Do Kayaks Come With Livewell’s?

Kayak fishing is increasing in popularity because they are much less expensive than boats, are much easier to load up and take to the lake, and do not require you to have a truck in order to transport it. While you get the advantage of not having to have a full-size boat to get out on the lake and fish more spots, you do lose some of the luxuries like capacity for more than a single seat, and things like Livewell’s that you would normally find in a fishing boat.

Do kayaks come with Livewell’s? Unfortunately, no, kayaks do not come standard with Livewell’s, when you buy one. While kayaks do have storage bins in them, if you want an actual Livewell in your kayak, you would have to put it in yourself after you buy the kayak. There are however, many different ways you can add one into your kayak, and it really isn’t that hard if you are somewhat handy. We are going to take a look at some options for you and answer some questions you might have.

Can You Build Your Own?

The only way for you to have a real Livewell is to build your own, but fear not! We have the perfect video that not only goes into some simple terminology but also shows you how to build a real working Livewell into your kayak, with electric motor and piping for freshwater. This video basically walks you through how to pipe your own Livewell in, but you will have to modify your kayak in order to do it.

How Long Will Fish Or Bait Last

Fish on average will stay alive for about 8 hours in a normal Livewell. Depending on the type of Livewell you add to your kayak, you can have fish stay fresh and alive for 4 to 6 hours if you do the actual plumbing like the video above. If you go the cooler route, and you do not push freshwater in, you could only be looking at a 3 to 4-hour lifespan for your fish or bait.

Fish need freshwater to survive, so if they do not have that, there is very little chance to up their lifespan. It is a good idea to not overcrowd your Livewell, so the more fish or bait you want to keep in it, the bigger your Livewell will have to be. The only problem with this is that you are in a kayak and not a full-sized boat, so your space is limited.

Do I Really Need One?

Needing a Livewell really depends on what you want to do with the fish you catch, and if you really need live bait to fish with. If you are going to be fishing catch and release, you probably do not need a Livewell in your kayak. If you plan to use live bait, or you are catching fish to eat or for a tournament, then you probably need something in your kayak to keep them alive. Even if you are fishing for food, you could just store your fish in one of the kayak’s compartments, but your kayak is going to smell rather quickly, and you will most likely need to wash it out after every trip you make (assuming you catch fish every time).

Does It Raise The Resale Value Of My Kayak?

Just like when you make home improvements, most people will wonder if spending the money to make a functioning Livewell will raise the resale value of their kayak. While you might get some of the cost back for the parts you spent on the Livewell, you are not going to see a giant increase in resale value.

green kayak on the lake

This is because kayaks are inexpensive in the first place, and adding a Livewell that is plumbed and has a pump is not that expensive to do as long as you are somewhat handy. Adding a Livewell is mostly for the personal preference of the person who is going to use it.

While some anglers might use live bait or keep what they catch, there are also people out there (like myself), who like to catch and release, and do not have the need to use live bait that often. Do not install a Livewell if all you want to do is make a profit by reselling, you are not going to see a huge return unless you find someone that really wants one and cannot do it themselves.

Can I Just Use A Cooler?

If you do not have the skills to install a Livewell yourself, then you can go a much cheaper route, and find a nice cooler that will fit in one of your compartment areas. There are a few things to keep in mind when you go this route. First, your fish or bait is not going to last as long, so please do not expect them to last all day.

The second is that you need to do your research and find a cooler that is going to fit into your compartments without needing modification and can easily be taken out and cleaned after your fishing trip. The third is that you will need to put fresh water in while you are fishing, or your fish are not going to get the oxygen they need to survive. It is a good idea to rinse your cooler out every time you go fishing. There are several pre-built Livewell’s you can buy, and there is a really nice one that has rod holders HERE.

Is Putting One In My Kayak Safe?

Adding a fully functioning Livewell, or if you are only adding a cooler that fits is very safe for your kayak. If you just add a cooler to one of your compartments is the safest way to add a Livewell because you are not making any modifications that could cause any structural damage.

If you actually plumb piping to circulate water, you must make sure that you seal any hole you drill thoroughly. You do not want to get out on the lake, only to find out you did not get a great seal and have a leak in your kayak. Leaks can let lots of water in quickly, so test your kayak in shallow water before you take it out to deeper water where you can’t hop out and pull it to shore. Double and triple check all fittings for leaks before you even hit the water.

Will Having One Make My Kayak Flip Over?

When adding a Livewell to your kayak, you will find that placement is the most important factor. While most fishing kayaks have a more flat bottom so you do not flip over easily, adding a few gallons of water plus the cooler and pump weight could throw off the balance of your kayak which could cause it to flip over more easily.

kayak fishing on rivers and lakes

To get around this, you want to find the center of your boat, and add the Livewell there. This will keep your center of gravity in the right spot and not make the kayak lean to one side or the other, which will help you not flip. If you install it in the proper location, you should have no issues of flipping when you jerk to set the hook. Adding gallons of water though does increase the weight of your boat which might make paddling a bit more of a workout on you.

Final Thoughts

Adding a Kayak to your boat is a great way to keep your fish and bait alive while out fishing, just like a regular boat. The installation process of a fully pumped Livewell is actually not that hard if you follow the video above, and should only take you about a day to do. The most important thing to remember is that you MUST test all seals from any holes you drill in your kayak, and you MUST test all fitting connections that will have water running through them to be safe.

Always take your kayak out for a test run in 2 to 4 feet of water first, just to make sure that if you do have a leak, you can get your kayak to safety before it sinks to the bottom. And while adding a Livewell to your kayak might bring you a few extra bucks when you go to sell it, you are not going to see a huge return on investment unless you find the right buyer. This project is really for you and what you plan on doing with it.