Ice Fishing Tips -Check your local regulations! > Ice Fishing Live Baits and Plastics

Keeping minnows outside overnight or longer

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esox_xtm:
Often I have minnows to take home at the end of the day. I used to keep 'em in the basement in a tub and they were fine... Until I took 'em fishing again. Because the water got much warmer than lake water, mid to high 50s, I had trouble with bait temp shocking in the hole. Started keeping 'em in the basement walk in where it was much cooler but usually not freezing. Better.

Now I'm much farther north, no protected basement walk in, frigid garage is my only other choice. Everything freezes, water, aerator, minnows... everything. I tried using one of those cheapie reflector lamps with a heat bulb. It did OK but sometimes I got it too close to stuff. Melted aerator, tubing, wrinkled the side of a plastic bucket. Not a good solution.

I started looking at other options. Had to keep water as cold as possible without freezing, melting anything, controlled would be ideal. Heating pads, blankets, wraps, that kind of stuff. Then I started looking at aquarium heaters. Looked to be exactly what I wanted but most temp controllers did not have a range that would keep water from barely freezing. Almost all were designed for maintaining a tropical temperature.

Kept looking and found one. Temp controller and heating rod for just under $50. First impressions: It took about 20 minutes to bring 5 gallons from 32 to 36F (my setpoint). The controller shut off right at 36 and the residual heat from the element coasted the water temp to 36.3 before it started to cool. I got cold and went inside but it had not turned back on 35.5. I'm guessing at 35 it kicks back on again. Every time I looked at it over the at next 48 hours it was between 36.3 and and 35 something. Pretty good control. And the underside of the lids was a frozen sheet of water  ;D

Outside temp was only 20 overnight to 32 daytime so not much of a test. Next week we get single digits, couple nights below 0 with some days into the teens. We'll see how that goes.

I know $50 sounds like an expensive solution but dead minnows add up. Keeping bait "hole ready" is huge and I'll be there till I tip over. Ain't gonna get any warmer regardless of what that Al Gore guy says. Going forward it'll be a 50 quart (or so) cooler with easy drainage for water changes. Bet it pays for itself in minnows by the end of next year.

I'll keep ya posted.

Luckydog:
Sounds like an interesting solution.  Can you please provide a link for the heater? My solution has been to keep my aquarium aerator running at all times in an insulated cooler.  It didn't really work too well when the temps hit single digits.

esox_xtm:

--- Quote from: Luckydog on Dec 23, 2020, 12:44 PM ---Sounds like an interesting solution.  Can you please provide a link for the heater? My solution has been to keep my aquarium aerator running at all times in an insulated cooler.  It didn't really work too well when the temps hit single digits.

--- End quote ---

I tried that and all it did was pump cold air in freezing the stone and then it all went to Antarctica... Tried putting the aerator in a warm spot and that didn't help when temps got down in single digits.

Tonight were supposed to get down to 6F with -20F wind chills. It'll be an ice making devil  ;D  My minnies are out of the wind but in a 5 gallon bucket (for now) and otherwise uninsulated. I'll repost here over the next few days how this goes. I may have to raise the setpoint to keep things liquid but maybe not. I really do like my bait good an cold going out on the ice. Nothin' worse than tossing a shiner in the hole only to have them go belly up due to temp shock.

Second Gen storage will be a 50 quart (about 12.5 gallons and well within the heating capacity of the 100W unit) cooler plumbed for easy drainage. If this works, I'll be able to hold a good bit of bait and change water easily.

Here's the link: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B07HGV7VRW/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

DowneastPescador:
I use a plastic tote, like a sterilite, I wrap it in blue foam I think 2 inch. Then I build a plywood shell around that. I place it on top of another sheet of foam to insulate it from the ground and also tape foam to the lid. Then I use an aerator suspended in the water. If the stone touches the sides or bottom it will freeze to it. On single digit nights it will ice the top which I break away easily. The water is extra cold in there so when they go down the hole I hardly ever have to deal with shocking. Since I had all the materials lying around it didnít take me more than a few hours to set up.

Luckydog:
Thank you for the link.

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