Live shrimp is a great choice for those starting out in inshore fishing provided they are alive and kicking. Here's how to keep shrimp alive in five easy steps.
How to Keep Shrimp Alive
Nothing is worse than discovering all your bait died on your way to the honey hole. Here is how to keep shrimp alive to ensure those sea crickets keep kicking.
1. Keep shrimp well aerated
Shrimp breathe oxygen just like me and you. And – just like me and you – will die without it.
That's why you may have noticed that big shrimp die first, because their oxygen requirements are higher than that of smaller sized shrimp.
But it doesn't stop there: once their dead bodies start stinking up the live well, the rest of the shrimp will soon be joining them in the shrimp afterlife.
A good way to keep shrimp alive is by using a strong aerator like a water re-circulator or air stone. Both work wonders to keep water temps down and oxygen levels up.
Sure, you can use oxygen tablets (and they do work) but you probably ought to forego them because it’s one more thing you have to remember to carry in the boat.
2. Keep the water cool
Maintaining a cool water temperature is a great way to keep shrimp alive, and we already covered that keeping water aerated helps do that.
But aeration is not the only way to cool water temps! You should also keep the live well lid closed to keep out the warming rays of the sun.
Adding ice or frozen water bottles helps, just be sure to secure the bottles if you use them. Otherwise they will bounce around when underway and smash the shrimp.
In the heat of the summer pattern, I’d throw a twenty pound bag of ice into a thirty gallon live well to keep water temps down and the shrimp happy.
3. Keep the water clean
As mentioned before, dead shrimp can “stink up” a tank with ammonia if they are allowed to remain and, unfortunately, kill more of your live shrimp.
The solution to keep shrimp alive here is simple: remove the dead shrimp, but don't toss them overboard just yet!
You can keep those dead shrimp to use as chum or to tip soft plastic lures.
Just make a point of checking for them regularly to keep shrimp alive.
Oh, and there's one more trick: you can leave the livewell lid cracked to help noxious gasses escape.
A neat trick is to use a tennis ball with a hole poked in it. It will hold the lid open but – if someone were to step on it – gives way and not cause the lid to break.
4. Watch your water intakes to keep shrimp alive
In Louisiana we have something special: a confluence of the Mighty Mississippi River and the rich Gulf of Mexico.
Nutrient-rich river water mixes with saltwater to bolster the entire food chain from top to bottom.
This creates a lot of live shrimp for us to use as a bait, but the irony is that it can kill them, too!
That's because it is easy to go from salty to straight river water in a flash, just like in this fishing trip review.
If you are transporting live shrimp in your boat’s livewell from point to point, then ensure the water intakes are closed, so dirty river water doesn't make it harder to keep shrimp alive.
Otherwise, they are guaranteed to die!
5. Use a dip net
Putting your hands in the live well can introduce harmful chemicals that won't help keep shrimp alive.
In order to get around this you should use a dip net, just be sure to get one that floats in case you drop it in the live well (or over the side of the boat).
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