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Bait management is a crucial consideration

I was torn this week between a two different of topics. One topic is of

course, early season ice out crappies and sunfish.

The next, is preparation

for managing your bait for the upcoming season. Bait management considerations is a timely suggested topic from my buddy Tom.

The fact that we are still iced up as I write this leads me to focus on bait management for the upcoming season.

By next Sunday we should have been ice free for a few days and talking about chasing crappies and sunfish will be perfectly timed.

I hope!

If you didn't dial in a system last summer for taking care of your minnows and leeches, you will want to figure out what will work this year.

You can not transport lake water due to all the challenges to manage the spread of invasive species.

The days of the old "float and troll" in the water, put the bucket in the boat, jump lakes and throw the bucket in, and float and troll again are gone.

Lake water pumped into live wells and bait well need to be drained. If you are going to save your minnows you will need to

transfer them into a container of well water.

You will also need to make sure you drain your bilge. Many of you are highly creative and will figure out something that works.

There are many buckets on the market now that are insulated and have self contained aeration systems. They many of the pumps can run on batteries, plug into 12-volt chargers, or plug into 110 with D.C.-converters.

Most of the commercially sold buckets are available in the

$40-60 price range. You can, of course, build your own. John Store, owner of

Quality Bait, built a great unit for the boat out of a cooler with a small

rechargeable 12v battery attached that runs the aerator pump.

His is complete

with a pull handle for ease of transport. Other strategies have included

keeping a large cooler in your vehicle with iced well water so you can

transfer your left over minnows for keeping.

Some anglers have purchased extra airbags of water from the bait stores, kept them in coolers, and

transferred bait to the fresh water at the end of the day.

Remember, any

time you change lakes you need to address your live well, bait well, bilge,

and bait issues. This is also a good time to remind you to inspect your boat

and trailer and remove all aquatic vegetation every time you leave the


Many anglers have been using leech bags in live wells to keep leeches fresh and active. You will need to transfer these into fresh water containers as well. Leeches can be kept in water containers in your cooler with out worry.

When you change the water on your leeches, which needs to be

done at least every other day, use well water.

If you freshen up your

leeches during the day with lake water you will need to rinse them and put

them in fresh water.

Some of the considerations may seem like a hassle at first, but once you

develop a system for yourself it will become second nature.

We can hang on

to our valuable and sometimes expensive live bait and practice good lake


I use some artificial bait in some situations, but I am a die hard live bait guy and can continue to be one by making some adjustments.

You can too.