How to Keep Bass Alive in a Livewell of a Boat when Fishing



Jon Henry is passionate about taking care of his fishery and the bass. He wants more people to be educated on how to keep bass alive in a livewell in the hotter summer months.

This is a very exhaustive discussion on how he keeps a livewell cool, aerated and his bass calm and healthy while in there.

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50 thoughts on “How to Keep Bass Alive in a Livewell of a Boat when Fishing

  1. I have fished in lakes and rivers that were very deep for years and i have only had 2 fish die in my live well, but i have never put ice in my well. I have always just let the water circulate and my live well water NEVER gets hot, even when its 100°f out i just let the water circulate and it stays cool all day long, no ice needed. I have also found that while it’s true that the deep lake/river water is pretty cold, by the time i hook the fish and it swims all around in the surface water fighting me it gets pretty acclimated to that surface water temp so by the time i reel him in pull him up into the hot air and get the hook out he is very well use to that warm temperature and will be perfectly comfortable in my live well. My live well never gets hot it stays the exact same temp as the surface water which is the temp the fish will be use to by the time he swims up to take your bait, gets hooked, swims around in the surface water fighting, gets reeled in and unhooked. You have to remember that you aren’t instantly pulling the fish from the cold deep water and putting him in the live well within a few seconds. It’s gonna be well over a minute from the time that he leaves the deep till the time he is in the well and it seems kinda mean to let him be use to the cold then pull him up to the surface and make him acclimate to the warmer water and then right when he is just getting re adjusted to that temperature drop him in to that cold ice water. Atleast when he takes your bait he is able to swim from the cold and gradually get into the warm water but if you have ice cold well water then he is going to be instantly plunged from the warm water he just got use to into the ice water. The way i do it the fish swims to the surface to take the bait which allows him to gradually get warmer and warmer and then when i take him out and put him in my well he is already adjusted to the warm water and can just stay in the same temperature environment instead of instantly being put back into the cold water making him go from cold water gradually into the warm and then right back into the cold water without time to adjust or anything. In my opinion the way i do it, while in my well he is in warmer water than he was in at first but he is able to adjust to that warmer water for a few minutes and then he can just stay at that temp. But the way you do it is causing the fish’s environment to change from cold to warm gradually (which is fine) and then back into ice cold water very fast (which is bad) by the way even though the deep water is cold it is not ice cold your well is taking fish from cold water to warm water and then in to very cold water. Mine is just taking fish from cold water gradually into warm water and thats it. The fish doesn’t have to change temperature 2 times drastically like that. It’s not necessary and you are putting your fish at a much higher risk of temperature shock than you need to. My water never ever gets hot, i have a constant supply of fresh oxygenated water flowing in and my fish only have to gradually change temperature once and my fish have always stayed alive and well. I understand that yours stays alive and well too but it can’t be because you keep your water cold. Because i keep my water warm and they still live. If you’re fish were dying without the ice then there must have been something else going on. All I’m saying is you do not need ice in your live well to keep your fish alive. I have never used ice and i have only have had 2 fish die in the well, ever. So if i can keep fish alive with out ice and you can keep them alive with ice then we know that ice has nothing to do with keeping the fish alive and i know that my well stays cool enough for the fish to be fine with out ice as long as i allow it to circulate. But if that works for you then thats cool i just thought i would tell you that you don’t have to do that to keep them alive cause i never have. But you do whatever you want. Btw, the water i fish in is very deep in some places and relatively deep in others just in case any one was thinking that mine worked without ice because i only fished in shallow water but thats not the case at all.

  2. When using an Oxygenator, do not add salt or salt containing additives to the livewell. Only G Juice is recommended by T & H, makers of the Oxygenator. Salt, NaCl, will be split to Chlorine and will kill your catch. Also, unless you have a poor battery, I would run your aerators on continuous, not timed, in hot weather.

  3. Awesome video. Quick comment about difference between bubbler and oxygenator. Bubbler cools the water because the bubbles(being too large to dissolve in the water)break the surface. It is the breaking/movement of the surface that cools the water due simply to quicker evaporation. The faster the water evaporates the cooler the water gets. This is why easiest way to cool water even up to 10 degrees is run a fan accross the top. It is the quicker evaporation of water that actually cools the water and this is done by surface movement. That can be done by fan, or bubbler. The oxygenator actually dissolves oxygen into the water therefore increasing the oxygen levels in the water. The bubbles are so small that they quickly dissolve in the water before hitting the surface. So this does not as much cool the water but adds oxygen. Now keep in mind the cooler the water the more oxygen will be in the water so surface movement will help not only with cooler water but more o2 in the water. Just wanted to clear up the difference between the two methods. I have fish tanks at home.

  4. Ammonia builds up quickly, especially if the fish are bigger. Best practice, is to do water changes, every week….Why wouldn’t you want to flush old water and add new fresh water!? Balance the bio load and never add chemicals. That’s from an aquarium pet store, people who specialize in keeping fish alive.

  5. Great video! Just as a point of contingency, typically its not an air pump and stone in boats. Usually the device uses electrolysis (adding electricity to a water molecule to force it to split) to separate the water from its molecular makeup (H2O) to is basic atomic state of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. So its using the water in the livewell to introduce oxygen and hydrogen atoms into the water. In no way, shape, or form, a ding against the video. Super informative!

  6. I use the VENT concept, hydrogen peroxide and about noon a couple of small bottles of frozen water…ZERO dead during summers unless an abnormal deep hook set or gills ripped which have not happened for years…

  7. I think…eventually…all major tournament circuits will adopt something similar to Major League Fishing and weigh the fish on the spot with a boat official on each boat. You can still keep size limits in place to make it interesting and more challenging.

  8. Great video. I just got my first boat that actually has a live well. Mine does not have a re circulation pump so I may add one later, but great info about keeping them cool. I have bass fished in south Louisiana all my life and we just used those baskets that you toss in the water and I always thought they were just barely better than a stringer at keeping fish alive. I live in New Mexico now and it gets really hot here. My boat is an aluminum hull and I noticed the lid to the well gets really hot later in the the day, I don't know how the lid is on your glass boat, but a more permanent option for the hot days instead of the towel, I am going to try gluing a piece of foam insulation to the inside of my lid.

  9. I understand he's a tournament guy but with all the phones and scales out there I do not agree with hauling fish around all day miles away from where fish were caught . If fish wants to move let them move I'm glad they don't kill all the fish like they did when all this tournament craze started with B.A.S.S. I did not agree with killing fish then either but at the same time guess I did want to eat every fish I caught. All that wore off pretty quick when I had to clean them and I can say I still dont like to clean fish! I do however still love to catch fish but more rewarding to me unhook and look then release as fast as I can so just like the tournament guys I can catch the next one. Guess my point is these guys and I dont include all tournament anglers are pros so even if not pro a short time to weigh photo release does not seem that bad to me. Very few fish kills this way and if I'm not mistaken fish seem able to migrate on their own to water they prefer not wherever weigh in is located and they have to deal all the stress of even the best livewell the world has ever known then have to deal with unfavorable water conditions after release. Last time I saw a launch at a tournament no one fished there. But I've seen alot of dead fish after after weigh in and alot of good producing areas go down. Own the other hand thanks to catch and release I've seen areas produce good fish and numbers on a regular basis. But I'm not interested in weighing every fish I catch nor am I worried about photos of fish streching my line is fine with me. I know some may say fish where there are no tournaments are held and my response to that is unless they own the water I and every one should be able to fish public waters. And I'm not stressing or killing near as many fish. Last of rant please dont litter dont throw line in water be good sportsmen or sportswomen [ just use ethics ]

  10. I just wanted to give some clarification on the oxygenator… It's not a bubbler. It's far better and doesn't add heat to the water. Here is a quote from their pager.

    How Does The Oxygenator Work?
    First and foremost, the Oxygenator is not a bubbler.
    Bubblers or aerators draw in ambient air (the air you and I breathe) and pump it through a diffuser into the water. This ambient air contains only 20.9% Oxygen. These bubbles are usually so big that they quickly travel to the surface and escape back into the air. Since these air bubbles are not in the water very long, the oxygen is not dissolved into the water. As a result, you have an inefficient way of increasing the oxygen content in the water.
    The Oxygenator works by scientifically splitting the water molecule (H2O) into its separate elements; Hydrogen and Oxygen. The Hydrogen bubble rises to the surface and escapes back into the atmosphere, while the 100% pure microscopic Oxygen bubble can’t break the surface of the water and escape, thus quickly dissolving in the water and increasing the Oxygen level in the water.
    These bubbles are so small they look like smoke coming off of the emitter. The fish’s small blood vessels in their gills are able to quickly absorb this pure Oxygen. The result is quick recovery and a super saturated oxygenated environment for captive fish, even on the hottest of days.

  11. Brilliant video Jonathan! Learned an amazing amount of critical information. He's a great presenter and you guys should definitely use him again for other really great topics that are usually glossed over in many "pro" videos. Great work WIred2Fish!

  12. What if the fish is not out of cold water ? I just fished a small body of water and the deepest it was in the whole place was 10ft and the water temp was in the high 70's and the water is clear. Great Video The soda method is crazy but good to know.

  13. The absolute best way to keep fish alive is simple.

    1. Install VT2 vent
    2. Install fresh water pump
    3. install aerator
    4. At the start of the day empty bag of ice and top off live well and add a small amount of please release me or some similar product.
    5. Once a fish is caught turn on your aerator and keep it on until weigh in. Do not pump in anymore fresh water unless absolutely needed.

    Follow those steps and as long as there are no gut hooked fished they will all survive comfortably.

    Note: if you do not have an aerator installing VT2's and pumping in freshwater intermittently throughout the day can get it done as well.

  14. Great video for the tournament angler! Summertime tournaments can be very tough on the fish, but with a little forethought and care they can be released just as healthy as they were when they were caught.

  15. great video great tips I've never done that with my Ranger but I will try this year check out my knife videos and soon to come fishing hunting and whatever else comes along videos and subscribe please thanks

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