Throughout Florida waters, live bait fishing is by far the most productive method of enticing a wide variety of both inshore and offshore species. Even the most life-like lures and best rigged dead baits can’t compare to the natural movement and appeal of shiny, frisky ‘livies’.
It’s no wonder so many hardcore anglers spend so much valuable fishing time catching and even purchasing as many live baits as possible when preparing to compete in major events. It’s not uncommon for crews to invest two or three full nights in pursuit of baitfish. Some even spend hundreds of dollars and reserve hundreds of baitfish from local ‘bait-boats’ weeks in advance. Either way, keeping pre-tournament baits alive for extended periods of time requires one of two things. A large, sufficiently aerated, dock mounted live-well. Or option two, a simple, inexpensive bait pen. Most often, bait pens are utilized by serious anglers and professional guides who need large holding cages to take advantage of storing excess live baits.
Extremely lightweight, strong and durable, the following instructions are for a standard size oval shaped bait pen, ideal for residential docks and marina slips. (Check with your marina for their policy on storing bait pens in private slips.) The rounded corners in this oval well eliminate bait cornering, ensuring your baitfish remain calm and happy. One of this pen’s greatest attributes is the huge filling and dumping door. My experience has proven this bait pen is capable of comfortably holding hundreds of baits and keeps them frisky for long periods of time. The only downfall is you need substantial current fl ow. Without it, baits may meet their demise in only hours rather than days.
CUT ALL PIECES
MAKE TOP AND BOTTOM RINGS
Take 2 - 4’6” sections of tube and join together using 2 ends splices. Glue with silicone and let dry. Make 2 rings. (Some may choose to reinforce the pen by adding two vertical tubes. To do this, use T instead of the end splices and add tube to length needed.)
MAKE BASE CYLINDER
Take the ends of the 9’ mesh section and join together with the rings forming a cylinder. Make sure to keep the mesh tight around the rings to avoid warps. It may be helpful to do the bottom ring first. Use tie-wraps to secure.
ADD TOP & BOTTOM
Add the top and bottom sections to the pen. Secure with tie-wraps THEN trim off excess mesh.
Use the 2 - 3’1” sections and 3 - 1’ sections and assemble as shown. Silicone all the joints and let dry.
ADD DOOR TO PEN
Using the door as a template, place on top of pen and cut-out the opening for the door. Make sure that the opening is SMALLER than the door, otherwise the door will fall through the opening. Use cut-out section to cover door. Secure door LOOSELY with tie-wraps.
These instructions were created keeping the budget under $25. They were all
purchased at a local home store such as Home Depot (Mesh SKU#504304) Larger
pens can be created using additional materials. If you want help in calculating the...
COMPLETED BAIT PEN
|BILL OF MATERIALS
1x 1/2” Hard Mesh Roll (3’x15’)
2x Pool Noodles
4x 3/8” Flex Conduit (8’ea)
2x 3/8” T-Fittings
2x 3/8” 90” Elbows
4x 3/8” End Splices
1x Silicone Glue
30x Tie Wraps
Diameter 2’10” 34”
Volume (ft) 19.27 cubic ft
Volume (gal) 123 gallons
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