How to Keep Bait Shrimp Alive Without Water

Bait Shrimp
Hi I'm Santi/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Shrimp are some of the most prolific Crustaceans found along the coasts and intertidal zones in North America. Larger consumable species targeted by seafood purveyors include the brown shrimp, white shrimp, pink shrimp, Royal Red shrimp and brown rock shrimp, which are generally harvested commercially by net boats, or by recreational anglers using cast nets or shrimp traps.

There is also a host of ghost shrimp, mud shrimp and grass shrimp species on the west coast that are often captured from shallow estuaries with the aid of a special shrimp pump that sucks them up from their burrows. The one thing that all shrimp have in common is that they are one of the most effective baits that you can use to catch fish. And, while you can often find them in some form at most well-stocked bait stores, nothing ever seems quite as effective as baiting live shrimp that you have caught yourself.

Sometimes it's just too difficult to carry a live bait aerator. Here's how to keep your shrimp alive without one!

Supplies You Will Need

  • Small ice chest
  • Newspaper

Steps to Keeping Shrimp Alive Without Water

  1. Find a small ice cooler about 1 foot wide by 2 feet long. A styrofoam one will do just fine.
  2. Fill the ice cooler half full of crushed ice.
  3. Wet about one section (30 pages) of newspaper with the saltwater from the live shrimp tank.
  4. Place this paper securely on top of the ice. Make sure no ice is showing.
  5. Place the live shrimp you purchase on the newspaper with no water.
  6. Place the lid on the ice cooler and let the shrimp chill down.
  7. When you need a shrimp for bait, simply take one from the cooler. No water, no mess.

Additional Tips

  1. The shrimp appear to go into some type of suspended state because of the cool down. When you place them on your hook and into the water, they immediately come back to life kicking.
  2. This method will last all day, even in hot weather, as long as the shrimp stay damp and chilled, and as long as they do not come in contact with the icy water below them.
  3. Keep the lid on that ice chest and drain the water frequently as the ice melts.