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  #1  
Old 10-04-2007, 10:42 PM
PA StriperChaser PA StriperChaser is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: S.E. Pennsylvania
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Default Keeping alewives...

The forage base on my local lake is Alewives . I have a few questions :

How big can these things get in a freshwater lake ?

What is the best method to keep them ?

It seems that whenever I catch them, they only last about two hours and the 2nd hour, they're pretty ratty looking . I've tried adding salt to the livewell, but it didn't seem to make much difference . Just in netting them it seems like they lose half their scales . What can be done ? Would a dedicated shad tank solve the problem ? Anyone use their livewell to keep alewives ? ( I keep it on a timmer and recirculate . Every once in a while, I'll bleed off some water and add fresh .)
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  #2  
Old 10-05-2007, 07:57 AM
YAZ YAZ is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Indiana
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Default Re: Keeping alewives...

Pretty frustrating isn't it !

I have found alewives easier to keep than gizzards. You will need a dedicated oval or round bait tank with a good aeration and filter system. I have kept alewives for a week in my boat tank with minimal care.

Scale loss is a issue for two reasons. One, once the scales get suspended in the water, they get caught in the bait's gills and they suffocate. Two, the scales is how the bait regulates their body water. If they loose too many scales, they dehydrate pretty quickly. This is where a good filter system comes in handy. It will remove the scales, and the solid waste from the tank.

Here is what I do to help prevent scale loss:

Fill a bucket with clean water and two cups of salt. Make sure the salt is dissolved. If you need more bait, use two buckets.

When you net your bait, empty the bait directly into the bucket, and try not to handle the bait. Dumping them on the floor of the boat, and scooping them up with your hands is certain to reduce the life of your bait.

Leave the bait in the salty water for 5 minutes, or when they start to struggle for oxygen. The extremely salty water will "purge" the bait of a lot of their waste, through pooping it out, and regurgitating it. That bucket will be filthy after five minutes. The salt will also toughen the bait so the scales stay on a little better.

Now, you can transfer you bait to the bait tank. Use a small minnow net, or your hands if they are wet. Be very gentle and don't swish the net around, or grab the baits. Lower, not drop the bait into the tank.

Your bait tank should have about one cup of salt per 20 gallons. You can go a little heavier if desired. Have some ammonia fixer on hand to add to your tank. This stuff can be bought at pet shops, or even Walmart. It will prevent ammonia from getting too high in your tank. Ammonia is actually the biggest bait killer.

If there is one piece of equipment NOT to skimp on in your fishing equipment, its your bait tank! A good tank will last a lifetime, and pay for itself in saved bait.

Yaz
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  #3  
Old 10-05-2007, 04:11 PM
PA StriperChaser PA StriperChaser is offline
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Default Re: Keeping alewives...

YAZ-

Thanks for the tips. I will try them this weekend. I use a small dip net now for transfering bait. I'll try the salt and bucket trick for sure .

If you would humor me, a couple more questions...

Any special type of salt ? Can rock salt be used ?
You mentioned your tank in the boat... is this a separate bait tank you keep in the boat or one of the livewells ? Any suggestions for using a livewell ?

I have a Stratos 21MSX - the front livewell is 16" deep and 50"wide with round ends ( it's an elongated oval) . I'm seriously considering converting this to a bait tank with filter ( I just don't have the space for a separate bait tank) . Any suggestions on how you would do this ? Thanks a bunch.

P.S. I'm still interested in the trolling depths chart/table you mentioned - whenever you get a chance.
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  #4  
Old 10-05-2007, 08:33 PM
YAZ YAZ is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Indiana
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Default Re: Keeping alewives...

Yes rock salt can be used, but it takes a while to fully dissolve. I get feed salt at the local tractor supply for $6.00/50 lb. Just make make sure it is pure, white feed mixing salt with no additives or iodine.

My bait tank is a built-in 50 gal. circular tank. As long as you do not have square corners for your bait to crowd into, yours should work. Make sure you have a good aerator. Without seeing you boat, I don't know how to plumb a filter system.

Don't crowd your bait. Most recommend with a GOOD bait tank, no more than two baits per gallon. With bigger baits like gizzards, one bait per gallon.

You can't set a 25-30 gallon tank on the front casting deck??

Thanks for reminding me on the trolling info.



Yaz
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  #5  
Old 10-05-2007, 09:37 PM
HybridHunter1 HybridHunter1 is offline
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
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Default Re: Keeping alewives...

I had this same problem back in spring while fishing on SML, VA. We could not keep a single bait alive to save ourselves. After finishing up a morning trip and taking a break from the unbearable heat during the day we went to a local bait shop and a local guide told us a hand full of rock salt and a simple aerorater. this DID work, but as mentioned in previous posts the bait lost all their scales which could have been a problem, but the conditions for our weekend trip were completely wrong for any kind of fishing, the lake was next to boiling, the barometric pressure was shot and im sure many other factors.

In the local river we have skipjack herring which are very similar to an alewife, fortunatly at this present time we can just satch one on a bait rig(sabiki) whenever we need them around the lock and dam areas so the life support equipment is not necesary.
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  #6  
Old 10-05-2007, 10:12 PM
PA StriperChaser PA StriperChaser is offline
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Default Re: Keeping alewives...

Quote:
Originally Posted by YAZ View Post

My bait tank is a built-in 50 gal. circular tank. As long as you do not have square corners for your bait to crowd into, yours should work. Make sure you have a good aerator. Without seeing you boat, I don't know how to plumb a filter system.

Don't crowd your bait. Most recommend with a GOOD bait tank, no more than two baits per gallon. With bigger baits like gizzards, one bait per gallon.

You can't set a 25-30 gallon tank on the front casting deck??


Yaz
Wow, what type of boat do you have with a built in 50 gal. tank?

Yeah, I could set it on the front casting deck, but when I live bait troll, I use the front trolling motor for power . With a bait tank up there in the center, it would make it very difficult to get around. Besides, if I make a filter system for the front livewell, I won't need it.

Since I last posted, I went to Home Depot and got a 40# bag of softener salt . It says 99.6% pure salt with the only other ingredient being trace minerals . Is that ok?
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  #7  
Old 10-06-2007, 10:05 PM
YAZ YAZ is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Indiana
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Default Re: Keeping alewives...

Quote:
Originally Posted by PA StriperChaser View Post

Since I last posted, I went to Home Depot and got a 40# bag of softener salt . It says 99.6% pure salt with the only other ingredient being trace minerals . Is that ok?
Yep! Good Luck!
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  #8  
Old 10-11-2007, 02:28 PM
YAZ YAZ is offline
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Default Re: Keeping alewives...

Hey PA,

How'd you do with your bait?? I built my bait tank in my boat. I'll try to get a pic. It's not a big boat, 1984 18'6" Ranger CC. I built the tank when I tore the boat completely down and refurbished it.

I sent you a PM with some of the requested info.

Yaz
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  #9  
Old 10-11-2007, 04:43 PM
PA StriperChaser PA StriperChaser is offline
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Default Re: Keeping alewives...

YAZ-

Thanks for the tips - they worked great!!! I made a brine solution of 4 cups softener salt to 1 gallon water . What a chore... had to boil the wter and stir the salt . That softener salt is just like big rocks of just mined salt.

Anyway when I caught bait, I put them in the bucket ... in about two minutes they started to go belly up . I thought "oh man, I'm going to lose them all!" I quickly transfered them to the tank ( which had salt and the ammonia killer in it) and to my surprise, they livened right back up . I had some big alewives in there and didn't want to lose them .

I didn't lose a single alewife all day ! I kept them overnight in the boat and to my surprise, about half made it . I used two of the biggest (7 1/2") left to hook into two dandy wipers the next morning!
I'm convinced that I need to build a filtration system for my front livewell and re-plumb it . How did you make your filter system ?
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  #10  
Old 10-11-2007, 08:56 PM
YAZ YAZ is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Indiana
Posts: 178
Default Re: Keeping alewives...

Alright PA,

Here's my bait tank and filter system.

50 gallon poly bait tank that I insulated, and fiberglassed in. It doubles as a drivers seat, and a backwards-facing seat with a grab bar in between. Note the thermometer on top and spraybar inside the tank.



This is under the back seat. The right pipe is fresh water intake. The one to the left comes from the filter. It has an air tube to introduce air into the water entering the tank. It comes into the tank below the waterline. Part of the water that comes from the filter is also directed to the spray bar. The valve at the bottom allows the water from the tank to get get to the filter. The next pipe further right is the overflow. The last item is a timer to a separate air pump that I use during transport over the road. I don't run the filter when I'm on the road.

This is my filter, a little excessive by some's standards. It works really well though. It is a two gallon bucket that fits in my bilge. The pump is a 500 gph through-hull pump. I like to keep pumps out of my tanks as much as I can. It builds up heat in the water, and it is something for the bait to bump into and loose scales. The tray inside is another bucket cut to fit, with holes cut for water to get to the pump. It stays about three inches off the bottom, and creates a reservoir of water for the pump. I place poly batting and furnace filter material in this section. The other piece you see is heavy plastic screen that I put on top, and under the inlet, to catch the large debris and most of the scales. I can run this filter for two week at a time, and only have to clean off the screen. The gunk in the bottom of the bucket is all the material that has made it past the filter this summer. Not bad!


I'll keep bait in my boat tank all week. About every other day, I will turn the valve on and filter the water for about an hour. I just put the air pump in the tank on the timer, and the bait stays pretty well.

You could make the same type of filter out of 6" 0r 8" PVC pipe, depending how much room you have.
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  #11  
Old 10-11-2007, 09:14 PM
PA StriperChaser PA StriperChaser is offline
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Default Re: Keeping alewives...

WOW!! I have to go back and re-read that and study the pictures just to understand and digest it all . That's just phenomenol . My hat is off to you, sir. Thanks for taking the time to take and post the pics . I'll likely get back to you with questions when I get to mine . I will be using the existing front livewell ( it's oval,50" wide and between 16 and 18 " deep - slopes in the center) for mine. I'm not sure of the capacity , I'll have to figure it out ... maybe 25 gal .
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