Serious fishing boats like Boston Whalers usually have a livewell and often they have more than one, but using a livewell on a boat invariably means getting it messy. Fish slime and scales, bait bits, and shrimp shells not only leave behind smells and stains, they can also cause damage to the livewell’s systems by clogging pipes and jamming drains.
The first step in maintaining the system is simply cleaning the boat’s livewell after every use. After a fishing trip draws to a close, before you empty the livewell first remove any remaining baits and the detritus they may have left behind. Use your small-mesh bait net for the task, swishing it around in a circular pattern at or near the bottom of the well until all the visible bits and pieces are in the net and can be disposed of without flushing them down the drainpipe. Then, drain out the well.
Once the livewell is empty you can give it a quick scrub with a soft-bristle brush and a dedicated nontoxic livewell cleaner or a gentle soap. Even if you use the nontoxic stuff, be sure to thoroughly rinse away all of the soap or it could affect your next batch of baits. If your livewell system has a high-speed pickup, you may want to then plug the well so it doesn’t fill with raw water inadvertently the next time you head out.
Simply keeping the livewell clean and making sure baits and bait parts don’t get clogged up in the lines is the most important aspect of the proper way to use a livewell and keep it in good shape. However, since a livewell has an electrical and plumbing system, some additional maintenance is also in order. On a regular basis be sure to:
Check fittings and connection points in the plumbing for leaks, and tighten hose clamps.
Check livewell light fittings for leaks and ensure the wiring connections are secure, in good condition, and are functioning as expected.
Check livewell pump switch connections and ensure the wiring connections are secure, in good condition, and are functioning as expected.
Run the livewell once a month even if you’re not going fishing, to keep the pump impeller in good condition.
Keep up with these simple chores and your livewell will keep those baits kicking for years to come — and you can do your best to turn those little fishes into big ones fit for the cooler.
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