How to store leaches in the BWCA

In this quick blog post, I will discuss two popular ways to bring leeches into the BWCA.

The first way off the shelf would be to bring a small bait keeper like the BaitKing bait keeper. I like using these types of bait keepers if I am planning a BWCA trip that is centered around fishing. Typically on those types of trips, you will only need to portage once or twice both ways so having something easy to carry isn't the highest priority. 

The second (my favorite) way to store leeches in the BWCA is by using a 32oz wide-mouth Nalgene bottle with a spare lid. With the first lid, you will drill out a bunch of holes in the top. You will want to make sure these holes are tiny. If you use too big of a drill bit, the leeches might be able to escape. You will use the second lid as your portaging lid to store the leeches in a water bottle holder rather than carrying an annoying bait keeper.

With both styles of bait keepers, I recommend keeping them in the canoe while traveling. If you keep the bait keeper in the water while canoeing it will cause drag in the water slowing you down. You will also want to ensure that your leeches get fresh water periodically, especially in the summer. You can keep the bait keepers in the water, tied to the canoe by rope, while you are fishing. When you are at your campsite, you will want to keep the bait keeper in the water to keep the leeches alive. I made the mistake once of leaving them on shore too long on a hot day, and most of them were dead when I returned to them.