How to Build a Live-Bait Tank for a Fishing Kayak

Welcome to the Bait Tank at IR Angler!  Appropriately, today we’ll be showing how to make a Bait Tank for your fishing kayak.


There are numerous pre-fabricated kayak bait tanks on the market, all of them good products, but if you have some free time (and like a fun project) then building a kayak bait tank may be the perfect project for you.  First, one needs to know if in fact they even need a bait tank.  Do you fish for large fish in the Ocean such as King Mackerel, Spanish Mackerel, Cobia or Sailfish?  Do you fish for inshore species such as Flounder, Redfish or Speckled Trout?  How about Freshwater fish; Flathead Catfish, Crappie or Striper?  Yes?  Hands down, you will catch more fish if you have a good, live-bait tank.

Recently I built myself a new bait tank out of a 10-Gallon, Rigid Wet/Dry Vac body that I saved from a construction trash pile.  This type of container will withstand having holes drilled in it whereas thin-walled plastics shatter under pressure.  I like that the Rigid body is round (fish swim in circles not squares) but if you do want to use an old cooler it will also work (coolers are insulated and come with a lid so that’s a plus).  For the purpose of this article I will describe how I made mine with the Rigid body, but the same process will work on a cooler body if that is what you have to work with.

• At least a 500gph bilge pump.
• Bilge pump hose
• 16 gauge wire
• On/off switch (you can use a timer switch if you want to spend the money)
• On/off hose valve
• Exterior Junction box
• Water proof wire nuts
• One or two large fittings for Overflow
• Large hose that fits the Overflow fitting
• Drill bit to match whichever size bilge hose you purchase
• 2 x 90-degree through-hull fittings (to match whichever size hose you use)
• 1 x 3-way connector that matches through-hull fitting size
• Gorilla tape
• Zip ties
Hose Clamps
• Plastic Garden Crate
• Plastic box with lid that covers the sides of the box to help with water staying out of the battery box

Okay, let’s get started!

1) Take the Rigid body and position the drain plug in a position you can easily reach it while you are sitting in your kayak seat. You will need to drain all the water out at the end of the day before coming to shore.


2) Now, drill your large drainage hole about 4” below the top of the body.  You don’t want water right at the top as it will be rocking back and forth coming over the top. Go ahead and screw the large overflow through-hull-fitting into place.


3) About 2-4” beneath the lip of the tank, and further towards the front of the tank, drill and install the top-inflow, 90-degree fitting.  This should be 6-8″ away from the through-hull-fitting you just installed.


4) Measure and cut the bilge hose so that the 3 way connector falls between the top and bottom inflow valves.

(At this point you should have the top and bottom inflow valves connected and the remaining open connection site turned towards the outside of the kayak, towards the water.)

5) Then, take the bilge hose and connect to the outside of the 3 way and allow enough hose to reach below the water line.


6) Now attach the bilge pump and, using the water proof wire nuts, connect the Negative wire directly to the battery box. The Positive wire is then
used to be wired into the waterproof box and into the switch.




7) If at this point you are happy with the orientation of all components, disconnect the hoses and apply a water sealer to the fittings and use clamps to secure them.  Also apply sealer to the wire nuts too just to be sure!  Then take Gorilla Tape (or something similar) and tightly wrap all those wires to the bilge hoses and use zip ties as needed.




8) Lastly, attach the overflow hose to the overflow valve.


9) Now the tank is complete, let’s look at the battery box next.  I took my battery to Office Depot and looked around until I found a box in which the battery fits snugly and the lid covered the just big enough to fit the wires through.  Run the wires through and tie them with overhand knots so that they don’t pull loose during bumpy rides.



bait tank king of beach from mark patterson on Vimeo.

For more information on Mark Patterson click HERE

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