Let’s talk livewells: what should you do with them?

Cartoon illustration of fish in a live well Illustration by Taylor Kristan

Many aluminum fishing boats have livewells (for holding live bait or caught fish) that get water from the lake via pumps and hoses and through-hull fittings. It’s important to inspect this rigging because through-hull fittings exit the boat beneath the water line; a hose failure or a cracked pump housing will pour water straight into the bilge for that sinking feeling.

If your boat is getting long in the tooth, you should strongly consider replacing these hoses.

What should I do if I don’t use my livewell?

Another option, for cottagers who don’t use their livewells, is to detach the connections entirely. An easy fix, one that doesn’t involve epoxy or aluminum welding, is to remove the old hose from the through-hull connection, which will reveal a barbed plastic fitting inside the boat. Slip a short length of new hose over the barbed fitting, and secure it with two stainless steel hose clamps. Then seal off the other end with a plastic plumbing plug and two more clamps.

If you have two same-sized through-hull fittings, connect them with one piece of hose, double clamped at each end. Water will flow in and out of the hose, but not into your boat. Bonus: these fixes are easily reversible if you sell the boat or decide you need functioning livewells again.

This article was originally published in the May 2022 issue of  Cottage Life magazine.

Check out how it feels to go fishing at dawn. 

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