Most of today's modern boats don't have the capacity to handle the large fish that we get in tournaments', generally the biggest they will be is 40 gallons, my SmokerCraft has 2 Livewells one in the front 40 Gallons which is fine for maybe 2 big fish and by big I'm talking 40#fish each. The one in the stern is 32 gallons but it is a square tank so fish over 10# are going to be cramped up in it.
Last year I came up with an idea of building one that would hold large catfish for CPR during tournaments.
It's a Delta Packer 60 truck box, it is molded plastic with built in handles on the side very easy to get in and out of the boat when dry, when full of water it holds around 60 gallons of water.
The box is built very strong and has lid latches with a full seal all around the inside so no water will splash out of it when traveling even in rough conditions.
Inside is a 39 inch schedule 40 PVC pipe with three sprayer nozzles mounted and holding the pipe are two conduit holders that are glued in place using a product called Marine Goop.
On one end of the box is a 750 gallon per hour Mayfair cartridge pump, again it is glued in place with Marine Goop.
In the very bottom are two 12 inch air stones linked together and glued in place, air is being supplied with a power Bubbles unit that pumps 2 liters of air a minute into the livewell.
I fill the livewell with a Rule submerge pump that I just toss over the side of the boat and pump fresh water on board, I can also use this same unit to refresh the water in the livewell or use it to pump out all the water in the system.
The box dimensions are 43"X20"X20" the lid and bottom and sides are reinforced, the lid has a fully recessed rubber seal that doesn't leak. there are two latches on the front corners when activated will pull down and seal the lid.
This tank was tested in 2005 with a 88# Blue during a US Cats tournament.
The Delta Box I purchased at TSC stores for around $75.00 dollars and the Mayfair pump and Power Bubbles from Cabala's for $35.00 each everything else I had at the house, the Air stones can be purchased at any pet store.
Doc Lange 3-5-2006
Prior to the 2007 Season Lynn said she felt the boxes above would be inadequate for another tournament season, so we both sat down and talked about what we wanted in a livewell and agreed that the fish come first but we needed something big to support them, made another trip to TSC and started looking at the truck boxes, found out there were all welded seams and would hold water, had a watertight seal for the lid plus a locking mechanism which we could use for additional storage traveling to a tournament.
Anything that is big enough to hold me is going to be big for any fish we catch. this box ended up being very good for the boat, made the ride level out and handling of the boat improved when the well was full, holds 125 gallons of water. Makes a nice table for putting the cutting board on I can prop my feet up on it and we can stand on the lid to fight and maneuver a fish around the boat.
The box is held in place with two 5/16" x 3 inches long bolts and bolted directly into the cabinet behind the box, the lid is spring shocks and it will take your chin off if your not careful this is experience talking here. Get's kind of tight along the sides we have just under a foot of room to shimmy by the tank but we are used to it.
On the Left side at the bottom is the Aqua- Lung screened intake the filtering unit is located behind the livewell and mounted to the wall of another cabinet for easy removal and cleaning of the filter assembly.
Water fill intake is a quick connect that I tapped into the fill pump located in the transom of the boat, I can fill the tank by flipping a toggle switch located on my main dash panel, there are 4 airstones that are glued to the bottom of the tank for additional aeration, 2 air pumps are located behind the tank in a cabinet, the pump in the picture is used to pump out the water at the end of the day or it can be used to do a complete water change if so desired.
This is a 56# Flathead that we caught in the Mount Vernon Tournament in 2007.
Several hours later it had company from a 51# Flathead and a 36# Flathead,2 15# Flatheads and an 11# Blue for a total of 184# of catfish, so Lynn was right we did need a bigger and better tank and it is perfect for us, I installed battery operated stick-on LED lights we don't do a lot of night fishing except with Ohio Hills catfish club and they do a great job of interior lighting of the livewell at night.
I no longer use the sprayer bar as the Aqua-Lung cleans the water removes ammonia and infuses air into the livewell.
Doc Lange 1-16-2008