Cooler Livewell: What It Is & How To Have One

Cooler Livewell: What It Is & How To Have One

Fishing is a fantastic hobby for many people who love nature and the outdoors (and sometimes a tasty meal). There are few ways to connect with nature as directly and serenely as with your fishing pole out on the water. However, for some, fishing is not just a hobby; it is a sport and a serious one at that.

The most serious fishermen know the importance of a livewell when they are fishing, and most of their boats contain a livewell or two built-in. Without a professional's budget, this is usually out of reach for most hobbyists. Luckily, there are plenty of easy ways to DIY a livewell.

Our favorite method is using one of our Rotomolded Hard-Sided Coolers. Here is a quick overview of livewells, why they are important, and a step-by-step guide to making one in your cooler.

What Is a Livewell?

A livewell is a special type of tank used to keep bait and caught fish alive while you are out on a fishing trip. A livewell can help you catch better fish by using bigger live bait, opening the door to deep-sea fishing.

A livewell is not a simple mechanism, however. Not only does it have to supply the fish with water, but it requires aeration as well to ensure that the fish are getting oxygen. On many professional fishing vessels, there are several large livewells to keep fish going, but you can make a relatively affordable livewell with a high-quality rotomolded cooler.

What Do You Need To Make a Cooler Livewell?

The first step to making yourself a cooler livewell is assembling all of the essential materials. You may have a few of the items lying around in your garage, but there are some items you may need to visit a fishing supply store to acquire. 

You will need:

  • A Hard-Sided Cooler: Your cooler is going to serve as the basin for the fish. Keep in mind that the size of your cooler will be your limiting factor for size. Quality and durability are key — your livewell needs to stand up to the realities of fishing. A 50 Quart Hard-Sided Cooler is an excellent option.

  • An Aerator: Your aerator is the most important piece of the puzzle. Without an aerator, your livewell is no better than a bucket. The aerator will help put oxygen into the water for your fish. Match your aerator to the size of your cooler; if your aerator isn't powerful enough for the size cooler you are using, it won't keep your fish alive.

  • Tools and Supplies: Finally, you're going to need some tools and supplies for assembly. These things are likely items you (or your neighbor) have but can be found at any home supplies store. Necessary items include a drill, a metal band, caulk, pliers, screws, and an adapter for your boat's electrical outlets.

If you've got these items, then you're ready to start building.

How To Build a Cooler Livewell

While a livewell isn't the most simple mechanism, the truth is that anyone can build one with care and attention. Even for those who aren’t the most "handy" people, following these step-by-step instructions can build a formidable livewell cooler.

Step One: Mount the Aerator

The first thing you need to do to construct your livewell is to mount the aerator on the cooler. Generally, the best spot for the aerator is outside the cooler, positioned on the upper half. Double check that the aerator doesn't block you from opening and closing the cooler.

Once you've found a good spot, mark the outline in pencil. Now take your metal band and pliers and bend the metal straps to create a holster for your aerator. We recommend you use at least one horizontal and one vertical strap, with more should you find it necessary to secure the aerator.

Once the holster is shaped you can drill in the aerator to your cooler. Using 1/4-inch screws, drill the metal bands into the cooler so that they hold the aerator securely to the side of your cooler. (Remember: measure twice, cut once.)

Step Two: Drill Air Line Holes

Now that your aerator is secured to your cooler, it’s time to drill air line holes into your cooler. Depending on your aerator, you may need more than one hole. For each air line, you will need another hole.

Make sure you are only drilling a hole as wide as your air line. You want the seal to be as airtight as possible to prevent water from flowing through.

Step Three: Caulk Your Air Lines

After you have drilled the air holes, you can feed the air lines through the holes and into the cooler. Depending on how wide you have drilled the air holes, you may or may not have to caulk the lines.

While caulking is optional, it will give you an airtight seal on your lines. If this is important to you, then you should use a caulk to secure the holes in the side of the cooler.

Step Four: Tie Down the Air Line

This step is also optional, but it will help your cooler livewell function more optimally. You can take a small section of metal band and gently secure an air line to the bottom of the cooler. This will ensure the aerator is pumping air in from the bottom and aerating the entire cooler rather than just the water on top.

Be careful not to screw through the bottom of the cooler, however. This will render your cooler livewell useless until you caulk over the hole to prevent leaking.

How To Make a Cooler Livewell: Takeaways

A livewell is an excellent addition to any fishing boat, and it doesn't have to be complicated or expensive to build one. With a few simple tools and supplies, anyone can turn a cooler into a livewell that will keep their catch fresh and oxygenated.

By following these step-by-step instructions, you'll have a functional livewell made from a cooler in no time. With a livewell, you can keep your bait and catch alive and healthy for longer. It will completely transform your fishing, and it is so simple to make one. For a high-quality cooler livewell, you need to use a high-quality cooler.

At Patriot Coolers, our coolers are built tough to withstand whatever life might throw your way. With coolers as large as 50 quarts, we have options with enough size for a highly functional livewell. Whether you need a livewell or a softpack cooler for snacks while on the lake cooler, we have exactly what you are looking for.

So, what are you waiting for? Make yourself a livewell today and transform the way you fish.



Fishing Boat Accessories: Livewells & Baitwells | Discover Boating

About Boat Aerators | Gone Outdoors

Top 10 Reasons to Go Fishing | Virginia DWR

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