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Bob Banfelder

Bob is an award-winning crime-thriller novelist and outdoors writer. "The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water" is endorsed by Lefty Kreh and Angelo Peluso~online at Amazon.

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October 01, 2013

Bags, Boxes, Buckets and Cages for De-Bait

by Bob Banfelder

Shimano's Bristol Bay Portable Live-Well Bag with Rod Holders

Approximately four years ago, Shimano sold a Bristol Bay Bag with optional live-well and rod-holder kits, which unfortunately are no longer in production today. Today the company sells only the Bristol Bay Dry Tackle Bag in two sizes: medium and large. Supposedly, the large size bag may (with the emphasis on may) be converted into the original Portable Live-Well bag. However, the company no longer carries the live-well kit for this conversion. Rather than play around with maybes and possibilities such as installing pump, spray-head aerator, overflow drain and drain plug, hose, on/off switch, clamps and gaskets, I'd strongly suggest searching the Internet for the original, complete, setup. This battery-operated Bait-Tank System, kit and caboodle, is intended to carry some serious-sized baitfish. The unit is perfect for most kayaks and small watercraft. I find it to be a truly indispensable item for the serious angler with limited space aboard his or her craft.

Made of a mustard-yellow, heavy-duty water-resistant tarpaulin material, its outer shell measures 15¾" long x 143/8" wide x 12" high. Its insulated inner case, constructed of solid polypropylene, is 15" long x 13" wide x 10½" high and holds 6¼ gallons of water. The unit will certainly accommodate scores of minnows or up to three to four adult mossbunker. When I purchased this unit new from Shimano, the MSRP ran $120 for the Portable Live-Well Bag, $100 for the Live-Well Pump and Drain Kit, and $30 for the Rod Holder Kit. This will help you determine a fair price for a pre-owned model.

Keeping baitfish alive, small or large is no problem because the live-well kit pumps 360 gallons of H20 per hour. The original kit includes a Rule bilge pump, pressure adjustable spray-head aerator, overflow drain, drain plug, 3-foot clear hose and hose clamps, gaskets, a totally waterproof Rule on/off toggle switch and boot, wiring and cable ties.

The bag is intelligently designed with an outer pocket to house the battery (sold separately). My suggestion is to purchase an Enercell sealed 12-volt/7-amp lead-acid battery from Radio Shack, which fits perfectly into the front water-resistant zipped compartment. This power source rests nestled neatly in its natural upright position. Its dimensions are 5.95" long x 2.56" wide x 3.84" high and sells for $38.99.

A few of the original bag's many design features include a removable heat-sealed top lid; a solid insulated main compartment; a clear PVC, splash-guarded, easy-access hatch cover; pre-made holes for live-well drainage; intake and discharge fittings; detachable shoulder strap; side-carrying handles; heavy-duty buckles; non-skid, non-slip PVC bottom with drain hole; and four integral rod holders to accommodate four white plastic rod tubes.

The Bristol Bay Live-Well Bag fits solidly in my Ocean Prowler Big Game Kayak; no wiggle room whatsoever. Accompanying D-rings on the bag also allow it to be lashed to the yak. Additionally, the craft's stringer bungee cords re-ensure that the unit is not going anywhere, even under rough conditions.

For small craft with a higher gunwale than found on say a sit-on-top (self-bailing) kayak, simply purchase the necessary length of flexible 1½-inch diameter swimming-pool vacuum tubing and attach it to the overflow drain elbow. Note the 3-foot blue/black length I use for my inflatable, canoe, or larger rented craft; e.g., rowboat/skiff, when I travel out of area. Just hang the tube over the gunnel for automatic discharge. For salt or fresh water, this item is a winner.

Note: As of this writing, there is a complete bag, kit and caboodle (less battery), posted and pictured on Good photos will give you a bird's-eye view. If it is still available, grab it before it's gone. If it is gone, good luck hunting. This bag is worth your time and effort, so keep searching.

Frabill Min-O2 Portable Bait Station Cooler
8-Quart Model with Aerator

For keeping minnows alive and kicking, I often carry a Min-O2 Portable Bait Station Cooler manufactured by Frabill. The Min-O2 is aptly named, for it is intended to carry minnows; nothing considerably larger. This is one of the handiest bantam items for crafts with truly limited space aboard. Compact and easily accessible, this 8-quart, 15" x 7½" x 8" portable bait station comes with attachable aerator.

Too, the portable aerator includes a built-in night-light. Two Duracell D-cell alkaline batteries power a high-volume diaphragm-drive air pump to ensure an oxygenated environment for approximately eighty (80) hours. Frabill claims that their 8-quart Bait Station Cooler "effectively sustains two to three times the volume of bait kept in standard minnow buckets." Quite important is its non-kink air hose feature. Bend or twist an ordinary line back upon itself, and kiss that bait good-bye.

The unit's features include a hard shell, double wall with molded-in poly foam insulation that keeps both H20 and live bait at a constant temperature. Its tight lip around the lid reduces spills. The unit boasts a lift-out net liner, which allows you to quickly secure a baitfish without taking a bath. You know the time wasted in trying to secure that one particular fat killifish you're after. Lift and promptly pick the winner and be done with it. No need to hunt for that minnow net that you probably misplaced to begin with. MSRP is $54.99. Redsgear ( has it for $46.29.

Frabill Flow Troll Bucket

The Frabill Flow Troll Bucket is the original design and still America's number one selling minnow bucket. I've had mine for close to fifty years. It is designed to be pulled behind a slow-moving vessel, especially one propelled by paddle, pedal or oar; for example, a kayak, canoe or rowboat. Too, it may be used when wading. Its hydrodynamic shape is weighted and balanced to keep the bucket floating with the bait door facing up. For peace of mind, I tie a short length of line between the self-closing, spring-loaded door and the top handle because I wouldn't want a crashing wave to slap against the door and inadvertently release any baitfish—although this has never happened to my knowledge. It's just a precaution I take. Newer models have an eye ring for security. Pulling the bucket through the water constantly aerates the bait. At a cost of less than $9 for this 6-quart container, it is a bargain and a very simple way to keep your killifish alive and kicking. On returning from your fishing trip, I would recommend hosing the entire unit, particularly its spring hinge, especially if used in the suds. Although the unit is made of virtually indestructible plastic, its spring is still subject to the elements of a harsh marine environment. Suffice to say, I've never had an issue with the unit in all these years. Amazing!

Minnow Traps
Galvanized Cages

The easiest and least expensive way to catch baitfish is with a minnow trap. Pictured adjacent to the Frabill Flow Troll Bucket is a lightweight two-piece, torpedo-shaped, galvanized mesh-wire unit. In short order, you will have all you need for an outing. Within the minnow family, mummichogs are a favorite of mind, especially for fluke—big fluke. But whatever I find in that trap, sometimes even an eel, I'm pretty much assured of a productive day, or evening, on the water. Live minnows create mania. The first thing I do with that two-piece minnow trap is to join one half of the section with a cable tie, functioning as a permanent hinge. This facilitates ease of handling. Next, I make sure that I purchase and have several clips on hand, for they rust out rather quickly, even after a thorough rinsing with a hose subsequent to sitting in salt water. They're the same crappy clips that attach to your chum pot, of which I've lost a couple over the years because I failed to check the clip's condition. I've tried to hunt them up in stainless steel, but to no avail. Anyhow, I change those clips at least once a season.

A trick that I use to keep attractors like bread, dog food, bacon bits, corn meal, liver, et cetera, from dispersing too quickly through the wire mesh is to place such contents in a small plastic jar with its lid top drilled with 1/8th-inch holes, then placing the container within the cage. Works like a charm. This approximate 16" length by 9" diameter trap will cost you in the neighborhood of $12.

Invest in and employ these four items, and you'll be considerably more productive—promise.

Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller Novelist, Outdoors Writer, "Gifted" College Instructor & Creator of a Unique Writing Course Guide
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Cablevision TV Show Host, Special Interests with Bob & Donna

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