MUST HAVE: WST BAIT SHACK!
With the myriad of live bait imitating lures available today, it’s hard to believe that we still need to use minnows, chubs, and other live bait to catch fish. While some days a jig, crankbait, or spoon, can outfish live bait, on other days fish scoff at artificials asking, “Where’s the beef!”
In my experience, there are some common scenarios when fishing live bait can put more fish in the boat, especially post-spawn crappies, lethargic summer walleyes, and dog-days catfish. The bait may include minnows, chubs, bluegills, or bullheads, and ensuring they stay in optimum condition and super lively is absolutely critical.
The Solar Powered Bait Shack by Whisker Seeker Tackle keeps your live bait healthy and ready to fish. I’ve tried various DIY bucket and cooler systems as well as “premium” off the shelf models, and they all pale in comparison to the features, and most importantly the run time, of the Bait Shack.
During a recent 3-day fishing trip, the unit ran flawlessly the entire trip, without external charging, including the ride home. In fact, the minnows I bought Thursday afternoon were still alive and kicking on Sunday night. The former systems I’ve used ran on alkaline batteries and rarely lasted 24 hours without needing expensive battery replacements.
Aeration is crucial to keeping bait as lively as possible, and the Bait Shack does it better than the competition. Anglers are able to manage air levels with three self-contained high output air pumps. In addition, folks are able to switch between 1, 2, or 3 jets as needed depending on your bait needs. I found that several dozen minnows were content with 2 pumps running, and as the numbers decreased at the end of the trip, I backed it down to 1 jet to eliminate blowing the relatively fragile minnows around too violently. If an angler is using chubs or larger bait, running all 3 jets would be more than adequate to oxygenate the water and keep them lively.
The Bait Shack is heavily insulated, similar to your favorite roto-molded cooler. This aids in keeping the water temperature optimized for bait. However, WST took it one step further by providing an internal easy to read thermometer to accurately monitor temps. Keep the water level above the thermometer, and you’ll know when to move it under a shade tree or add some cold water or ice cubes to return to the optimum temperature.
The solar charging panel, on the removable lid of the Bait Shack, is an absolute game changer and the key to its long lasting performance. According to the WST site, on days with full sun to charge the panel, running 1 pump delivers 10 Day run time (30 second on/off interval), 2 pumps run up to 4 days (continuous operation), and 3 pumps provide up to 2 days run time (continuous running). However, if you’re bringing the Bait Shack back to camp every night, you can easily charge it with any powered USB port and restore your run time to full power every morning.
The intuitive control panel on the lid of the Bait Shack makes it easy for “owner’s manual challenged” anglers like myself to figure it out. Simply use the power button to toggle between the number of pumps you want to run. Keep an eye on the LED battery level meter to monitor and manage use of the air pumps. The LED furthest to the right signals a full battery, and each subsequent light indicates a 25% battery reduction down to zero. When the battery is running low, and an external power source is near, simply pop off the sealed silicone port cover and plug the Bait Shack in for a quick power boost.
Even with massive aeration, dense insulation, and insane run time, live bait still needs fresh water every so often. The removable pull net inside the bait tank makes it easy to “herd the cats” quickly for water changes, tank cleaning, and to simply grab a new bait. Anglers no longer need to pack a separate dip net to hunt and peck for a fresh minnow. All they have to do is lift the pull net and choose the perfect offering for the next hungry fish.
Every angler knows that keeping bait alive is a hassle, and the price for a dozen minnows just continues to rise. On my last trip, the small town bait shop charged around $5 per dozen, and not every scoop is equal. Big city locations often charge double that for minnows, and chubs, crawdads, and other “exotics” are through the roof! Keeping this investment alive and in good condition can be challenging, and tossing those dead minnows is like flushing a handful of quarters. As a result, head over to Whisker Seeker Tackle and check out the Bait Shack. For avid anglers it will pay for itself in one season, and more importantly, give you peace of mind that you’ll be ready the next time the fish asks, “Where’s the beef!”