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11 Best Portable Live Wells: Which Is Right For You?

portable live well

Frabill

Keeping your live bait healthy and energized during a long day of fishing is sometimes easier said than done – especially if you’re not fishing from a boat with an onboard live well. A portable live well that enables you to take your bait on the go or effectively store your harvests is a brilliant tool for shore fishing, kayak angling, and loads of other applications!

We’ve pinned down the best portable live wells and bait buckets for all anglers and fishing styles so you can keep your bait energized and your catch-of-the-day fresh. Highlighting both large and in charge options as well as some handy, more portable models, there’s something here for everyone. Tight lines from all of us here at Heavy!

ENGEL Portable Insulated Live Bait Dry Box Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Available as a 13 or 19 quart bait cooler
  • Quality Injection Molded (PP Copolymer) construction insulated with high-grade molded Polystyrene foam
  • Included 2-speed pump maximizes aeration and battery life
Price: $107.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Engel 30 Quart Live Bait Cooler Box with 2-Speed Aerator Pump Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 30 Quart capacity
  • Quality injection molded (PP Copolymer) construction insulated with high-grade molded Polystyrene foam
  • Included 2-speed pump maximizes aeration and battery life
Price: $171.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Frabill Magnum Bait Station and Two-Speed Aerator Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 13, 19, and 30 quart sizing available
  • Injection-molded body featuring 1-inch commercial grade foam insulation and bait-friendly rounded internal corners
  • Included aerator is integrated directly into lid (30 quart option includes two aerators)
Price: $79.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Marine Metal Products Cool Bubble 8 Quart Bucket & Pump Kit Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 8 Quart size is lightweight and highly portable
  • Hard shell bucket with a 1/2-inch insulating, removable foam liner
  • Bubbles B-11 pump can run up to 44 hours with two D batteries and will also run on 1 battery
Price: $41.85 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Flambeau Outdoors Bait Butler and Aerator Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Unified lid system designed to fit any standard 5-gallon bucket
  • Built-in pull rod activated net quickly and efficiently brings your bait to the surface
  • Included Flambeau aerator has a 40-hour runtime on two D Cell batteries
Price: $44.36 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Sunglow Multi-Functional EVA Fishing Bag Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Soft body EVA live well that can be collapsed for easy storage
  • Available in 6, 8, and 10 gallon sizing (or 24, 32, and 40 quarts)
  • Zippered net opening at the lid enables you to add and remove bait without having to unzip the bag
Price: $29.80 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Fishernomics Collapsible Fishing Bucket Livewell with Rechargeable Aerator Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Soft body live well than can collapse down to two inches
  • Available in two sizes - roughly 38, and 25 quarts
  • Includes a rechargeable fresh/saltwater aerator with a roughly 12 hour runtime (25 hours on intermittent mode)
Price: $53.88 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
GOFR Ultimate Livewell Kit Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Portable live well system great for pier fishing that can pump and circulates fresh air and water up to 15 vertical feet
  • Water pump provides up to 2 gallons per minute of water
  • Lithium-Ion rechargeable batteries provide up to 6 hours of runtime on one charge (DC power adapter also included)
Price: $199.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Wilderness Systems Kayak Crate Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Blow-molded, high integrity 30-quart storage box that can be utilized as a live well
  • Storage compartment within the lid offers ample room for tackle and other items
  • Four built-in, adjustable rod holders
Price: $185.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Drasry Collapsible Fishing Bait Bucket Amazon Customer Reviews
  • EVA Soft body, 7-quart live well that can be utilized in or out of the water
  • Four-sided triangular positioning collapsible design packs down super compact
  • Includes a 16 foot long rope for hanging the live well in the water, or retrieving fresh water
Price: $14.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Z&W 5 Gallon Collapsible Floating Fishing Bait Bucket Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Floating design keeps bait submerged yet easily accessible
  • 10 by 14 inch size can be used on its own, and also fits most 5 gallon buckets
  • Rubber coated nylon netting is corrosion-resistant, anti-odor, and gentle on bait
Price: $23.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. 1. Editor’s Choice: Engel Portable Insulated Live Bait Dry Box with Aerator

    Pros:
    • Available as a 13 or 19 quart bait cooler
    • Quality Injection Molded (PP Copolymer) construction insulated with high-grade molded Polystyrene foam
    • Included 2-speed pump maximizes aeration and battery life
    • Includes a handy pull-out net for easy bait retrieval
    • Stain and odor resistant, cooler has a non-absorbent surface that's easy to wipe clean
    • Water-resistant aerator housing protects the motor and suppresses noise output
    • Aerator features a flexible silicone hose and weighted air stone for lively bubbling action
    • All bait box fittings are secured with stainless steel screws for increased integrity
    • Self-stopping hinge keeps the live well from slamming shut
    • ABS carry handles and integrated shoulder strap for easy portability
    • Airtight EVA gasket seal
    • Compact design is great for kayak fishing and smaller bait loads
    • Aerator takes D batteries or can be plugged into your car or boat's cigarette lighter using the 12V adapter
    Cons:
    • Does not offer a large capacity for bait or harvests
    • Complaints about the loud noise output of the aerator
    • No batteries included for the aerator

    The Engel Portable Insulated Live Bait Dry Box and Aerator is one of the top value options on the market due to its durable build and plethora of practical features. Available as a 13 or 19-quart bait cooler, both options are highly versatile in their angling applications and offer a great balance between capacity and portability.

    Built with a quality injection molded (PP Copolymer) construction and insulated with high-grade molded Polystyrene foam, this bait box is built exceptionally rugged to handle the abuses of whatever fishing style you put it through. All the box fittings are secured with stainless steel screws for increased integrity, while an airtight EVA gasket seal further boosts insulation and ensures no water escapes.

    We find the compact design to be great for kayak fishing applications and scenarios in which you need to carry your live well a fair distance on foot. Both the 13 and 19 quart size will slide nicely into kayak stern wells and ice fishing sleds, while the included shoulder strap makes toting this bait box a breeze. There is also an even smaller 7.5-quart option available if you’re seeking something truly compact.

    The brand furthermore includes a 2-speed aerator pump featuring water-resistant housing to both protect the motor and suppress noise output, so you’ve got everything you need here to get your live well in action minus the D-batteries required to run the pump. If you have a DC power source close by, you can also run the Engel aerator using the included power adapter.

    Arguably the most practical feature of all, the brand has integrated a handy pull-out net here for quick and easy bait retrieval. Simply lift the net liner to expose your bait items and grab what you need! The self-stopping hinges also effectively keep the lid open while you’re retrieving your bait, so you can use both hands without worrying about the box slamming shut.

    A quality-built product from an industry-trusted brand, you can’t go wrong with this reliable go-to from Engel!

  2. 2. Engel 30 Quart Live Bait Cooler Box with 2-Speed Aerator Pump

    Pros:
    • 30 Quart capacity
    • Quality injection molded (PP Copolymer) construction insulated with high-grade molded Polystyrene foam
    • Included 2-speed pump maximizes aeration and battery life
    • Includes a handy pull-out net for easy bait retrieval
    • Stain and odor resistant, cooler has a non-absorbent surface that's easy to wipe clean
    • Water-resistant aerator housing protects the motor and suppresses noise output
    • Aerator features a flexible silicone hose and weighted air stone for lively bubbling action
    • All bait box fittings are secured with stainless steel screws for increased integrity
    • Self-stopping hinge keeps the live well from slamming shut
    • ABS carry handles and integrated shoulder strap for easy portability
    • Airtight EVA gasket seal
    • Larger size is great for bigger bait loads, and for keeping harvested fish/game fresh
    • Aerator takes D batteries or can be plugged into your car or boat's cigarette lighter using the 12V adapter
    • Alternative option with four integrated rod holders available
    Cons:
    • May be a bit cumbersome for shore fishing applications
    • Complaints about the loud noise output of the aerator
    • No batteries included for the aerator

    If you’re on the market for a hard-sided, insulated option with a high capacity for bait, the Engel 30 Quart Live Bait Cooler Box with 2-Speed Aerator is without a doubt one of the top live wells on the market. Available with and without integrated rod holders and engineered with a practical, feature-rich design, this is a large and in charge, rock-solid bait box for anglers seeking a reliable and long-lived option.

    Built with a quality injection molded (PP Copolymer) construction and insulated with high-grade molded Polystyrene foam, Engel has designed a truly tough bait box here that holds internal water temperature steady. All the live well’s fittings are furthemore secured with stainless steel screws for increased integrity and life span.

    On top of its impressive durability, the bait box is stain and odor resistant and has an inherently non-absorbent surface that’s easy to wipe clean.

    The included 2-speed aerator runs on D-batteries and features a flexible silicone hose and a weighted air stone for lively bubbling action. You can also plug the pump into your boat or vehicle’s power using the included DC power adapter. The aerator simply clips to the side of the bait box and threads through a port in the lid, so you don’t have to break the gasket seal and compromise the water-tight closure or insulation. 

    Equipped with a handy pull-out net for easy bait retrieval and self-stopping hinges that keep the lid open, grabbing your bait is wonderfully simplified. The brand has not cut any corners here when it comes to engineering a purely practical live well.

    While this option may be a bit on the cumbersome side to transport very far on your two feet, it’s perfect for boating applications or tossing into your ice sled, and can be carried just fine with the help of a partner.

  3. 3. Frabill Magnum Bait Station and Two-Speed Aerator

    Pros:
    • 13, 19, and 30 quart sizing available
    • Injection-molded body featuring 1-inch commercial grade foam insulation and bait-friendly rounded internal corners
    • Included aerator is integrated directly into lid (30 quart option includes two aerators)
    • Durable design has been tested in below freezing temps
    • Tangle-free lift-out net liner for easy access to bait
    • 30 quart model includes a divider for separating different bait, and a measuring ruler molded into the lid
    • Gasket closure for a water-tight seal
    • Large carry handle(s) for heavy loads, and included shoulder strap on the smaller models
    • Included aerator runs on D-batteries or with a DC power adapter
    • Drain plug located at the bottom of the bait box
    • Non-slip bottom
    Cons:
    • Expensive option
    • No option to mount rods
    • Composite latches won't rust, but are not as durable as stainless steel

    The Frabill Magnum Bait Station and Two-Speed Aerator is another high-quality, industry-trusted option that’s available in a few different size options to accommodate your specific bait fishing needs.

    Offered in 13, 19, and 30-quart sizing, each model is built with an injection-molded body featuring 1-inch commercial-grade foam insulation and bait-friendly rounded internal corners. All models feature a tangle-free lift-out net liner for easy access to your bait and a gasket closure to ensure a watertight seal and optimum insulation.

    The included aerator is integrated directly into the lid, so it doesn’t throw off the live well’s balance or get in the way of scooping your bait. The largest model furthermore features a center divider that allows you to separate the live well if you choose to, and includes two aerators – one for each side.

    The included aerator(s) runs on D-batteries and also offers compatibility with a DC power adapter, so you can power it from your boat or vehicle’s battery if you choose to.

    Built with large carry handle(s) for handling heavy loads, toting this bait box around is not all that bad. The smaller models also include a detachable shoulder strap if you prefer to keep your hands free.

  4. 4. Marine Metal Products Cool Bubble 8 Quart Bucket & Pump Kit

    Pros:
    • 8 Quart size is lightweight and highly portable
    • Hard shell bucket with a 1/2-inch insulating, removable foam liner
    • Bubbles B-11 pump can run for up to 44 hours with two D batteries and will also run on 1 battery
    • Multi-purpose lid has a large opening for easy bait net access, a cutting surface, and mounting tabs for tools
    • Dip net included
    • Aerator is housed within an impact resistant case with a rubber booted switch (pumps 1.4 STL / minute)
    • Special weighted air stones provide greater dissolved oxygen
    Cons:
    • 8 Quart size will not accommodate larger bait loads or most harvested fish/game
    • Inherent smaller size means overfilling this bucket with certain bait may not provide them with enough oxygen
    • Does not balance well without any water weight - the weight of the battery tips the bucket over
    • Small opening might not accommodate other brand dip nets

    The Marine Metal Products Cool Bubble 8 Quart Bucket & Pump Kit is a no-nonsense, complete and ready-to-use system that’s perfect for anglers seeking an especially portable live well option. 

    This is simply a hard shell minnow bucket with a 1/2-inch insulating, removable foam liner for maintaining consistent water temperature. There is a dip net included, as well as a multi-purpose lid featuring a large opening for easy bait net access, a cutting surface, and mounting tabs for tools.

    The brand also includes a Bubbles B-11 pump that can run for up to 44 hours with two D batteries, and will also run on 1 battery. This is an industry-favorite, go-to aerator for fishermen everywhere, so this is a good value purchase even without the bucket in our opinion. The B-11 pump is housed within an impact-resistant case for increased integrity and pumps at 1.4 STL per minute.

    Perfect for virtually any fishing scenario in which you don’t require an especially large bait capacity, why reinvent the wheel if you simply need a minnow bucket for keeping your shiners, chubs, or shrimp nice and lively?

  5. 5. Flambeau Outdoors Bait Butler Bucket Lid and Aerator

    Pros:
    • Unified lid system designed to fit any standard 5-gallon bucket
    • Built-in pull rod activated net quickly and efficiently brings your bait to the surface
    • Included Flambeau aerator has a 40-hour runtime on two D Cell batteries
    • Lid features external loops and clips for hanging additional aerators, tackle, and accessories
    • Integrated rod holder
    Cons:
    • No bucket included
    • No batteries included
    • Not a bang for your buck compared to some other live well systems

    The Flambeau Outdoors Bait Butler Bucket Lid and Aerator is a simple and straightforward method of turning any 5-gallon bucket into a working live well. In the words of the brand, the Bait Butler “combines the net, lid, and aerator into one unified system that can easily be detached for refreshing the water without losing bait”.

    While this option certainly doesn’t give you the most bang for your buck when compared to full-feature live well options, it is a wonderfully simple and effective method of maintaining and accessing your bait, so anglers who appreciate minimalist, no-nonsense gear very well may find a friend here.

    We recommend this live well system for small to medium bait loads considering it’s meant to be paired with a 5-gallon bucket. Flambeau does not include a bucket with this purchase, but the Bait Butler does at least come standard with an aerator featuring a 40-hour runtime. 

    The lid furthermore features external loops and clips for hanging additional aerators, tackle, and accessories, as well as a built-in rod holder, so it offers much more versatility than standard bucket lids. The real star of the show here however is the built-in pull rod activated net that quickly and efficiently brings your bait to the surface for easy handling. By simply pulling on the rod, the lid opens and the net liner lifts simultaneously!

  6. 6. Sunglow Multi-Functional EVA Fishing Bag

    Pros:
    • Soft body EVA live well that can be collapsed for easy storage
    • Available in 6, 8, and 10 gallon sizing (or 24, 32, and 40 quarts)
    • Designated pocket for an aerator as well as a hose port
    • Zippered net opening at the lid enables you to add and remove bait without having to unzip the bag
    • Lid can be rolled back and secured with the cable tie in order to have full access to the opening
    • Ergonomic carry handle and shoulder strap for multiple carry options
    • Multiple colors available
    Cons:
    • No aerator included
    • Not an insulated live well so water will heat quickly in hot conditions
    • No gasket seal, so water may leak from the zipper when full
    • Does not hold its shape well until nearly full of water

    The Sunglow Multi-Functional EVA Fishing Bag is a versatile soft body live well option that can be collapsed for easy storage and deployed virtually anywhere.

    Available in 6, 8, and 10-gallon sizing (or 24, 32, and 40 quarts), the larger models offer a high capacity for bait and harvested fish in addition to their inherent portability. We find the Sunglow Fishing Bag to be especially handy for ice fishing and shore fishing applications in which you require a high capacity, yet reasonably portable method of storing and maintaining your bait.

    If you plan to use this bag as a creel, simply keep this live well collapsed until you reach your fishing spot, fill it, set up your aerator, and viola – you’ve got a place to keep your harvests fresh! If you plan on using this live well for bait, transporting it with water may be a bit difficult depending on how far you need to haul it, so keep this detail in mind.

    A zippered net opening at the lid enables you to add and remove bait without having to unzip the bag, while the lid can also be rolled back and secured with the cable tie for full access to the reservoir. When closed, the bag still has the potential to leak through the zipper, so be aware of this if transporting the bait bag while full. 

    Note that there is no aerator included with this purchase, so you’ll have to pair it with your own device. There is however a side pocket on the bait bag to accommodate an air pump, as well as a hose port into the reservoir for easy setup.

  7. 7. Fishernomics Collapsible Livewell with Rechargeable Aerator

    Pros:
    • Soft body live well than can collapse down to two inches
    • Available in two sizes - roughly 38, and 25 quarts
    • Includes a rechargeable fresh/saltwater aerator with a roughly 12 hour runtime (25 hours on intermittent mode)
    • Aerator can also run on a portable power bank
    • Breathable drop-in lid enables you to slide in your bait and harvests without unzipping the bag
    • Includes a side pocket for placing your aerator as well as a hose port
    • Fish ruler printed on the top of the live well
    • Easy deisgn to clean
    • Great value option
    Cons:
    • Soft body construction is flimsy unless mostly full of water
    • Straps and handles are not detachable and prone to line snags if kayak fishing
    • No hard bottom means the weight of the water and bait sags and strains the bag
    • Interior of the bag is black which can make it difficult to see certain bait species

    If you’re seeking a versatile, high-capacity live well option that gives you some solid bang for your buck, let us introduce you to Fishernomics’ Collapsible Live Well and Rechargeable Aerator. This soft body option is available in roughly 25 and 38-quart sizing, and conveniently collapses down to just two inches thick when it’s time to call it a day.

    A wonderfully portable and deployable option for loads of different fishing contexts, this handy live well is designed with a breathable drop-in lid that enables you to slide in your bait and harvests without having to unzip the bag. The soft body construction and lack of a hard bottom make this bait bag flimsy until it’s mostly full of water, but once properly set up, you’ll find it holds its own in regard to functionality alongside hard-sided bait boxes.

    The brand has included a rechargeable fresh/saltwater aerator featuring a roughly 12-hour runtime (25 hours on intermittent mode), bringing the overall value from good to great. The aerator can also be plugged into a portable power bank, so there’s no reason you should ever run out of juice while out on the water. Featuring a side pocket and hose port for easy bubbler setup, deploying this soft-bodied live well is made that much simpler.

    Despite the ergonomic carry handles and shoulder strap for easy carry, this bait bag will not be very practical to haul on your own when full, so keep this detail in mind.

  8. 8. GOFR Ultimate Livewell Kit

    Pros:
    • Portable livewell system great for pier fishing that can pump and circulates fresh air and water up to 15 vertical feet
    • Water pump is equipped with a floating buoy and 16 feet of tubing to provide up to 2 gallons per minute of water
    • Air pump/aerator included
    • Lithium-Ion rechargeable batteries provide up to 6 hours of runtime on one charge (DC power adapter also included)
    • Included adapter kit converts most roto-molded coolers (without drilling holes) and 5 gallon buckets into a live well.
    • Multiple modes for controlling the amount of water recirculation in order to best maintain your selected bait species
    • Fresh and saltwater approved
    Cons:
    • Expensive option
    • No bait bucket or box included for use as a reservior
    • Setup and operation is a bit more intensive than standard live wells, but easy to master with a little practice

    The GOFR Ultimate Livewell Kit is a unique portable live well system particularly great for pier and bridge fishing applications that’s able to pump and circulate fresh air and water up to 15 vertical feet! If your fishing spot is high up and above the water line, this is a brilliant way to keep the water conditions optimum within your live well without having to constantly fetch water. 

    This system works by utilizing an in-the-water pump to circulate the water in your bait bucket or box (not included) at a rate of your choosing. The high setting will pump water 1 minute out of every 3 minutes (20 cycles per hour), while the low setting pumps water 1 minute out of every 4 minutes (15 cycles per hour). A particularly useful feature for sensitive and fragile bait species, this enables you to mindlessly control the water quality/freshness of your reservoir without having to manually bail out and add new water. There is also a recirculation mode for more efficient transporting of your bait.

    In addition to the water circulation, the brand has also of course included an aerator here for thorough oxygenation of your reservoir. 

    This is a particularly practical system for anglers who target fish in spots where the water is a long way down, and therefore can’t simply fill and refill their live well. Fishing from bridges, elevated docks, and even steep stream or lake banks can make fetching water difficult or impossible, so owning an easy-to-use water pump system such as this may be a major game changer for you! 

    The included Lithium-Ion rechargeable batteries provide up to 6 hours of runtime on one charge, so you’re in pretty good shape for even long days on the water. A DC power adapter is also included if you have a cigarette lighter nearby.

    This kit does not include a bait bucket or box, so you’ll have to utilize your own for use as a reservoir. There is however an included adapter kit that effectively converts most roto-molded coolers (without drilling holes) and 5-gallon buckets into a working live well – so the brand has made this detail easy to resolve.

    While it may be a bit on the expensive end, this is an innovative and well-designed system for keeping bait lively that’s truly brilliant for certain fishing contexts.

  9. 9. Wilderness Systems Kayak Crate

    Pros:
    • Blow-molded, high integrity 30-quart storage box that can be utilized as a live well
    • Storage compartment within the lid offers ample room for tackle and other items
    • Four built-in, adjustable rod holders
    • Made to fit a kayak stern well
    • Universal lash down points for securing to boat decks, kayaks, and more
    • Versatile storage box that can be utilized in all sorts of contexts
    Cons:
    • Will have to leave the lid cracked in order to run an aerator hose into the box
    • No aerator included
    • Lid is not fully waterproof so there is potential for spilling if transporting the live well with water
    • Fairly heavy at 10.9 pounds

    While this is technically a storage box intended for paddling, the Wilderness Systems Kayak Crate is a high-quality, versatile piece of gear that can be easily utilized as a portable live well.

    This is a blow-molded, high-integrity 30-quart storage box that offers awesome versatility in its applications. You can utilize the Wilderness Systems Kayak Crate as a gearbox, a cooler, or a live well to name just a few applications. Four adjustable rod holders go on to boost the practicality of this product even further, performing wonderfully both on and off-board fishing kayaks. 

    Apart from the main 30-quart compartment, there is an ample degree of additional storage within the crate lid. It’s perfect for stashing some tackle, your pliers and other tools, a fishing license, or even some snacks! 

    The crate is designed to fit most kayak stern wells and also features universal lash-down points for securing to virtually any boat deck, so you can bring this handy storage box essentially anywhere you choose. Keep in mind however that it’s fairly heavy at almost 11 pounds, so transporting this option very far on foot may be a bit exerting for some anglers.

    When it comes to utilizing this crate as a portable live well, there are certainly a few drawbacks. First and foremost, you will have to leave the lid cracked in order to run an aerator hose into the box, compromising its ability to keep water from spilling, and lowering the overall insulation stats. Even when shut properly, the lid is water resistant and not fully waterproof, so you may experience some spilling if transporting the crate full of water. Chances are you can clip your aerator to one of the rod holders for easy setup, but be mindful not to kink your bubbler hose to the point of damage when feeding it under the lid.

    While there are a few hurdles to jump in order to set this storage crate up for effective use as a portable live well, we find the inherent versatility and quality of construction here to be well worth the hassle depending on your fishing style. 

  10. 10. Drasry Collapsible Fishing Bait Bucket

    Pros:
    • EVA Soft body, 7-quart live well that can be utilized in or out of the water
    • Four-sided triangular positioning collapsible design packs down super compact
    • Includes a 16 foot long rope for hanging the live well in the water, or retrieving fresh water
    • Zippered lid is made of netting to allow water exchange, and can easily accommodate an aerator hose
    • Ergonomic carry handle
    • Great for ice fishing applications
    Cons:
    • No aerator included
    • Small size will not be able to accommodate large bait loads or harvested fish/game
    • Live well is not insulated, so if using it out of the water, it will warm quickly in the heat (consider which color is best)

    The Drasry Collapsible Fishing Bait Bucket is an especially portable live well option offering only about 7 quarts of volume. We find this brilliantly packable EVA bait bag to be perfect for ice fishing applications, as well as for bridge or pier fishing due to the included 16 feet of rope that can be used for hanging and suspending the bucket in the water. 

    Offering stellar versatility, you can use this option as a reservoir and pair it with an aerator, or simply toss it into the water body you’re fishing in. The narrow design can be easily slid into drilled ice holes while out on the hard water, and the bucket is also very willingly secured to a kayak or fishing vessel. 

    Arguably most practical of all depending on your fishing style, the four-sided triangular positioning collapsible design packs down super compact. You can easily slide this live well into a fishing backpack, or even a jacket pocket!

    The zippered lid is built with netting in order to allow water exchange, and can easily accommodate an aerator hose, so how you choose to apply this bait bucket is truly up to you.

    Affordable, portable, and highly versatile, Drasry has engineered an excellent live well option here for accommodating smaller bait loads in a plethora of different contexts.

  11. 11. Z&W 5 Gallon Collapsible Fishing Bait Bucket

    Pros:
    • Floating design keeps bait submerged yet easily accessible
    • 10 by 14 inch size can be used on its own, and also fits most 5 gallon buckets
    • Rubber coated nylon netting is corrosion-resistant, anti-odor, and gentle on bait
    • Versatile live well thay works great as a submerged bait bag while ice fishing, wade fishing, or boating
    • Simple drawstring closure
    • Collapsible design is super lightweight and packable
    • Excellent value
    Cons:
    • No aerator included
    • 10 by 14 inch size does not offer a large capacity for bait or harvested fish/game
    • Does not offer any insulation, so if you're using it within a water body rather than a bucket or cooler, be mindful of water temperature

    The Z&W 5 Gallon Collapsible Floating Bait Bucket is a highly versatile and wonderfully affordable live well option that can either be placed directly into the water body you’re fishing, or into a bait bucket or cooler. Perfect for ice fishing applications, shore fishing, and even for tying off to your kayak or your person while wade fishing, you can do a lot with this handy bait bag.

    Bult from durable rubber-coated nylon netting, this portable live well is built to be resistant to odor as well as corrosion resistant. It’s suitable for both fresh and saltwater use, but we still recommend rinsing it after use in the salt in order to maximize life span.

    The 10 by 14 inch size does not offer a particularly large capacity for bait or harvested fish, but it’s perfect for sliding into narrow ice holes, and for low-profile attachment to your waders or personal watercraft. The smaller size also makes this collapsible bait bag exceptionally portable, so it can truly come with you anywhere.

    Whether you use this live well within a compatible 5-gallon bucket or simply toss it in the water on its own, the floating design makes accessing your bait a piece of cake. Keep in mind however that you’ll have to unfasten the drawstring closure in order to access your bait.

    All in all, this is a well-built and excellent value option that’s a brilliant choice of portable live well for the right fishing contexts.

Selecting The Right Live Well

Choosing a portable live well has everything to do with your fishing style and the type and amount of bait you plan to use. Carefully consider how much water volume your expected bait load or harvested catch requires as well as where you plan to utilize your live well before making a purchase. 

For Example:

Smaller types of bait such as glass shrimp and teenier minnow species may very possibly be able to swim through mesh bait bags, and will therefore require a hard-sided live well.

Temperature-sensitive bait species will fare better if stored within an insulated bait box or bucket.

If planning to use your live well for storing harvested fish, lobsters, shellfish, and other game, be sure there's enough capacity to accommodate your bag-limit

 

Large Capacity Live Wells

If you're seeking a high-volume live well for use on your fishing vessel, at the lake house, on the ice, and beyond, there are most definitely some large and in charge options that should be on your radar. While larger hard-sided bait boxes don't offer the best portability, there are some high-capacity mesh bait bags that pack down super compact and weigh next to nothing. Think about how you'll be utilizing your live well and consider what makes the most sense for you.

Some of our top picks for portable live wells that feature an especially large capacity for bait include:

Highly Portable Live Wells

If you don't have a need for a large-capacity bait box, be sure to check out some of our top picks for the most portable live wells. These options put a focus on compact storage and easy carry, making them great for hiking into your favorite fishing hole, or for use aboard your kayak or personal fishing vessel. 

A few of our favorites include:

Bait Bags

If it's compatible with your fishing style, a mesh bait bag or net that you can simply place into the water body you're fishing in is without a doubt the most portable style of live well. These simple cinch-nets are super low-weight, and are offered in a full range of sizes to accommodate virtually any amount of bait.

Floating bait bags can even be tied off to your person while wade fishing, or secured to a kayak, float tube, or personal fishing vessel. Smaller diameter options are also handy for sliding into an ice hole while fishing on the hard water.  

Keep in mind this style of live well offers no real insulation, so if the water body you're fishing in does not offer suitable temps or water chemistry for prolonged bait health, you'll want to pair your bait bag with your own reservoir.

Our top picks for the best bait bags include: 

Minnow Buckets

If you're a shore fisherman or ice angler simply seeking an insulated pail or bucket for keeping a dozen or two shiners, why spring for a full-feature live well? There are plenty of simple and straightforward minnow buckets suitable for live well use that may be more than adequate for your fishing style.

 A few of our top picks include:

Boat Coolers

If you truly need a huge capacity bait box, don't forget to consider utilizing a big boat cooler or camping cooler as your live well and simply pairing it with an aerator for oxygenation. Because you'll have to feed your aerator tube into the cooler you likely won't be able to maintain a gasket seal, but this should be a non-issue if you don't mind a little spilling considering how well insulated most coolers are. If you plan to fill a cooler that's much over 40 quarts, we recommend using two aerators to ensure adequate oxygenation.

Our list of the best boat coolers features some great options for live well consideration.

Fishing Creels

If you're simply seeking a method of keeping your harvested fish nice and fresh until the end of the day, be sure to consider a simple creel rather than a full-on live well system. Our top list of the best fishing creels features our favorite options for all anglers and angling styles!

Aerators

If the portable live well system you decide on does not include an aerator, we highly suggest pairing it with one in order to optimize bait health. Keeping your reservoir nicely oxygenated has everything to do with keeping your bait happy and lively, so be sure to employ a reliable aerator or pump for the best results.

We recommend these industry-trusted options: