Tips on Installing a Baitwell

A baitwell must be mounted on the centerline of the boat, or your boat will list when you fill it with water. Also, baitwells located in the transom can transfer heat from the engine to the water.

It's a good idea to mock up a dummy baitwell out of cardboard and install it with duct tape to see if the baitwell is going to be an irritant. This will help you decide if you want a round, oval, rectangular or square tank.

Baitwells are either injection molded or made from fiberglass with a gelcoat surface. The fiberglass baitwells allow you to conceal all or most of the plumbing and mounting hardware under a false bottom, but the injection molded versions are usually cheaper and lighter.

After choosing a baitwell, position it where you plan to mount it, then consider the easiest way to get water into and out of the tank.

Next, you'll need water intake and overflow plumbing installed. Start with the intake side because this is more critical than the overflow. You may be able to use an existing seacock with T-fitting. However, consider if it's going to reduce the cooling water going to the engine.

If you don't have an available through-hull fitting, you'll need to install one. Bronze is the best material and the most expensive, but you won't have any problems with a good, quality fitting. Be sure to install a seacock for safety and since the intake will be below the waterline, use double stainless steel hose clamps.

Use the recommended pump size to provide sufficient water pressure. Wire the pump into your electrical system. Use a spare switch on the dashboard to control the pump.

You'll need an overflow line above the waterline to eliminate potential leaks. Install a screen over the outlet to protect against clogging from fish scales and debris.

With injection molded tanks, you'll probably have L-brackets that are visible on the outside. Through bolting will secure the tank better.

With fiberglass tanks, the brackets will be concealed on the inside under the false bottom. Before permanently mounting the baitwell, you can grind the bottom of the tanks so it fits snugly to your deck.

Seat both fiberglass and plastic tanks on a ring of silicone sealant. Once everything is assembled, put your boat in the water to test the baitwell. It should fill quickly and the overflow should maintain the water at a steady level. Check for leaks, and then head for the baitshop to load up!

Steve Hicks