If you’ve seen some of the other content I do with NAF you know that I am not the best fabricator, but I do have a mind for solving simple problems.
Soft plastics have come a long way, many designed just for ice fishing, but if you fish for crappies or walleyes chances are good that you are still using live bait at some point.
When ice fishing in “nice” conditions I use a Clam Bait Bucket. This insulated bucket has a nice carry strap and is available in several sizes, the key, however, that it has a screw-shut lid with a gasket to keep your minnows from spilling all over. Whether it’s being spilled on your truck seat or all over the ice—it isn’t good.
When conditions get extreme like super cold temps or extremely long commutes I like to fashion my own homemade bucket. One of those thick walled Styrofoam cheap minnows buckets that breaks just by looking at it becomes like a suit of armor when permanently fixed inside a 5- or 6-gallon bucket.
The trick is to them get ahold of some clear plastic bags that fit this contraption. Large quantities can be purchased online very reasonably. When the minnows are put into the bag and secured with a clip the water sloshing around can’t get all over your gear or freeze onto the lid or latch that is keeping it shut.
I have had to break more than a few minnow buckets in order to get into a well frozen lid. Yes you can sit it in front of a heater to thaw it out. This is an option until your buddy has five fish on the ice, then you just bust it open. It gets old quick!
Use a scrap piece of 1-inch wall insulation to cut a round lid that will be much sturdier than what the bucket comes with. A piece of rope and a washer to help keep it from pulling through and you are on your way to having a minnow bucket that handles the cold better than you and for less than $10.
Capt. Ross Robertson