Tuesday, February 26, 2013

BaitKeeper 20 Gallon Livewell/ Shad Tank

The other day I started seriously thinking about buying a kit that converts a cooler into a livewell for fishing small channel catfish tournaments. My boat is a 14' modified v jon boat that has a max weight capacity around 900 pounds, so I cant afford to use up too much of my weight capacity and possibly sinking the boat. Usually I think about things for a week or so before I act on them, but this time around I went down to the local bait store to see what they had in stock. Sure enough I found a kit that had a 500 gallon per hour pump, hose, filter, and a spray head with suction cups/mounting hardware.
I started to look around for a cooler that I could use as a livewell. In a corner I found a small round tank that held 20 gallons of water. I thought to myself, I could use a round tank for keeping shad alive....something we have had great difficulty doing in the past. Shad tend to run into corners in a square tank, and end up beating themselves to death. So by purchasing this tank, I wouldn't have to engineer any contraption for a cooler to keep shad alive. I could also use the round tank for keeping crappie and bluegill alive in case I don't catch enough keepers for a meal. Although it wouldn't be large enough for channel cats, it would serve a purpose, and the fact that the aerator kit can be mounted and moved easily to a cooler for those channel cat tournaments made it even more tempting. After a few minutes of debate, and asking the guys a few dozen questions, I bought the tank with the intentions of buying a cooler down the road.
I got home and started to assemble my new shad tank. It wasn't hard, just made a few connections and mounted the submersible pump to the bottom middle of the tank. I then mounted the spray head on the top of the lid.
At this point I added water to the tank. I then began experimenting with the spray head location to determine which location would ensure the best rotation of water in the tank. I also experimented with the spray head size, 1 bar and 2 bars. I found that by reducing the spray head to 1 bar, the pressure got too high and might damage any fish that traveled near the top of the tank.
I tested the direction of flow by placing a small float in the tank and watching it as it floated around.
I found that the best location was attached to the lid at an angle that pushed the water toward the outside of the tank and then around the tank. Once I mounted the spray bar in the final position I pumped the tank out using the submersible pump. To do so I removed the hose from the spray head and tossed the hose over the edge of the tank to pump the water out.....into a cooler since I was in my garage. If I were on a boat, I would have tossed it over the edge of the boat.
I plan on adding a large in-line filter soon to filter out scales and slime. My thoughts for a filter is a 1" pvc pipe caped and filled with charcoal and cotton balls. Hopefully the 500 gallon per hour submersible pump can pump water through the filter without loosing too much pressure. I'll make a post when I get the filter put together.

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