Portable Bait Tank

Does anyone use a portable bait for saltwater fishing? I have a good 35-gallon tank (made by Ron Vest) as used to keep herring or shad for fresh-water striper fishing. It injects air and filters the water which is recirculated.

My question is whether you could rig this kind of tank, to pick up raw saltwater from the transom, spray it into the tank and discharge overflow from the boat, to function like the built-in saltwater tanks.

The point would be to remove the tank from the boat when not in use, and free up that space.


I have seen it done. But I have no idea how it was done.

You ain’t drunk, till you’re Tickle drunk

23 Sea Hunt “My Last Boat V”

In theory you could have a the line coming into the spray bar from the raw water pick up. Then have a drain plumbed 1/2 way up on the outside wall of the filter side. As the the water fills up the bait side of the tank it will go through the filter side and run out of the drain.

Wellcraft V-20 sportfish with a 200 Evinrude

Capt Rick Hiott has a 30 gallon raw water well on the front of his console…

Hunter P. Hames
11’ Tarpon 100
19’ Sea Fox 125 merc

I saw it on the swim platform of a center console. but wish I knew how…

You ain’t drunk, till you’re Tickle drunk

23 Sea Hunt “My Last Boat V”

I have a 96 qt Igloo set up in front of the console on my 175 Scout. Used a plastic garden hose tee (single to double hose) that hooked up where the spray bar in my livewell was. Placed the spray bar on one side and short garden hose to cooler in front. Flow can be adjusted on either side with valve in tee. Placed nylon fitting 1/4 down from top to a short hose back to scuffers. Works great, use it alot when trout or red fishing to cull fish. Have had fish in there all day without killing them.

2486 WA Triton OX-66 250

Or, if you have a raw water washdown on your boat, you could pipe a garden hose from the rww outlet to the inlet on the bait tank and let the overflow drain overboard with a hose through the scuppers or over the side somehow.

'06 Mckee Craft
184 Marathon
DF140 Suzuki

Just curious…would it not work running it just as you would with trying to keep herring/shad alive?..or do you mean you just have the tank only and not the pump?

'07 198 DLX Carolina Skiff
FS90 Suzuki

The big question is will you need fresh circulating water while underway?

You ain’t drunk, till you’re Tickle drunk

23 Sea Hunt “My Last Boat V”

When I’ve tried to recirculate salt water and support menhaden, in a freshwater tank, there was so much foam and fish crap, the filter stopped up. So I think it best to pick up “fresh”/raw water, adn not recirculate. The discharge is no problem; it can run out on the floor and will find its way out of the boat.

It seems my tank could be converted, its just a matter of plumbing and installing a water pickup on the transom? But it’d be great to get tips on details, and not reinvent the wheel. Contacting Rick Hiott sounds like a good idea.

I saw an interesting set-up in south Texas. They catch monster trout there, using croakers for bait. And they keep a huge quantity of croakers in a small cooler, by injecting oxygen from a small O2 bottle. I don’t know about other baitfish, but croakers love it. Does anyone here use oxygen? Many ways to skin the cat.

Thanks for the suggestions. Any others will also be appreciated.


I use a 40 gal. striper/herring tank on the stern of my Bertram 28 Works well,no problems use an in line 12 V with 3/4 " outlet pump plumbed to water intake on starbord engne use 3/4" hose to side of tank and have 1/1/2" hose on top and drain it thru the scuppers, It sloshes thru the top some time in ruff water have to use a bungie cord to keep it shut The bigger drain hose realy made it better!

I have used nothing but O2 in my bait tank for about 6 years now. I use a medical regulator that has some very fine settings. I can get you a pic this weekend of my set up if you are interested.

'07 198 DLX Carolina Skiff
FS90 Suzuki

Swimmimg baits need rounded tank, so make sure you don’t have any corners.

i made this up but i think it’s true