3 Best Portable Live Bait Wells

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Hey there my fellow fishing enthusiasts and welcome to my post where I will discuss my 3 best portable live bait wells to keep them swimming this year. Live bait generally provides a high chance of success for many species however keeping them alive whilst we fish can sometimes be a challenge.

And whilst many deep sea fishing boats have them installed, it is other times where we may need to look at another option such as portable tanks as these allow you to keep your live bait alive and kicking until they are needed. So for those of you looking for a good portable live bait well, let’s check out some options I have come up with below…

My three recommended live bait wells

I will review these in more detail below however if you just want to get moving without all the carry-on, my recommended products are listed here for your convenience:

 Live Bait WellsPriceGet it
best live bait tanks - Marine Metal Products Plastic Bucket & Pump KitMarine Metal Products Plastic Bucket & Pump Kit$CURRENT PRICE
best live bait tanks - Frabill Magnum Bait StationFrabill Magnum Bait Station$$CURRENT PRICE
best live bait tanks - Engel Portable Insulated Live Bait Fishing Dry BoxEngel Portable Insulated Live Bait Fishing Dry Box $$$CURRENT PRICE

What are live bait wells?

Bait wells, also called bait tanks, describe a container with built-in tanks, filters, and hoses that function to circulate or aerate the water inside the tank to provide your bait fish with a healthy environment. This way, any fish you have trapped can be kept alive for as long as you need them for whilst fishing.

And in generally terms, whatever is the design of the bait well, the aerator is the key to keeping bait alive active as this component circulates and oxygenates the water ensuring a steady supply of clean, cool, and oxygen-rich water that keeps bait fish alive and active.

best live bait tanks - live bait in tank

What should you be looking for?

The following should be taken into consideration as you look for a good live bait well:

  1. Type
  2. Size
  3. Durability
  4. Aeration system
  5. Power source
  6. Additions


There are two types of bait wells that are available for anglers to use in their fishing adventures. These are the portable and fixed types.

Portable bait well:

This group of bait wells is ideal for smaller vessels like canoes, kayaks, and pontoon boats. They also are a good choice for a larger craft that is not frequently used for live bait fishing. These are basically watertight coolers that are outfitted with aerators. The aerators typically draw power from small batteries or power adapters.

One obvious benefit of a portable bait well is you can easily swap it between boats. Moreover, when you are not storing live bait inside, a mobile bait well also serves as a general-purpose fishing cooler.

Fixed bait well:

The other type of bait well is a permanent fixture on the deck of larger fishing boats. Such a type of bait well is made from rigid rotomolded plastic and has circular or oval-shaped tanks. The design helps the fish avoid bumping into corners.

These wells purify water more effectively than simple aerator tanks with integrated 12-volt circulators that provide a constant supply of fresh water, reducing ammonia and waste buildup, which can cause fish to act sluggishly.


Prior to buying a live bait well, it is practical for you to determine what type of fishing you aim to do. This factor significantly affects the size of the product you must buy. If you are fishing from the shore, or small vessel, a relatively inexpensive tank that sits easily on a level area and offers ease in mobility might just do the trick.

It’s also important to consider the type of bait you intend to use and the space they will require to move around inside the tank to stay in good condition. If minnows, shad or other bait fish are kept in an overcrowded tank, they may not live long enough to still be live anyway.


For obvious reasons, look for a tank that will not be easily damaged when hit by splashes of water or accidentally tipped over from your vessel. Live wells for kayaks especially can get a little wet so look for one that is water-resistant enough to avoid the water getting inside the system damaging its internal components.

best live bait tanks - whitebait in bucket

Aeration system

Arguably, the aeration system of any live bait tank is its most crucial component since it is responsible for keeping your water oxygen-rich. Depending on the size of your tank, you should ensure that the aeration system it is equipped with can provide enough filtration and flow to achieve optimal oxygen levels in the water.

If you are running a three to five-gallon tank, I would recommend an aeration system with a flow rate of at least 1 liter per minute or up to 3 liters per minute for larger options.

Power supply

The majority of aeration systems in modern live bait tanks utilize simple D-size batteries to power their product. Depending on the aerator’s quality and brand, as well as the number of batteries you use, it is possible to get hours of operation from a single set of fresh batteries.

Other types use a USB port to power the internal system which enables them to use a phone charger or via a vehicle’s cigarette lighter for example.


Other potential additions include

  1. Shoulder straps: If you decide to buy small-sized tanks, they usually come with shoulder straps for easy transportation of the product.
  2. Integrated net liner: This becomes handy as you draw the fish bait from the tank without the need to handpick.
  3. Reduced noise: Another essential aspect that you might want to include in your checklist is the reduced noise of the equipment. Awfully noisy live bait wells might drive away your target fish, which is counterproductive to any successful angling.
  4. Convertible: A convertible live bait well refers to its capability to be used as your outdoor cooler whenever it is not used to preserve fishing baits.

My three recommendations broken down

So based on the information above and my own experience, I recommend the following options:

1. Marine Metal Products Plastic Bucket & Pump Kit

This first recommended product performs excellently on a budget price and is designed it to work well in both fresh and saltwater. The insulated bait bucket also comes with a net that saves you time in retrieving your fish bait. See its specifications below:

  • Brand: Marine Metal
  • Type: Portable live bait well
  • Construction material: Synthetic plastic
  • Power source: D Batteries
  • Capacity: 8 quarts
  • Weight: 1.56 pounds
  • Dimensions: 9 x 12 x 12 inches

Other inclusions:

  • Net liner
  • Sealed lid

Why have I chosen it?

This product keeps your bait alive for long periods by maintaining a constant water temperature. It has a battery life of up to 44 hours and is also made of an impact-resistant case with rubber booted switch to withstand any type of punishment that come with fishing. As above, this is a great budget option for those who like to keep some live bait every now and then.

2. Frabill Magnum Bait Station

This next option is a heavy-duty live bait tank sized to meet most fishing needs. It is durable in every aspect including it its rust-proof latches. See its specifications below:

  • Brand: Fabill
  • Type: Portable live bait well
  • Construction material: Injection molded plastic
  • Power source: 12v/D Batteries
  • Capacity: 19 quarts
  • Weight: 9.7 pounds
  • Dimensions: 19.1 x 13.9 x 11.5 inches

Other inclusions:

  • Aerator Deluxe with 12V power adapter (also runs on two D-cell batteries, not included)
  • Detachable padded shoulder strap
  • Lift-out net liner

Why have I chosen it?

This container has many great features, such as its unique two-speed aerator integrated directly into the lid and is completely water-resistant. The product was subjected to intense testing, such as being used in below-freezing temperatures while still performing optimally. It also has a lift net liner and measuring ruler molded into the lid for easy bait retrieval. This one would work well for fishers in any environment.

3. Engel Portable Insulated Live Bait Fishing Dry Box

This last option is compact and lightweight yet still able to provide a proper environment for your fishing baits. The well effectively keeps the water inside thanks to its airtight EVA gasket seal and easily converts into an outdoor cooler that can hold several of your favorite beverages instead if the need arises. See its specifications below:

  • Brand: Engel
  • Type: Portable live bait well
  • Construction material: Durable molded plastic
  • Power source: D Batteries
  • Capacity: 30 quarts
  • Weight: 7 pounds
  • Dimensions: 18.7 x 13 x 15.2 inches

Other inclusions:

  • Water-tight stainless steel latches
  • Convenient pull-up net
  • 2-Speed Pump

Why have I chosen it?

The portable live bait bucket is completely water-resistant to keep the motor safe in any weather and has a built-in pull-up bar for easy access to the fish. A 2-speed pump is used in this live bait well to maximize aeration and battery life. All in all, this is a fantastic option for those who want a good tank for a great price.


And there they are, my three best live bait wells for your fishing needs. I would be pleased to know how this article helped you, and as usual, let me know of your experiences with them.

Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections or would like me to check anything else out for you.

Until next time

Have fun


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Hi, I'm Paul

I am a passionate fishing, camping and four wheeled driving hobbyist who researches, tests and educates around issues and equipment relevant to them.

I am by no means a professional however my passion is to assist you in making informed decisions about buying and using awesome gear that will give you the best chance of success at whatever you are doing for the best price.

Please get in touch if you have any questions.