The finished fish box, a floating "home" where finny critters will stay fresh and tender until it's time for the fry pan!
MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
An easy way to keep your catch super-fresh, and put extra flavor in the frying pan is to build a live fish holding box. (See the fish holding box photos in the image gallery.)
How to Build a Live Fish Holding Box
Now that summer's here, a lot of folks may be thinking about spending relaxing (and productive) vacations at the lake or seashore. And this is a good time—while you're unsnarling line and oiling reels—to take an hour or so and build yourself a floating livefish box . . . because one of these "keep 'em alive" containers is a valuable addition to anybody's angling equipment.
Even if you're fumble-fingered, this do-it-yourself project will prove to be as easy to make as it is inexpensive. And it's just the thing to keep hungry snapping turtles and the like from enjoying your catch while you fish, or to prove to your dinner guests that you know not only how and where to land a mess of fillets-in-the-rough . . . but how to get them to the table fresh and delicious, too!
To begin, just scrounge up a used wooden apple crate (try grocery stores or even roadside markets to locate one of these items), discard the box's bottom, and then reinforce the lower edges with scrap pieces of 1 inch by 4 inch lumber. This extra thickness of wood around the base of the container will allow you to attach (with hammered-in staples) either chicken wire or hardware cloth to the crate's underside.
You should also line the two longer top edges of the box with 1 by 4's . . . and make sure that these boards extend four inches beyond each end of the carton. Then, so your fish box will have handles for easy lifting from the water, just nail 1 inch by 2 inch picture molding (or any similar small pieces of lumber) across the ends of these extensions.
After that's done, drill six 1 inch-diameter holes in each end of the box to assure adequate water flow through the container . . . and construct the crate's lid. This "doorway" is also made of 1 inch—thick scrap lumber. Simply nail the cover over about half of the open top (leave ventilation spaces between the boards if more than one piece of wood is required) . . . then construct a hinged door as illustrated in the photo accompanying this article. You can also install a slide-bolt lock in order to keep the box closed.
And there you have it, a handy "live well" that will keep your catch flopping and fresh while you fish or—if you live by the waterside—will allow you to have a steady supply of swimming dinners on hand . . . for those days when they're just not biting!