Wednesday, February 1st, 2023
Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Minnesota Pro Tip of the Week: Keeping your bait alive and keeper fish fresh

Tip by Brad Laabs 

Years of experience: 32


Favorite lakes: Otter Tail, Big Detroit and Sallie


It’s been hot this year, with some of the earliest 80-degree water temperatures that I can remember in years. That presents a challenge for both keeping your bait alive and for keeping any fish you keep fresh.


I close the drain of my main livewell and turn off the aerator and load it with 20 pounds of ice, rather than circulating warm lake water on my catch. When the day is over, I add water to the ice and then cut the throats of my fish to allow them to bleed out into the cold water. That keeps the fish nice and firm.


For bait, I put leeches and crawlers into a cooler with a jug of frozen water. It keeps them fresh. I use cold well water for my minnows that I put into my smaller livewell and run my recirculation pump instead of warmer lake water. The minnows acclimate well to that setup.


Laabs is a multi-species guide in the Detroit Lakes area. He can be reached at or 218-849-6108,

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