Portable Livewell (this Is to Keep Your Fish Alive When You Go Fishing)




Some larger boats have them built in, it's to keep your catch alive till you get to the shore or home. This is a portable livewell is made from a cooler on wheels. If you don't have a livewell in your boat or if you want to take it in a different boat.

Step 1: Stuff You Need...

Get a big cooler on wheels, A 60 quart cooler is best it will give you lots of space for the pump hose and aerator strip.

1- 60 quart cooler with hinged lid
1- Bilge pump, 500 - 800 GPH
1- 36" piece of 3/4" plastic hose
1- 18" piece of 1/2" PVC pipe
1- 1/2" PVC cap and 1 elbow
1- Pack of industrial velcro
1- 12 Volt car adapter or clips
1- 6 foot extension cord or longer

Goop if needed and tools to complete job.

Step 2: Installing the Pipe (aerator)

Draw a line on the pipe and drill 1/8" holes about 1" apart, 12 holes so you get sufficient aeration and pressure in the pipe, this will inject tons of tiny bubbles into the live well. More is better. Install the end cap and the elbow, no need to cement these in place. If the pipe gets cloged you can take the cap off to clean it. Add velcro to the pipe to secure it to the back of the cooler.

Step 3: Pump Installation

The pump can be left in the bottom of the cooler but I decided to velcro it in the bottom of the cooler so it would not move around. Now I added a 6 foot extension to the pump and then wired the 12 volt cigarette lighter plug-in, but you could just add batterie clips.

Step 4: Finishing Up

Now that the wiring is done and the spray bar and the pump are in place attache the hose to the elbow, fill it with water and try it out. (add fish if needed) The hose is a little long so I will need to shorten it. That is about all that is needed for a portable live well.

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    10 Discussions


    3 years ago

    I made one of these, and I'm stuck on something. Shouldn't fresh water be sucked in from the water your fishing from or does the bilge pump create oxygen that keeps the fish alive?


    6 years ago

    Great idea and it is exactly what I would like to have my new tinny.
    One thing I guess you could take the bilge pump and stick it in the lake and suck up as much fresh water as you need and then stick the pump back Velcro in place


    6 years ago on Introduction

    You can buy a system at your local SuperStore now that is exactly what you've built here. You should have patented it. That system has you drop the bilge pump in the water to fill and drain the bucket. If you have a smallish boat (I have a 15 footer) and lack a trimming assembly for your outboard, you can also use this system to trim the boat and help you plane out.

    This may seem like a stupid question but let's say that you're using this to hold caught fish, would there be any risk of them chewing through or disconnecting the extension cord running to the pump if it's submerged in the water? Also, has anyone tried taking this out shore fishing? I ask because I'm not sure if it's feasible to roll the contraption down a mile of woody shoreline.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I bring a little bucket with me, I have been thinking of getting a collapsable or folding pail...


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    It should work, if you have a battery in you boat. I've had a couple of crappies in it, but the most fish I had was a load of cat fish, the water got dirty but they held up fine.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Excellent work! I think I'll build one for when I'm not in the boat. A bucket of dead minnows in my wife's truck always gets a negative reaction!

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Sounds great, Great for bait, I'm thinking of catching some crawfish and I'm going to put them in the well.