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The $1 bait pen...

kmagnusskmagnuss Posts: 3,237 Captain
edited March 2018 in General Fishing #1
There's a few of these out on the 'net but I figured I'd show the one I've been using.  My last one was really cool... it grew legs and walked away while sitting on my dock.  Crazy how that happens.
Anyway... this is pretty simple and it costs a dollar.
55 gallon drum - free if you look around
a couple dozen zip ties - already had a few bags... but if you don't the price will go up by $5
a pool noodle - I didn't have one that wasn't rotting away so had to splurge... a dollar
some old rope

All you do is take the barrel... cut 1/3 of it off with a jigsaw (or leave it if you want, but it's unnecessary for me)... cut the top off the 1/3 section you already cut off... drill a metric asston of holes in the now 37 gallon drum (space them out and make the size small enough that your bait of choice won't fit through.  I used 1/2".
Make sure to drill holes on the bottom of the drum also.
Then, just a pair of vertical holes spaced around the top to hold the noodle with zip ties.  zip it on... you want it pretty close to the top.
Then two pairs of holes on opposite ends of the top of the barrel to hold the rope... then match the top onto the barrel and drill two more pairs of holes spaced even with the ones you just made for the rope.
Tie a simple knot on each end of the rope and you're good to go.  Make sure the rope barely fits through the holes... this acts as the 'lock' to keep the bait from busting out through the top.  Make sure the rope is situated so that when you lift the drum it locks down the top.  You go from the top cover down, then out the side, so that when you pull up on the rope handle the knots pull down on the cover, locking it in place.

You don't need to put a weight in the bottom... just press the drum down as it fills up.  Once it's full of water it will balance perfectly.

Here's a couple pics: Good luck.


Tarpon... everything else is just bait.
Captain Keith - Crooked Rod Charters


  • WadeFishermanWadeFisherman Posts: 439 Deckhand
    Step above my poorman’s baitbucket. I used a milk gallon jug with holes cut in it and put shrimp in it. Used the handle to attach my rope, and the screw on cap served its purpose...only the warm and friendly bait shop owner had trouble with it, he said it was inhumane.  I guess the challenge of putting them through the small hole upset him...
  • SloughSlough S.w. Ga./ St. JamesPosts: 5,350 Admiral
    Thanks for sharing
    I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you
  • HootsterHootster Posts: 48 Greenhorn
    Had one like that, until otters turned it into a condo.
  • TarponatorTarponator Under a BridgePosts: 17,010 AG
    edited March 2018 #5
    I've done something very similar with a Walmart trash can.  The first one started to crack after 15 years, so I made a new one (from a trashcan with thicker plastic).  I like the 55 gal drum idea to make it even cheaper.  Mine has even more holes than yours does, for what it's worth.

  • ResinheadResinhead Posts: 10,978 AG
    Been using the big Brute garbage cans with a pool noodle forever.
    The Brute cans have good handles to grab. They also have the snap on lids that stay very secure.
  • TarponatorTarponator Under a BridgePosts: 17,010 AG
    edited March 2018 #7
    That's the same one that I used in the 2nd iteration: 

  • Rodfather73Rodfather73 Tampa, FlPosts: 31 Greenhorn
    I've been using the brute 30 gallon barrel for awhile. But the scaled sardines only seem to live 24 hours in tge canal. Not sure why?.any thoughts 
  • TarponatorTarponator Under a BridgePosts: 17,010 AG
    edited May 2018 #9
    Never really had luck keeping sardines for more than a day or so in a pen no matter what I've tried.

    However, I've seen a huge tank (6' across) on a dock with a pool pump that would keep them for a week.

    I'd guess a lack of water flow and a confined space conspire to kill scaled sardines, but that's just a guess....and my pens are almost exclusively used for crabs and with enough food will keep them alive for weeks at a time.

  • JohncdbassJohncdbass Posts: 164 Deckhand
    Got my can from the car wash. Works great. Sardines need a lot of fresh moving water to stay alive. Even then they don’t last long.
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