guess you have never heard of bass fishing.. Every premium bass boat is set up the same way with some kind of pro air or bubbler and fresh water exchange. The bass guys get massive penalties for dead fish so the whole boat is designed around the livewell to keep fish alive.

Additionally these guys travel alllllll around the country to countless different lakes and areas. Some kind of simple cheap bubbler and simple cheap livewell pump is available in every town every where. If something should go wrong it is as easy as your nearest Walmart at any time of the day or night.

I like simple cheap and easy to maintain. And brainless after you dump the bucket.

And heck yea im the only one you know cuz I'm the best there has ever been ever in all the whole world ever in all the recorded history of man ever.

So silly to think that. I didn't come up with this system at all. Been around forever in bass boats and countless coastal live baiters, guides, tournament guys been doing the same.

Just sharing some experience and techniques that work exceptionally well for the average guy. Anybody can set it up in any livewell or cooler.

There are super high priced, complicated and expensive systems as you describe with oxygen and filters and they work for some people who like to big brain talk about oxygen science. Had those too in several boats. Using the two systems side by side (i have always had two or three boats at a time) i have never seen a benefit or need.
 

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The way I sees it guide pays for the bait while fisherman pays for the trip. I don’t have any business sense, but I reckon the cost of bait is included in price of the trip. Sounds like you are overthinking this one.
When you order a cheeseburger do you break down the cost of each ingredient or do you just enjoy the **** thing and wash it down with an overpriced pint of beer?
Book a trip, pay and tip the captain, then trust in their customer service (ie your bait conundrum). All this over analyzing may be keeping you from a good time.
 

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The way I sees it guide pays for the bait while fisherman pays for the trip. I don’t have any business sense, but I reckon the cost of bait is included in price of the trip. Sounds like you are overthinking this one.
When you order a cheeseburger do you break down the cost of each ingredient or do you just enjoy the **** thing and wash it down with an overpriced pint of beer?
Book a trip, pay and tip the captain, then trust in their customer service (ie your bait conundrum). All this over analyzing may be keeping you from a good time.
Amen brother. This guy is making things way too hard and definitely taking all the joy out of fishing.

But to be safe, screw the live bait and just use artificials. They actually work too…. Assuming you can use them without overthinking it 😜
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Grim – How many coastal fishing guides do you know or ever heard of that furnish live croaker/shrimp to customers at no additional charge to the customer if the customers wants to fish with live baits?

Sharing knowledge and experience is fun and educational thanks for sharing.
I believe “Bass boats are built around the livewells” too. Bass boats have promoted their livewells the last 50 years. Over 50 years they have invested millions of $ promoting their boat livewell advertisements, aerators and pumps because of the new popular tournament C&R conservation ethic. Would imagine their livewell set up cost 4 -5 K $ in the the design, size and color of the livewells, 4-5 water pumps, all kinds of switches, bells, buzzers, alarms, wires, batteries and so on). I do like their sleek looks, paint jobs and especially their speed too. There’s nothing in the world like running 85 mph across the lake in a new bass boat on a cool foggy morning with just the prop touching the water and wind in your face.

I like cheap and simple too, you definitely got that down pat and like you say, “Anybody can set it up in any livewell or cooler.” Mr. Bubbles and a couple livewell water exchanges and that’s all there is to it having consistent 100% summer livewell survival every summer.

But, you know some other vitally important things that are necessary to be so successful that you.re keeping close to your vest and not sharing with us or at best being very ambiguous about things like your bait stocking density… like, “I wing it. I guess and dump the bucket it.”

You know very well to never, ever overstock your livewell don’t you. That’s your real secret stuff. Never overstocking your livewell is your+ magic to your consistent 100% summer live bait survival success. Why tell us what took you a lifetime to learn by trials, errors and failures. The bass boat salesmen may or may not know when their wells are overstocked either and will not tell customers that information even if they know it either. What is a fisherman to do when he has reached the safe stocking in his new bass boat livewell with 3 fish in a summer tournament, quit fishing and head to the scales or catch a couple more fish, overstock the bait tank and have 1-2 fish die in the afternoon and you will get the Dead Fish Penalty and lose any chance at winning tournament $?

So Grim, tell us how many 3” croaker and quarts of bait shrimp is the maximum stocking density for a 20 gallon boat livewell and a 10 gallon bait tank please in the summer.

There is no mistaking bait mortality problems appear ever summer, every time a fisherman overstocks his livewell and many live bait fishermen around the world know all about summer livewell kills and sloppy baits caused by overstocking. Fishermen just get greedy sometimes bring too much live bait; try to pack too many live bait in their small livewells and bait tanks. Overstocking can always results in high unsatisfactory summer mortality. It only happens in the summer for some odd reason.

Someday an over-thinker will come along, figure this out and fix this summertime livewell mortality problem and every one can have 100% summer livewell survival every summer like you.

The simple under-thinking fisherman has been trying to haul live fish successfully in a box and keep them alive for the trip thousands of years and has always experienced extremely high mortality rates to date until 1 man and a few friends were over-thinking this summer mortality problem. They invented the “livewell” for boats because they were innovative over-thinkers.

Ray Scott was definitely an over-thinker. He made millions of dollars over-thinking this high summer mortality problem.

Mr. Bubbles was an over-thinker too. They have probably earned millions of $ too by simply over-thinking (reinventing) Ray Scott’s livewell aerator inventions. Mr. Bubbles was invented later. They invented, built and sold a cheap electric livewell aerator machine for bait tanks and livewells plus they added a very catchy name for their product. Their selling point was a cheap price and you could see that it made lots of air bubbles before the battery ran out of juice. Mr. Bubbles was better than no aeration at all for stagnant livewell/bait tank water. Keep in mind that the primary function of mechanical aerators is to off-gas dissolved carbon dioxide, not to oxygenate the water.

It’s hard to over-think an age old problem and discover a solution to that problem, it’s easy to under-think or just don’t think about how to solve a problem and go with the flow. The over-thinkers are the entrepreneurs that dream up the new inventions and sell them to the under-thinkers. The under-thinkers are far less motivated, not much interested in anything new in life or anything else. Like catching fish with a hand line is cheaper and easier that catching fish with a $300 reel on a $500 rod.

Thirdcoast – I don’t know any guides that will furnish live bait to customers at no additional charges near shore or offshore. Fake baits solve all the problems with live bait plus they are cheap and easy to tie on the line. Learning how to fish with fake baits effectively can be challenging frustrating for fishermen (young and inexperienced) compared to a live croaker/shad on a hook fishing on an 8 hour bay fishing trip with a guide. I have cleaned many nor specks with shad in their belly vs croaker in their belly. I believe live juvenile shad is the very best live bait to use in the summer for specks.

JKMore – If reading this takes the joy out of fishing for you, they why in the world do you follow this thread much less respond to this thread when it upsets you so badly and makes you so aggressive. Are you like this all the time of are you just having a bad hair day?
 
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