Make your own livewell out of a cooler for fishing.

Live well kit for a cooler

A typical livewell kit with fairly Easy installation.

How to Make a Livewell Out of a Cooler for Fishing

We all have those days when you are really excited to go out fishing for bluegill, you are  planning to have a feast of fillets when you get home. But when you get home you realize that the last thing on earth you want to do is clean bluegill. Sometimes you have big plans in the morning to load up the cooler with those bluegill. You catch a few and throw them on ice, not really considering that you might not catch that many more. Sure enough, they hit really well when you got on the lake, but it tapered off really fast for whatever reason. Now you stand there, admiring the cooler with 4 dead bluegill in it; wondering why you killed them. You probably will barely scrape a meal out of them, it surely isn’t worth dirtying up the kitchen for just a few fish.

Using a fish basket can help you with your problem. You can buy them really cheap. Hang it off the side of your boat and put the bluegill in it. If it turns out you don’t catch enough to eat you can easily release them unharmed. Bluegill fillets will get mushy quickly if you don’t take care of them. These fish baskets work pretty well, but they are not perfect. You will have to bring the basket into the boat when you are driving around looking for fish. The Livewell will be a much better alternative.

Making a Livewell for Bluegill or Bass Fishing

Back in the days before I had a bass boat and a built in livewell, I used to enjoy fishing from my aluminum boat in small local

tournaments. I was able to keep 5 bass alive in just a homemade cooler livewell for the entire day. They are easy to make and the parts can be purchased for very low cost. On hot days you will have to either add ice to the cooler, or on occasion pump in fresh water. If the water gets too warm it will not hold enough oxygen for the bluegill.  There are a couple ways to make this contraption. They make some really nice livewell kits that cost about 20 dollars and can be installed easily, or you can buy those same parts for slightly less and make your own custom livewell. I will be going over the installation and benefits of the “kit”, because it is a lot easier to assemble. The price difference between a kit and home made rig is not significant.

When I made mine, I opted to not use the provided suction cups. It seems unlikely they would stay in place for very long. I screwed the pvc tube brackets directly into my cooler.

How to make a livewell kit for bluegill and bassYou can sort of get the idea from the picture on the right. You will need to leave the pump and tube free, so you can remove it to put it in the lake to bring in fresh water to your fish.  Below you will find a youtube video that shows a “custom” way to make your own.  The Main point of this post is to encourage people to keep fish alive while you are fishing. That way if you decide you don’t want to mess with cleaning the bluegill,  they won’t potentially go to waste.

Note: I did not make this youtube video. I have included it for your convenience. 

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