Live Bait And The Theory Of Aeration
by
Dave "Nugget" Downie

If someone handed you a brown banana or a piece of steak that’s sat on the kitchen sink all day, it would hardly get your taste buds dripping. You probably wouldn’t consider eating it even if you were starving hungry.
 
Now relate that to presenting a live bait to a big fish. The better condition, fresher, and as a consequence, livelier the bait fish is, the more chance there is of it being smashed by a predator.
 
While most anglers talk about the size of the hook, its placement, or the breaking strain of the line, I’ve discovered there is one aspect that is often overlooked. The condition of the live bait before you use it. It has more impact on your live baiting success rate than anything else.  The question you ask is ‘how do I improve the condition of my live bait?’ To answer this I had to do a lot of research into the air and space needs of an average bait-fish and come up with some startling facts.
 
You do not need a large volume of water to keep a large number of bait-fish alive and you do not need to move large volumes of water through the tank to keep them healthy.
 
If you have ever seen kids at a rock concert you will realize that even humans can live in a sardine environment as long as they are supplied with sufficient air. In fact we can survive in a ‘no atmosphere’ environment as long as we have that crucial element, sufficient air.
 
Now the question is ‘how do we supply fish with sufficient usable air’. If you watch with an inquiring mind the typical goldfish bowl aerator that blows bubbles into a fish tank you have to ask yourself ‘how the hell do those big bubbles that float immediately to the surface have any effect on the quality of the water’. The simple answer is they don’t. Well, very little anyway.
 
The facts are that the smaller the air bubble the slower it will rise to the surface and the more time it has to dissolve into the water.
 
Let me explain that in more detail. A large 20mm air bubble has a volume of 4.19 cm3, and a surface area of 12.6 cm2. You could make 260 small 3mm bubbles from that large bubble and they would have a total surface area of 83.6 cm2. This is 6.6 times the surface of the 20mm bubble. You could make 260 small 3mm bubbles from the large bubble. The small bubbles, can theoretically aerate 6.6 times as much water with the same amount of air.
 
Knowing the importance of air bubble size, the effectiveness of different aerator systems becomes readily apparent!
 
Having tried all manner of live well aeration systems, I came to the conclusion that every system fell far short of my expectations.
 
The spray bar system that I have been using for several years forces water onto the surface of the tank and in doing so can damage delicate species like herring. It also tends to cause foam to build up, depending on the quality of the water, sometimes it foams up worse than my washing machine.
 
The through hull bilge pump I used to have was fine as long as my boat was in the water and the water quality was reasonable. I stopped using this system because I quite often caught my bait at one location then trailered the boat to another place to fish. By the time I got there the bait was looking very sad.
 
Being a permanent fixture limits its effectiveness, as I often use a portable esky to transport my live bait when land based fishing or travelling to freshwater dams.Experience has proven that the little air pumps that are available are next to useless because of the size of the bubbles they produce.
 
So, after all the research it became apparent that the ideal live bait aerator would gently inject micro fine bubbles, preferably released to cause a gentle circular current within the tank at about one to two miles per hour.I knew that anglers all over the world would be having similar problems so decided to start asking question of my American fishing mates as to what they use.
 
I know keeping fish alive in tournaments is a major consideration over there as well as live bait, if there was a better system they would know about it.

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It has taken almost six months but now it’s here! The best live well aeration system in the world - bar none!
The unit is called a KeepAlive Oxygen Infusor and to see it in operation is a revelation. Oxygen is infused at the pump impeller, chopped into millions of micro fine bubbles then gently released into your live bait tank or esky.
There is also a regulator that allows you to adjust the amount of air to water mix. Because of the density of salt water the mist of bubbles is more obvious in salt water than fresh, even though it is as effective in either.
 
In testing the unit I’ve caught hundreds of herring in my cast net and dropped them into the live bait tank.
Some were floating upside down when they first hit the water and within minutes were literally jumping out of the tank!
 
The most popular model used by tournament angler in the states, the KA460, is equipped with suction cups to secure it to the bottom of your container as well as an air tube and regulator that is designed to clamp on the top of your live bait container. The unit is designed around a Rule bilge pump and incorporates a water intake filter and comes with battery clamps for easy connection.
 
For those anglers that already have a Rule 360 pump, a conversion kit is available to covert it to a KeepAlive Oxygen Infusor.
 
After extensive use I can say that if KeepAlive can’t keep it alive – nothing will!

 

Bibliography

Statistical Information - Bob Heideman, President of Aquatic Eco-Systems,Inc.,

Facts and figures – KeepAlive Oxygen Infusors Tampa Springs Florida

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