You Beaut livebait tank
  |  First Published: March 2005

Sometimes you hear of an idea that’s so simple it makes you wonder why you didn’t think of it yourself – or at least wonder why you haven’t heard of it before. This was the case when Ken Duncan showed me his new livebait tank on our recent Hinchinbrook houseboat trip.

I have made a lot of livebait tanks in my time, but this one left me dumbfounded. The simplicity of the contraption was staggering. The ‘You Beaut’ livebait tank was simply a large plastic drum with a screw lid that had two cuts in it, and a few holes drilled in the side. It doesn’t get any simpler than that!

The important ingredient is the choice of plastic drum. Ken chose a 25-litre bulk wine container (it meant he got to drink the contents first). However, any plastic drum which has a screw lid, and which hasn’t contained toxic chemicals, will do the trick. You don’t want to kill the bait or have them smell of anything that will drive away your target species.

Ken’s tank has a reasonably narrow opening, but you can easily make it bigger if you like. It’s simply a matter of making the cuts wider once you have cut through the thread of the screw top. It could be as wide as the full side of the drum if desired.

Ken used a jigsaw to cut his opening. It’s probably the pick of tools, but anything that will cut soft plastic will suffice.

Start by cutting vertically down the screw top with two cuts that are about 1/4 to 1/3 of the circumference apart. When you reach the bottom of the screw, turn the blade out towards the corner of the drum for as far as you want, depending on the size of the opening flap that you’re after. It would be best to draw the lid on the drum with a felt pen before you begin to cut.

To operate, you just screw the lid off and fold the flap open to access the bait inside. It would be worth attaching the screw top lid to a length of cord so it doesn’t fall over the side when taken off.

After you’ve cut the opening, all that’s left to do is to drill a few holes about 8mm to 10mm in diameter in the side so the water will drain when lifted out and circulate when in the drink. The key factor here is to determine how much water you want remaining in the bottom of the drum when it is removed from the ocean. The more water left in the bottom, the longer the container will keep bait alive when transporting them from capture point to fishing location, but the heavier it is to lift over the side of the boat or carry. How quickly you want it to drain when you lift it out of the water will also dictate the size and number of holes drilled in the sides above the internal water line.

To keep the fish alive for ages simply fold the flap back to its original place, screw the lid on and toss it over the side, attached to the boat with a length of cord. How simple it that?

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