While tripping around the 2016 Fort Lauderdale Boat Show last year, I stumbled across a unique product that really piqued my interest. The product was a completely new style of bait pen from a company called Beach Marine Products.
They have taken the classic bait pen to a whole new level. Their new pens are made of aluminum stock and mesh. Since the company is based in Florida, they have a line of pens that are made to be raised from a davit on your dock (they even offer their own) and then held over your livewell. A quick pull of the chute drops the bait into the livewell in a blink. While this is a cool product, it’s not what caught my eye.
Beach Marine also makes a model called the Anglers Choice Bait Pen. This 100-gallon pen is unique in that it comes with a sliding false bottom that is used to “crowd” the bait to the top of the pen making it easy to transfer into a bucket or directly to your livewell. Anyone that has tried to catch the last couple of mackerel out of a big bait pen knows what a pain in the butt it is.
Aside from this unique feature, this pen is built like a tank. The pen is all welded out of medium gauge aluminum bar stock and mesh and then finished with a coat of heavy-duty powder coating. This makes the pen both light and strong.
They finish the pen with a clear, acrylic lid that includes a lock to keep your dock neighbors honest.
This heavy-duty construction and locking lid is perfect for our SoCal fishery because it should help to keep our “friends” the sea lions from breaking in and stealing your bait. Just this week we had a couple of sea lion thugs destroy a couple of bait receivers and steal all the bait in my marina.
As far as rigging the pen, the folks at Beach Marine leave that up to you. I chose to grab four lobster floats and some poly rope. I simply tied the rope off to the back support and threaded it through the mesh while positioning the floats equally around the rim of the pen. This turned out to be the perfect amount of floatation to keep the water line right at the door level. Thinking back, one more float might have been better to keep the door just above the water line so no bait swims out while loading.
Once rigged and ready to go I dumped the pen in my slip and secured it with a stainless cable and lock to make sure no one “borrowed” my new bait hotel.
This bait pen is near perfect in my opinion. I’ll be interested to see how the growth accumulates and how long the finish holds up. Since aluminum doesn’t rust, it shouldn’t be a big deal when we chip the coating, etc., but time will tell. I also really like the fact that they put a small zinc in the bottom of the pen to help prevent electrolysis. A quick call to my boat-bottom scrubber and he assured me they will keep it clean and keep an eye on the zinc.
I’ve got to hand it to the guys at Beach Marine. They really have thought this product through and it addresses everything a SoCal angler needs to keep a bunch of live mackerel ready and waiting. The Angler’s Choice Bait Pen can be bought directly at https://beachmarineproducts.com/ and it retails for $685 with about $100 shipping to California.